Skip to comments.How Napoleon Chagnon Became Our Most Controversial Anthropologist
Posted on 03/16/2013 7:52:12 PM PDT by virgil283
"At 74, Chagnon may be this countrys best-known living anthropologist; he is certainly its most maligned. His monograph, Yanomamö: The Fierce People, which has sold nearly a million copies since it was first published in 1968, established him as a serious scientist in the swashbuckling mode In turning the Yanomami into the worlds most famous unacculturated tribe, Chagnon also turned the romantic image of the noble savage on its head. Far from living in harmony with one another, the tribe engaged in frequent chest-pounding duels and deadly inter-village raids; violence or threat of violence dominated social life. The Yanomami, he declared, live in a state of chronic warfare.
The phrase may be the most contested in the history of anthropology. Colleagues accused him of exaggerating the violence, even of imagining it a projection of his aggressive personality. As Chagnons fame grew his book became a standard text in college courses so did the complaints. No detail was too small to be debated, including the transliteration of the tribes name. As one commentator wrote: Those who refer to the group as Yanomamö generally tend to be supporters of Chagnons work. Those who prefer Yanomami or Yanomama tend to take a more neutral or anti-Chagnon stance.
(Excerpt) Read more at nytimes.com ...
I own a copy of that, Yanomamö: The Fierce People.
how was it ?
Everybody knows primitives are violent and tangled up in “perpetual war for perpetual peace.” Anthropologists, archaeologists, and other social scientists pretend otherwise for ideological reasons, but also through a failure to think proportionally. Obviously tribes with, say, a dozen males of fighting age won’t ever put io statistics like modern nation states in WWII. But if a mere one of them dies that’s a ten percent casualty. If ten percent of our population were to die tomorrow That’d be thirty or so million people. Think about it.
Sorry, I didn’t mean to put “a dozen,” so the math is off.
I was an anthro major in the late 60’s at Chapman College in Southern California. This was one among many field research books I had to read. It was a great relief to read something that finally wasn’t fawning over primitive people or Indians like they were the “noble savages.” The young associate professor (well he was 28 then, but that seemed old at the time LOL) that taught this particular class was an acquaintance of Chagnon’s.
I remember my reactions to this book to this day. It had a great ring of truth to it. Put me in Chagnon’s camp versus the others.
(I am Choctaw)
I don’t really remember, it was fun and I remember enjoying it but I would have to pick it up and flip through it to remember much.
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Thanks virgil283. I think this or something like it has been posted before, but I'm too tired to check.
On the day that the Conquistadors demanded that they surrender and pay tribute to them thousands of Jivaro came out of the jungle and massacred all but a few of the Spanish present.
By the 1950s their houses were designed with fortifications to defend against gunfire, even among friends firearms were at the ready during every visit. A visitor would expect his host's wife to eat from the same bowl of food before he did, to reduce the chance of being poisoned.
and american indian tribes were not environmentally friendly or peaceful either.
At the least wiped out the mammoth and horses and burned down the great plains forests.
You would probably enjoy this book. I did.
The notion that primitive tribes are more peaceful doesn’t even make any sense. What do these ideologues think would happen to a “non-violent” tribe that came into contact with a “violent” tribe?
Well, here’s part of your answer. They’d likely be killed and eaten, as the Moriori were. They actually were a peaceful tribe, as they’d developed alternative ways of handling conflict necessary in their very resource-poor environment.
Then they met their cousins the Maori...
I learned a lot from that book about the Yanomama.
This one is even more eye opening:
The history book writers often brushed over the worst aspects of both pioneers and native tribes.
BTW, some of my Commanche ancestors were very inhospitable to invading white eyes!
Thanks for the heads up . I’ve ordered it....’V’