Article_02

Article_02 - Article 2 Napoleon Chagnon's War of Discovery...

Info iconThis preview shows pages 1–2. Sign up to view the full content.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
? ,. , Article 2 Napoleon Chagnon's War of Discovery He Wrote a Bestseller in the '60s About One of the Last Undiscovered Peoples on Earth. YetHis Brash Style and Opinions Have Sabotaged His Research. Now He Is Forbidden to Visit the Jungle to Finish His Work. By Michael D'Antonio A cigarette dangles from Napo- leon Chagnon's lips as he reaches into the little refrigera- tor under his desk for a beer. He exhales a cloud, snaps open the can and pauses to say that the moment he is about to describe is a sacred one. He takes a long swig. It's the Venezuelan jungle in the 1960s. Chagnon is a young anthropolo- gist. The green forest parts and a small, powerfully built man emerges, naked and proud. "He has a glint in his eye, a light you don't see in other people," Chagnon continues. "He is defiant, arrogant, king of the world. He is completely free to do whatever he wants, and that includes bashing your head in or being your friend." It is the first time this jungle dweller has encountered anyone from the outside world. "I want to know him and his culture, before he disappears." Chagnon has spent much of his life studying those Yanomamo people, who number some 23,000 in the Amazon ba- sin, and there is still much more to know. Yet it appears his work is finished before it can be completed. At 61, this inveterate smoker and beer drinker, this irrepressible raconteur, is one of a dis- appearing breed-the swashbuckling anthropologist. And his research and manner haven't just earned him fame and respect. They've also made him re- viled and ostracized. Sporting a gray beard and safari vest, he seems ready for 20 the jungle, looking more like Papa Hem- ingway in the bush than a professor be- hind his desk at UC Santa Barbara. But the truth is that he hasn't been allowed to visit the Yanomamo in years. For most of three decades, Chagnon studied and occasionally lived among the Yanomamo, many of whom had never seen an outsider. As one of the least modem groups of people on earth, the Yanomamo have earned a special, almost poetic status around the world. To academics, they represent humanity in a more pure form, their behavior pos- sibly reflecting the nature of human- kind. So Chagnon's findings about them are as freighted with meaning as they are disturbing. Chagnon said he'd found a society in which homicide and warfare were com- mon and the most violent men wound up with the most wives and children. In his view, the Yanomamo-and by exten- sion, all humans-fought not because fighting was essential to survivalbut be- cause they were programmed for vio- lence in a lawless society. Survival of the fittest, at least in Yanomamo terms, means survival of the meanest. Few ethnographers can tell a story
Background image of page 1

Info iconThis preview has intentionally blurred sections. Sign up to view the full version.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Image of page 2
This is the end of the preview. Sign up to access the rest of the document.

{[ snackBarMessage ]}

Page1 / 4

Article_02 - Article 2 Napoleon Chagnon's War of Discovery...

This preview shows document pages 1 - 2. Sign up to view the full document.

View Full Document Right Arrow Icon
Ask a homework question - tutors are online