Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 22, 2013

Chagnon’s war

Filed under: Yanomami — louisproyect @ 5:57 pm
Counterpunch Weekend Edition February 22-24, 2013

The Tarzan of Anthropology

Chagnon’s War

by LOUIS PROYECT

The best way to understand Napoleon Chagnon’s contribution to anthropology is to tune in to one of those television wildlife documentaries showing an alpha-male baboon beating and biting the living bejeezus out of a rival, or being beaten into submission himself. As the narrator is wont to say, “Thus the winner of nature’s eternal battle has earned the right to enjoy the sexual privileges that guarantee survival of the fittest genes.”

In the 1960s Chagnon went down to the Amazon rainforest with the intention of proving that the Yanomami, already reduced by 75 percent through diseases spread by gold miners, ranchers and other invaders of their homeland, were the “fierce people” locked in perpetual warfare over the right to control the bodies of women. If this sounds farfetched, we can only offer up the words of Nicholas Wade, a N.Y Times science reporter, in a glowing review of Chagnon’s new memoir “Noble Savages: My Life Among Two Dangerous Tribes—the Yanomamö and the Anthropologists”:

After overtaxing one of his informants, the shaman Dedeheiwä, about the reason for a succession of village fissions into smaller hostile groups, Dr. Chagnon found himself rebuked with the outburst, “Don’t ask such stupid questions! Women! Women! Women! Women! Women!”

Chagnon puts it somewhat more delicately in his memoir: ““The whole purpose and design of the social structure of tribesmen seems to have revolved around effectively controlling sexual access by males to nubile, reproductive-age females.”

read full: http://www.counterpunch.org/2013/02/22/chagnons-war/

2 Comments »

  1. I comment on this post and other related posts on my blog, here: http://trotskyschildren.blogspot.com/2013/02/marxism-and-evopsych.html.

    Comment by Dan King — February 24, 2013 @ 3:26 am


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: