A curious term from anthropology describing the tendency for someone to come up with a counter-example from some usually obscure and remote tribe when anyone makes a general claim about human culture.

Bongo-bongoism: the venerable but ultimately sterile anthropological practice of countering every generalization with an exception located somewhere at some time.

Apparently, it was first used by anthropologist Mary Douglas in her book Natural Symbols.

Link to the culture evolves! blog (where I found the definition).


  1. Posted April 17, 2007 at 7:31 pm | Permalink

    This reminds me of the quote that every psychologist’s career must include a statement beginning with the phrase “Humans are the only species that…”
    There are so many counterexamples to any general rule, in any branch of science, that it seems foolish to talk in generalizations. Generally speaking.

  2. Paulus S
    Posted September 7, 2012 at 3:39 pm | Permalink

    Thank you for explaining. I am reading a book, Political Anthropology and finding the terminology (Bongo-Bongoism) in it. I hope, I understand what it means.

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