Tag Archives: AAA

Bioethics Forum – Yanomamo polemika još nije gotova!

Last week, the journal Human Nature published via open access an article I wrote following a year of historical research. That article, “Darkness’s Descent on the American Anthropological Association: A Cautionary Tale,” traces how, in 2000 to 2002, leaders in the American Anthropological Association (AAA) aided and abetted the false claims put forth by the self-styled anthropological journalist Patrick Tierney in his book Darkness in El Dorado and in a related New Yorker article.

Tierney’s claims of outrageously unethical behavior by the anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon and the late geneticist-physician James V. Neel Sr. towards the Yanomamö people of South America did much to besmirch Chagnon’s and Neel’s reputations. But what made the whole matter much worse was the way that the AAA proceeded, namely by using Tierney’s book as a roadmap for a major – though massively flawed – ethics investigation of Chagnon and Neel…

The free-for-all, conducted in violation of the AAA’s own ethics code (which, as Tom Gregor and Dan Gross noted in American Anthropologist in 2004, prohibited adjudication of claims of unethical behavior), ultimately included such amazing manifestations as postings at the AAA Web site of claims that Chagnon had paid his subjects to murder each other and had offered to pay murderers per killing. For his part, Neel was repeatedly likened to a Nazi experimenter, one who treated the Yanomamö essentially as lab rats for his supposedly “fascistic” “eugenic” theories.

Why did the AAA run amok?

Bioethics Forum blog – Time for the American Anthropological Association to Apologize.

Editorial of Human Nature:
Evolutionary anthropologists were very disturbed by what seemed to be a witch-hunting psychology that rippled through the AAA meetings, the AAA-sponsored investigation, and subsequent web postings. A number of us decided that we needed to legitimize ourselves and our students’ presence in the AAA by forming a new section, the Evolutionary Anthropology Society (EAS), rather than forming a separate society as had the membership of the American Association of Physical Anthropology and the Human Biology Association.

Unfortunately, we now know that this is not at all past history…



Filed under antropologija, Way off Broadway