Darkness in El Dorado - Archived Document
Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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Internet Source: Anthropology News, Volume 43, Number 3, March 2002
Source URL: http://www.aaanet.org/press/an/index.htm


Dialogue Correspondence: In Response to Irons Letter

In response to William Irons (Jan AN), there are numerous outrages in the Pandora’s Box opened by Tierney. What is dubious is the partial information, misinformation and disinformation that some critics of Tierney disseminate as supposedly independently checked hard evidence. Anyone who objectively compares the Santa Barbara website with two others— www.anth.uconn.edu/gradstudents/ dhume and www.publicanthropology. org—is likely to draw that conclusion. Both include material on many sides and aspects of the controversy, unlike the UCSB website. Irons failed to mention these other sites and that after new information, Michigan posted a significant new statement. He cited an old statement instead. He exemplified a partisan strategy of presenting only one side and selective aspects of the controversy. Like fellow partisans Irons has yet to face—let alone refute—the multitude of diverse allegations by Tierney concerning serious violations of professional ethics.

While there are problems with Tierney’s book, they do not automatically invalidate it entirely, and are fewer than Irons and other partisans portray. Moreover, many of Tierney’s allegations have been made by numerous and diverse critics in various contexts for more than 30 years, including by the overwhelming majority of those who have worked with Yanomami: Bruce Albert, Timothy Asch, Jose Bortoli, Jesus Cardoso, Marcus Colchester, Irenaus Eibl-Eibesfeldt, Gale Goodwin Gomez, Kenneth Good, Jacques Lizot, Leda Martins, Ernst Migliazza, John Peters, Alcida Ramos, William Smole and Fiona Watson. Among other critics are Nelly Arvelo-Jimenez, Gerald Berreman, Shelton Davis, Brian Ferguson, Clifford Geertz, Marvin Harris, Laura Nader, David Maybury-Lewis, Linda Rabben, Marshall Sahlins and Nancy Scheper-Hughes.

This affair has ramifications for all anthropologists and far beyond. History will record and judge how well individuals like Irons and groups like the AAA Task Force on El Dorado respond to the controversy. Eventually the Yanomami and other Amazonians and Native Americans also will assess the controversy and report.

Leslie E Sponsel
U of Hawai’i-Manoa