Author Topic: "Secrets of The Tribe" horrific abuse against the Yanomami by anthropologists  (Read 22240 times)

Offline nemesis

  • Posts: 527
I stayed up late to watch this excellent and very disturbing documentary last night.

What I saw was appalling the terrible sexual and medical abuses against innocent people validated some of my concerns about corrupt, abusive and self-serving academics generally and anthropologists in particular.

Basically a diverse group of anthropologists, some very highly respected, descended on a remote South American tribe, the  Yanomami, and proceeded to document a false version of their culture and lives (in one instance false in the sense of attributing sexual meanings to ordinary words), to sexually abuse their children and to kill them by purposely infecting them with measles.

This all happened in between the last 50 - 30 years and the actions of these vile people were supported and effectively hidden by highly influential academics such as the "father of modern anthropology" Claude Lévi-Strauss, and also Christian missionaries one of whom was interviewed on film and who defended a paedophile anthropologist by claiming that he had contributed a great deal to anthropology and "what he does in his private life is his own business".

The paedophile she was referring to was an anthropologist who, understanding that the tribe placed great value on certain items, such as machetes, made frequent trips to visit them armed with huge quantities of valued goods, and proceeded to create a system of child prostitution by bartering with 10 and 11 year old boys, and exchanging machetes and other goods for sex.

While the film is deeply disturbing it is definitely worth watching, not least because the directors decided on a policy of "giving them enough rope" so what you see includes footage of various immoral anthropologists all ripping into each other and trying to destroy the reputations of their peers whilst attempting to justify their own disgusting actions.

There are also heartbreaking interviews with Yanomami  adults who were abused as children and who survived measles outbreaks that killed all their friends and families.

I do not know if people in territories outside the UK can see this, but it is available on BBC I Player, probably for a month or so from now
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00xf6jl/Storyville_20102011_Secrets_of_the_Tribe/
 
US screenings here
http://sundance.bside.com/2010/films/secretsofthetribe_sundance2010
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 09:44:09 am by nemesis »

Offline Laurel

  • Posts: 153
This I want to see. AFAIK, Chagnon's text is still being used in intro level anthro courses (not that I know whether he's involved in any of this or not).

Offline nemesis

  • Posts: 527
This I want to see. AFAIK, Chagnon's text is still being used in intro level anthro courses (not that I know whether he's involved in any of this or not).

I would value your opinion.

From what I remember of the film Chagnon married a 13 year old Yanomami girl (obviously he was much older), divorced her pretty quickly and then got through at least 2 more young girls IMMIC he married the last one and brought her to the US. 

The film has extensive interviews with him (he does not come across well IMO) and other anthropologists who accuse him of being a paedophile because the girl he married was only 13 years old.  FWIW he claims that Yanomami girls usually marry at that age so his actions were completely fine. 

The abuser of young boys was a man called Jaques Lizot.

More about him from this page about the film: http://www.publicanthropology.org/AAAReferendum/ElDoradoTaskForce05March/BackgroundControversy5.htm

Quote
Jacques Lizot is a prominent French anthropologist who lived among the Yanomami for more than twenty years. He is highly critical of Chagnon's writings. Two points tend to be repeatedly asserted about Lizot's time in the field: that he was a strong public defender of Yanomami rights and that he had homosexual relations with a number of Yanomami boys. Related to these sexual relations, Tierney writes: "Lizot probably distributed more clothes and shotguns than any other individual among the Yanomami" (2000:141). And: "Whatever homosexual practices the Yanomami had prior to Lizot's arrival, shotgun-driven prostitution is nothing to brag about in their culture" (2000:137). Lizot has written two books on the Yanomami: The Yanomami in the Face of Ethnocide (1976) and Tales of the Yanomami: Daily Life in the Venezuelan Forest (1985).



The above image shows models made by the Yanomami depicting boys and Lizot.  It is fairly obvious which model depicts the "Anthropologist"

Offline Laurel

  • Posts: 153
Wow. How sad, and infuriating.

I know Chagnon's book is still being used because I tutored a student from it recently. I remember thinking "How can this still be useful? it must be way out of date by now" and "He sure does want to come off as better than all those other anthros and the missionaries. I wonder why?"

The Beeb player won't work for this USAsian. I look forward to seeing this when it hits DVD.

Offline nemesis

  • Posts: 527
I am not an anthropologist but from acquaintances who are I understand that Chagnon is at least a controversial figure and that as a result of various critiques of his work the word "fierce" is considered to be outdated, loaded and racist to the point of being pretty much taboo when used relation to tribal peoples.

The documentary included interviews with various anthropologists who claimed that Chagnon's research could not be validated and was thus worthless.  However there was so much footage of anthropologists slagging each other off and accusing each other of various heinous crimes that I was just left with a feeling of dismay for the Yanomami that their lives had been so badly affected by a bunch of selfish, puerile, perverted excuses for academics.

Not long ago I phoned the Royal Anthropological Institute here in London with regard to the plastic shaman / fraud Simon Buxton. I was so appalled by what I discovered about him and his farcical and rather creepy sex cult the "Path of Pollen" that I was sure that he could not really be a member of such a prestigious organisation.   I learned, to my dismay, that not only was he a member but "a respected member with many friends in the Institute", or so I was told by the highly indignant and defensive woman who responded to my enquiry.

This documentary throws much needed light on the issue of fraudulent academics and anthropologists and I suppose it helped me to understand how a fraud like Buxton could become a "respected" member of the Royal Anthropological Institute.  Or I should more accurately say that it helped me to question whether or not the Royal Anthropological Institute is quite as prestigious as its name and website imply.

 
« Last Edit: January 11, 2011, 03:41:26 pm by nemesis »

Offline Laurel

  • Posts: 153
I'm not an anthropologist either, but yeah, "Fierce People"? Grr.  ::)  >:(

From what I remember, Chagnon would (or should!) admit his results are not/never were replicable...I can actually see him using that as a "badge of honor," as in "Castaneda's weren't replicable either!"

I know one person IRL who got a master's in anthro. He's an honest man AFAIK, which may be why he works outside of his field for small dollars at present.


Offline nemesis

  • Posts: 527
The FB page for the film indicates that there is an HOB screening (on TV?) on March 2nd

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Secrets-of-the-Tribe/119126678099630

http://www.hbo.com/#/documentaries/secrets-of-the-tribe/synopsis.html

Also screenings at the Cleveland Film Festival on March 30th and 31st
http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2011/secrets-of-the-tribe




Offline Laurel

  • Posts: 153
Thanks!

Offline matt e

  • Posts: 59
    • my site
http://www.hbo.com/#/documentaries/secrets-of-the-tribe

the hbo page about it. i am sure after the various screenings it will be available to purchase from their site.

on this page you can also see a trailer for it.
feel free to share any post I make as long as you give me credit. I want everyone to know who to send the hate mail to.

Offline nemesis

  • Posts: 527
Just a reminder that the Cleveland Film Festival screenings are today and tomorrow


The members of this poorly understood tribe are warlike, territorial, and highly sexualized. We refer, of course, not to the Yanomami Amerindians of the Amazon basin, subjects of much heated anthropological debate, but to the clan of anthropologists themselves. SECRETS OF THE TRIBE introduces us to a motley cast of characters in the drama that has been swirling for decades around outspoken American anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, who first lived among the Yanomami in the 60s. Chagnon detailed their drug use, warfare, and woman-stealing raids on other villages, arguing that fierce Yanomami men had more female partners and offspring, thus dominating their communities. Many resent his portrayal of Yanomami violence, suggesting it gives governments an excuse for not protecting them against encroaching gold miners. With accusations flying at Chagnon thick as arrows, one reporter even accuses him of purposefully exposing the Yanomami to measles. The film presents titillating stories of scientists pursuing sexual relations with tribal boys and bringing Amazonian girls back to New Jersey. Have these self-serving academics really abused this ancient people, pushing it to the brink of extinction? Disregard your preconceptions and judge for yourself. (In Yanomaman, Spanish, Italian, and English with subtitles) –B.B.


http://www.clevelandfilm.org/festival/films/2011/secrets-of-the-tribe