ELL: Killing in the Amazon
akha at LOXINFO.CO.TH
Sat Sep 30 02:05:05 UTC 2000
Thomas Headland was the SIL man who went to extensive effort to claim
that John Nance and his work with the Tasaday tribe was all bunk, just a
scam on the part of the Marcos people.
So one anthro standing up for another?
Just how much was and is SIL involved in all of this?
News Article: Book Says U.S. Scientists Killed Amazon Indians
<FONT SIZE=-1>By Leslie Gevirtz</FONT>
BOSTON (Reuters) - U.S. scientists sparked a measles
epidemic that killed "perhaps thousands" of Amazon Indians,
according to a not-yet published book that has already sparked
a firestorm of controversy on the Internet.
Patrick Tierney's "Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists
and Journalists Devastated the Amazon," presents evidence that
scientists during a 1968 expedition inoculated Yanomami Indians
against measles and possibly contributed to an epidemic of the
disease that killed "hundreds, perhaps thousands" of the
isolated tribe in a remote region of Venezuela.
The expedition was funded by the former Atomic Energy
Commission and lead by the late geneticist James Neel of the
University of Michigan and then-University of California at
Santa Barbara anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon.
At the time the expedition arrived in the Amazon Basin to
study the relatively isolated Yanomami, the tribe's population
numbered around 20,000. It is now estimated closer to 10,000.
Tierney suggests that Neel's inoculating the Yanomami
actually gave some of them measles and they infected others.
But medical scientists said such a thing has never been shown
The Edmonston B measles vaccine did have side-effects and
eventually was withdrawn from the market in the early 1970s,
but was a standard treatment in 1968.
The epidemic charge is the most explosive in the book,
which also accuses the now-retired Chagnon of debauched
SPARKS ACADEMIC FIRESTORM
The sedate world of anthropology has been turned upside
down by reports of the book's scandalous accusations, which
have sparked a rash of e-mails, accusations and papers that are
whipping around the World Wide Web.
One of Chagnon's critics and one of the few people to have
actually read the book, Professor Thomas Headland of the Summer
Institute of Sociology in Dallas, has his doubts about
"There is no love lost between Chagnon and me. He has
criticized me in print, and I him," Headland said in an e-mail
to Reuters. "But I don't believe, after reading Tierney's book,
that Chagnon is guilty of genocide, or that he purposely helped
introduce and spread measles into the Yanomami population.... I
don't believe that Chagnon 'demanded that villagers bring him
girls for sex..."'
Chagnon declined comment, but posted a statement on the Web
"the extremely offensive document focusing on allegations made
in the book ... by cultural anthropologists Terence Turner and
Leslie Sponsel is full of accusations that have no factual
Turner, a Cornell University professor, and University of
Hawaii professor Sponsel's electronic memo repeated Tierney's
allegations, warned of a scandal and was sent around the Web.
"It was a confidential memo sent to three people -- the
president of the American Anthropological Association, the
president-elect and the chairman of the association's human
rights committee," Turner told Reuters, adding "it was very
unprofessional for someone to pirate that memo and send it to a
million people around the world."
SCHOLARS PICK SIDES
Academics quickly lined up on both sides.
University of Pennsylvania historian Susan Lindee, who
wrote a book about Neel and his efforts to study radiation's
effect on the Japanese after the Second World War, actually
looked at the geneticist's field notes from the 1968
"He actually brought with him 2,000 doses of vaccine. He
brought gammaglobulin and penicillin," she said, adding Neel
had Venezuelan government permission and had consulted with the
U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to learn how to
give the drugs before the January 1968 trip.
"Tierney is right in the sense that the Yanomami have been
treated in a grotesque manner by many different groups,
scientists, journalists, miners, government and military
officials ... who have grievously damaged their health, their
environment and their way of life," Lindee said.
The book's publication date has been moved from Oct. 1 to
Nov. 16, which coincides with the American Anthropological
Association's annual meeting in San Francisco. The AAA has
already posted on its Web site,
(www.aaanet.org/press/eldorado.htm), a statement about the book
which is to be excerpted in next week's New Yorker magazine.
And <A HREF=http://Amazon.com>Amazon.com</A> says the 499-page W.W.
Norton book, with
1,599 footnotes, is already ranked 279 in sales.
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