Darkness in El Dorado - Archived Document
Anthropological Niche of Douglas W. Hume
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November 15, 2000

The American Anthropological Association Executive Board Has Resolved to Take the Following Actions on Allegations Made in Darkness in El Dorado

I. Establish a Special Ad Hoc Task Force of seven members, six of which will be appointed by the AAA President from among the members of the Committee on Ethics and the Committee for Human Rights, chaired by AAA Past President James Peacocok, and charged to:

A. Examine assertions and allegations contained in Darkness in El Dorado as well as others related to the controversy over this document;

B. Review AAA's statements on ethics and human rights;

C. Consult such other sources (documents and individuals), and coordinate with organizations potentially pursuing investigations including those in Brazil and Venezuela;

D. Come to conclusion as to which specific issues, if any (1) are deserving of an in-depth investigation by AAA, and (2) can realistically be investigated by the AAA;

E. Suggest what kinds of evidence might be obtained or individuals interviewed on each issue;

F. Propose any budget (including expenditure categories and dollar amounts) that might need to be committed to conduct such investigation;

G. Recommend by whom such an investigation should be conducted; and

H. Report its findings, conclusions and recommendations to the Executive Board no later than its February 2001 meeting.

II. Charge the AAA Committee on Ethics to consider developing additional guidelines to the Code of Ethics and other materials, and report to the Executive Board. Consideration should be given to common dilemmas faced by anthropologists conducting research in field situations, including: (1) their responsibility to provide assistance when study subjects experience health emergencies; (2) the level and kind of renumeration to subject populations and individuals that is both appropriate and fair; (3) the impact of material assistance provided to study populations; (4) the potentially negative impact of factual data about a study population on such population; and (5) what constitutes valid and appropriate informed consent in anthropological studies.

III. Establish an Ad Hoc Task Force of three persons (one of which will be designated as Chair) to be appointed by the AAA President, charged to:

A. Summarize the current knowledge of the precarious state of native populations, as in South America;

B. Conduct a review of existing national and international regulations, standards, and guidelines intended to protect such native populations and to guide contact by researchers and others with such populations;

C. Make recommendations on how such regulations, standards and guidelines can be further strengthened and how the AAA can contribute to such efforts;

D. Make recommendations on how the AAA can educate its members about the conditions of native South American populations; and

E. Report its findings, conclusions and recommendations to the AAA Executive Board.