Darkness in El Dorado - Archived Document
Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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Internet Source: American Anthropological Association
Source URL: http://www.ameranthassn.org/press/eldorado.htm


American Anthropological Association
Statement on Allegations made
in the book Darkness in El Dorado

The American Anthropological Association is aware of the publication of the book Darkness in El Dorado by Patrick Tierney. The book makes serious allegations against particular anthropologists, other scientists, and journalists who have studied or worked with the Yanomami people of Venezuela. The AAA is extremely concerned about these allegations. If proven true they would constitute a serious violation of Yanomami human rights and our Code of Ethics.

Establishing ethical guidelines for anthropologists to use in their research and work, especially responsibility to the subjects who they study, has been a chief concern of the anthropological community since the 1960s. In response to these concerns, the AAA developed a Code of Ethics which sets forth guidelines for anthropologists to use in the conduct of their research and work. A key element of the Code addresses the responsibility of anthropological researchers to the people who they study. The Code states:

  • "Anthropological researchers must do everything in their power to ensure that their research does not harm the safety, dignity, or privacy of the people with whom they work."
  • "Anthropological researchers have primary ethical obligations to the people they study and the people with whom they work."

The AAA has also worked to protect indigenous peoples by raising public awareness of the problems they face. The AAA has been acutely aware of the harm suffered by the Yanomami at the hands of gold miners and timber interests, who have brought disease and pollution. Since the 1970s, AAA has issued public statements on the imperiled situation of the Yanomami and indigenous peoples of Latin America. In 1979 and 1991, the AAA called for the creation of a Yanomami Reserve in Northern Brazil. The Brazilian Government created the Yanomami Reserve in 1992.

This book presents the views, conclusions and opinions of its author. It is extremely important, however, that other individuals featured in the book be afforded the opportunity to express their own views on its contents. Until there is a full and impartial review and discussion of the issues raised in the book, it would be unfair to express a judgement about the specific allegations against individuals that are contained in it. The Association is anticipating conducting an open forum during our Annual Meeting to provide an opportunity for our members to review and discuss the issues and allegations raised in the book.