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Napoleon Chagnon

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Samantha Smith

on 15 April 2014

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Transcript of Napoleon Chagnon

Theories & Concepts
Contributions to Social Science
Early Years
Limitations, Questions and Issues
1960s refereed to as "peak" of anthropology
"one of the rare intellectual vocations that do not demand a sacrifice of one’s manhood. Courage, love of adventure and physical hardiness — as well as brains — are used by it." - Susan Satong
Number of members in AAA doubled in the 1960s
Napoleon Chagnon
Born 1938 (currently 76) in Port Austin, Michigan
Came from poor family of 12 children
Univeristy Of Michigan
1961: Bachelor's degree
1963: Master's
1966: PhD
Recieved PhD under Leslie White
Who is he?
Famous American anthropologist
Well-known for his ethnography of the Yanomami tribe
New York Times called him the "most controversial anthropologist"
Current member of N.A.S
If you could go back and study the Yanomami people again, what would you be interested in learning?
Questions for Napoleon Chagnon
Common views of Anthropology during Chagnon's time
Claude Lévi-Strauss: Studied Brazillian tribes, founding father of anthropology
Most well-known for his work with the Yanomami tribe
Studied them on and off from 1964 - 1995
Complied genealogies, has info on roughly 4,000 tribe members
Wrote in his 1968 book 'Yanomamo: The Fierce People' that they were in 'chronic warfare'
Documented them as being very violent people
Up to 30% of adult men die violently
Chagnon was interested in using biology to explain the violence of the Yanomami: was violence an evolutionary trait?
Worked with others to examine significance of animal protein
Research Methods
Participant Observation
spent many years living with the Yanomami people
tried to learn names of members of the tribe, which proved to be quite challenging
Chagnon gave rewards to those who revealed info to him
Rewards included fish, hooks, knives, machetes and matches
Tierney's book accuses Chagnon of being racist, triggering/fabricating the violence, and administering the measles vaccine in spite of knowing the risks
recorded in his book that when he first saw them he thought they were “I looked up and gasped when I saw a dozen burly, naked, filthy, hideous men staring at us down the shafts of their drawn arrows!
by rewarding them with weapons, he encouraged violence
With new discoveries about the relationship between biology and social behaviour, does this affect your claims of how violence among the Yanomami is an evolutionary trait?
Informed consent
Ethics in anthropology
Evolutionary theory
Brought more attention to Anthropology, even if it wasn't the best attention
Full transcript