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.umich.edu/~idpah/SEP/sep_mot.html


American Anthropological Association Executive Board motion on inquiry regarding Darkness in El Dorado

At the February 3 & 4 2001 Meeting of the American Anthropological Association Executive Board the following motion was passed.

1) The AAA Executive Board will establish a task force of five members of the American Anthropological Association, four to be appointed by the AAA President, to conduct an inquiry on the allegations contained in Darkness in El Dorado by Patrick Tierney. The El Dorado Task Force will be chaired by AAA past President Jane Hill and will make its report to the Executive Board at its November 2001 meeting. The Task Force inquiry is intended to contribute to the Committee on Ethics' efforts to extend guidelines and create materials concerning field research conducted wherever anthropologists work.

2) Using the report of the Task Force chaired by Jim Peacock as background, the El Dorado Task Force will consider the allegations concerning (1) fieldwork practices of anthropologists, (2) representations and portrayals of the Yanomami that may have had a negative impact, (3) efforts to create organizations to represent the interests of Yanomami or efforts to contribute to Yanomami welfare that may have actually undermined their well-being, (4) activities that may have resulted in personal gain to scientists, anthropologists and journalists while contributing harm to the Yanomami, and (5) activities by anthropologists, scientists and journalists that may have contributed to malnutrition, disease and disorganization.

3) The El Dorado Task Force may wish to consider allegations relating to medical research and medical emergencies among the Yanomami (e.g. the measles epidemic of 1968, research using radioactive iodine in the 1960's) The Task Force should note earlier findings in their report where they feel that there is already sufficient evidence to refute such allegations, unless new information or questions emerge.

4) The El Dorado Task Force should be mindful of the evolution of various codes of ethics and ethical guidelines existing during the time a particular set of actions occurred. It is expected that the Task Force will seek information from AAA members, the author, and key anthropologists mentioned in the book. The Task Force should also contact anthropologists and others in Brazil and Venezuela in order to share information and become apprised of parallel investigations. The Task Force may also utilize the expertise of outside experts (medical researchers, epidemiologists) where necessary.