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Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Secrets of the tribe



Secrets of the tribe is a documentary about the behaviour of anthropologists who studied the Yanomami people in the Amazon; Napoleon Chagnon (pictured above) and Jacques Lizot in particular. As well as looking at how data was rigged, how corners were cut, how children were abused  and how negligent practices caused the deaths of hundreds of tribespeople, the documentary is also a small examination of warfare and ritual amidst anthropologists themselves - the anthropology of anthropologists. Roald Dahl would be gratified to know that there seems to be some kind of correlation between facial hair and personality traits. Essential and depressing viewing.

Watch it on iplayer here if you can.

"The field of anthropology goes under the magnifying glass in a fiery investigation of the seminal research on Yanomami Indians, also known as the 'Fierce People'. In the 1960s and 70s, a steady stream of anthropologists filed into the Amazon Basin to observe this 'virgin' society untouched by modern life. Thirty years later, the events surrounding this infiltration have become a scandalous tale of academic ethics and infighting."

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