Four days ago I got this comment on my blog from one Claire DeVore beneath an article on Napoleon Chagnon:
I am curious about your photo copyright. My agency represents Doctor Chagnon I have no record of your requesting use of the final image. Please contact me at email@example.com
I had used a photo of Chagnon that turned up in a Google image search, just as would most bloggers. Furthermore, the photo was not retrieved from www.anthophoto.com but from the Boise State College website, without any attribution to Ms. DeVore’s company there. In any case, I did not care that much about using that particular photo so I replaced it with another and then followed up with a message to her.
I already replaced it, assuming that the photo in question was used in the article you commented on. Btw, I got it from the Boise State website, not yours. There was no copyright notice there, as far as I know. I should add that I am very respectful of intellectual property. After all, what would our wonderful world of capitalism be without it?
Apparently the crack got under skin since she followed up with this:
Capitalism? Hardly. My website doesn’t make a profit. I keep it running to protect the rights of the indigenous peoples we worked with. I lived with the !Kung San when I was seven years old. “Profits” are sent back to the Kalahari People’s Fund for many of those images.
As to Nap’s photo I try to keep a tight hold on those for obvious reasons, after the Tierney attack.
Thank-you for removing it.
This bit about living with the !Kung San and the reference to “Nap” intrigued me. Who were these people? A trip to the website turned up three names in what is apparently a family-run operation:
Nancy DeVore – Image Procurement, Billing, Professional Services
(617) 868-4784, firstname.lastname@example.org
Dr. Irven DeVore – Professional Services
(617) 868-4784, email@example.com
Claire DeVore – Image Procurement, Pricing, Billing, Research
(617) 484-6490, firstname.lastname@example.org
From what I can gather, Nancy is the wife of Dr. Irven DeVore, a Harvard professor emeritus, and Claire is their daughter. Acting on a hunch, I googled “Irven DeVore” and “Napoleon Chagnon” and turned this up:
Chagnon, who retired this year as a professor of anthropology at the University of California in Santa Barbara, still retains his eminence in the field. Irven DeVore, a professor of biological anthropology at Harvard, says, “Chag was both first and thorough. First in the sense that very, very few anthropological studies have been carried out by an anthropologist who was first on the scene. Thorough in the sense that Chag has visited at least seventy-five Yanomami villages on both sides of the Venezuela and Brazil borders. I cannot think of a comparably thorough survey among any cultural group by any anthropologist. Chag gathered very detailed and documented data on the villages–so much so that another investigator could study the same population and come to a different conclusion. Chagnon’s study was ‘scientific’ in the best sense of the word.”
This is from Patrick Tierney’s November 6, 2000 New Yorker article on Napolen Chagnon that would get a full-blown treatment in “Darkness in El Dorado”. This book triggered a huge debate that divided anthropology between Chagnon supporters and those who agreed with Tierney, even with qualifications.
I wrote a series of articles on Chagnon, including the one that had the photo Ms. DeVore wanted removed. I think her problem (and more likely that of Chagnon and Professor DeVore) was more with the text than the picture, as the first few paragraphs would indicate:
When I first got word of the Jared Diamond/New Yorker magazine scandal, I could not help but think of Napoleon Chagnon and the Yanomami. Just around the time that the Marxism list was launched, a big fight broke out among anthropologists over Chagnon’s fieldwork with the Amazon rainforest Indians provoked by the publication of Patrick Tierney’s “Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon”. Sides were drawn in the profession between those pro and con Chagnon, who at least unlike Jared Diamond had professional qualifications in the field. In doing some preliminary research on the Chagnon-Tierney dispute, I have learned that some experts in the field without any apparent axe to grind have faulted his research.
I plan to revisit the controversy in light of what I have learned about evolutionary psychology, particularly through my reading of Jared Diamond’s “The Third Chimpanzee” but want to start off by posting some excerpts from the fifth edition of Chagnon’s “Yanomamo”, a book that was titled “Yanomamo: the fierce people” in its initial publication in 1977. Given all the controversy his research has generated, it is understandable why he would have dropped the term “fierce people”, especially since the global perception that they are facing extinction. It would be like writing a book in 1940 titled “The Aggressive Jew”.
Now that my curiosity was piqued, I wanted to see what this guy Irven DeVore was about. I couldn’t imagine that he was as bad as Chagnon (who could be?) but wanted to see where he stood in the oft-compromised world of anthropology.
On May 11, 1993 the Washington Post had a survey article on new glossy magazines devoted to making scientific issues understandable to the unwashed masses. One of them was Omni that was launched by Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione. In an issue devoted to “Sex and Violence among the Primates”, there was an expert the magazine interviewed who assured its readers that sex and violence against women is in our genes. Just look at the mating habits in monkeys, “particularly certain species wherein the female gives sex exclusively to one male in exchange for protection from other males” in a manner “eerily similar to certain human relationships.”
That expert was Irven DeVore. No wonder why he would take the side of a total dick like Napoleon Chagnon.
DeVore’s views on male domination were spelled out in a series of articles on the baboon, whose aggressive behavior among males and male domination over females supposedly is the key to human society.
This typically biological determinist approach was dismantled in an Autumn 1991 issue of “Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society”, published by the U. of Chicago. Titled “Baboons with Briefcases: Feminism, Functionalism, and Sociobiology in the Evolution of Primate Gender” and written by Susan Sperling, it takes on the male domination is in our primate genes theories almost always written by males.
Early sociobiological views of the evolution of human gendered behaviors incorporated primatological data and viewed males and females as having differential reproductive strategies. Because of the presumably greater “investment” of female primates in infant rearing, female behaviors were viewed as selected because they advanced a female’s chances of gaining male protection during vulnerable periods for herself and her offspring (offspring are seen as fleshy packets of shared genes). Females frequently were pictured as conservative, coy, and passive. By contrast, it behooved males to inseminate as many females as possible, thus forwarding their attempted genetic monopoly of the future. [E.O.] Wilson wrote: “It pays males to be aggressive, hasty, fickle and undiscriminating. In theory it is more profitable for females to be coy, to hold back until they can identify the male with the best genes. Human beings obey this biological principle faithfully.” DeVore and other sociobiologists have maintained that the sexual and romantic interest of middle-aged men in younger women and their presumed lack of interest in their female age cohort stem from selective pressures on male primates to inseminate as many fertile females as possible [emphasis added].
No wonder Bob Guccione would want to interview Irven DeVore on women. One can just as easily imagine him as a frequent guest at the Playboy mansion especially in light of “the sexual and romantic interest of middle-aged men in younger women and their presumed lack of interest in their female age cohort stem from selective pressures on male primates to inseminate as many fertile females as possible.”
Dr. DeVore puts himself forward as an expert on everything primate and human. When feminist students at Harvard demanded a Women’s Studies program, he opposed them—stating that the class he taught on social relationships should be sufficient. I doubt that they were assuaged in light of his observations in an April 1986 issue of Science magazine:
Soap operas have a huge following among college students, and the female-female competition is blatant. The women on these shows use every single feminine wile. On the internationally popular soap Dynasty, for example, a divorcee sees her ex-husband’s new wife riding a horse nearby. She knows the woman to be newly pregnant, so she shoots off a gun, which spooks the horse, which throws the young wife, and makes her miscarry. The divorcee’s own children are living with their father and this woman; the divorcee doesn’t want this new young thing to bring rival heirs into the world to compete with her children.
Whole industries turning out everything from lipstick to perfume to designer jeans are based on the existence of female competition. The business of courting and mating is after all, a negotiation process, in which each member of the pair is negotiating with those of the opposite sex to get the best deal possible, and to beat out the competition from one’s own sex…. I get women in my class saying I’m stereotyping women, and I say sure, I’m stereotyping the ones who make lipstick a multibillion dollar industry. It’s quite a few women. Basically, I appeal to students to look inside themselves: what are life’s little dilemmas? When your roommate brings home a guy to whom you’re extremely attracted, does it set up any sort of conflict in your mind?
To my readers with kids in high school: don’t waste your money sending them to Harvard. They’d be better off at a good state college, especially one that does not have imbecile sociobiology professors eager to shove sexist theories down their throats.