> There is new evidence that comes out of my Dogon studies which
> directly affirms Griaule and Dieterlen's Dogon cosmology as a
> wholly valid cosmological form. I've recently presented this
> evidence to Belgian anthropologist Walter Van Beek and am
> preparing an article to discuss its implications in an upcoming
> anthropological journal. One of the likely conclusions that
> can be drawn from the evidence is that Griaule accurately
> reported a secret Dogon cosmological tradition in good faith,
> and that the Dogon priests have simply lied to later
> researchers in order to protect that secret.
It would be interesting to learn van Beek’s opinion of this latest research. Amongst the criticisms levelled at Griaule, for instance, was that of having concentrated so much of his time on one informant only, rather than on several. And, when van Beek himself visited the Dogon in the 1980s, and made enquiries of other informants, he was unable to find any corroboration of the material described by Griaule and Dieterlen. He eventually concluded that Griaule had – albeit unwittingly – recorded what was in effect contaminated information from the Dogon elders (it appears that some of the material, for instance, could have been influenced by pre-WWII Christian missionaries).
Given this situation, it is unlikely that either Griaule or the Dogon set out to intentionally mislead or deceive anyone. Some of the explanation for the confusion, for instance, might simply have its roots in Western expectations that mythologies and perceptions of the cosmos should be structured and coherent. However, the mythic thought of a non-Western people such as the Dogon might display none of these characteristics; it might instead be segmented, fragmentary, and perhaps contradictory. That does not mean that it is any less valid than Western mythologies, of course; far from it. But it does mean that non-Dogon researchers have to be extremely careful, first, to ensure that the material has not been contaminated in any way, and, second, to avoid imposing their own world-views and systems of thought onto it.