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ANTHROPOLOGY: "Imminent Scandal." Brazil-Venezuelan Border Area
Several WAISers have sent me a very long document about an "imminent anthropological scandal." It is a letter to Louise Lamphere of the University of New Mexico and Don Brenneis of the University of California at Santa Cruz, president and president-elect respectively of the American Anthropological Association. The titles of the authors allow one to guess what is coming. Terry Turner is head of the special commission to investigate the situation of the Brazilian Yanomami, 1991 (one wonders why the decade-long delay). The other author is Leslie Sponsel, chair of the AAA Committee for Human Rights, 1992-1996.
The "scandal" is the publication of Patrick Tierney, Darkness in El Dorade (October, 2000) [!]. It denounces "sheer criminality and corruption, unparalleled in the history of Anthropology". It will be excerpted in The New Yorker. Tierney is an investigative journalist who has investigated the secret research by US geneticists among the Yanomami of Venezuela, allegedly part of a secret program of the Atomic Energy Commission to study the effects of radiation on human subjects. Tierney presents "convincing" evidence that the experimenters probably started the epidemic of measles that killed hundreds, perhaps thousands of Yanomami.
It sounds like the argument about who started Aids in Africa. All around the world anthropologists are accusing westerners of harming native populations. Tort lawyers must be rubbing their hands.
Ronald Hilton - 9/27/00