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>Read below and gasp! AS I mentioned yesterday, all hell is going to break
>loose when the American Anthropological Association meets in SF this
>november around the issue below. Talk about Nazi medicine....
>JIm
>-----------------------
>From: Donna J. Haraway <[log in to unmask] Sent: Thursday, September
>14, 2000 4:13 PM Subject: Fwd: Imminent anthropological scandal
>
>Colleagues,
>
>I am forwarding this message in case you have not seen it.
>
>This is something we should all know about.  Very, very ugly.  It makes
me pay
>attention again to the hard and on-going problem of how to be
responsible in
>the many worlds of genetics--in biology, anthropology, medicine, journalism,
>science studies, art, women's studies, popular culture, dog worlds--in short,
>in all those places in which we all work.
>
>Donna
>
>========== To: Louise Lamphere, President, American Anthropological
>Association
>([log in to unmask])
>
>Don Brenneis, President -elect, American Anthropological Association
>([log in to unmask])
>
>From: Terry Turner, Professor of Anthropology, Cornell University. Head
of the
>Special Commission of the American Anthropological Association to Investigate
>the Situation of the Brazilian Yanomami, 1990-91 ([log in to unmask]
>
>Leslie Sponsel, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Hawaii, Manoa.
>Chair of the AAA Committee for Human Rights 1992-1996 ([log in to unmask])
>
>In re: Scandal about to be caused by publication  of  book by Patrick Tierney
>(Darkness in El Dorado. New York. Norton.  Publication date: October 1, 2000).
>
>Madam President, Mr. President-elect:
>
>We write to inform you of an impending scandal that will affect the American
>Anthropological profession as a whole in the eyes of the public, and arouse
>intense indignation and calls for action among members of the
Association. In
>its scale, ramifications, and sheer criminality and corruption it is
>unparalleled in the history of Anthropology. The AAA will be called
upon by
>the
>general media and its own membership to take collective stands on the
>issues it
>raises, as well as appropriate redressive actions. All of this will obviously
>involve you as Presidents of the Association-so the sooner you know
about the
>story that is about to break, the better prepared you can be to deal
with it.
>Both of us have seen galley copies of a book by Patrick Tierney, an
>investigative journalist, about the actions of anthropologists and associated
>scientific researchers (notably geneticists and medical experimenters) among
>the  Yanomami of Venezuela over the past thirty-five years.  Because of the
>sensational nature of its revelations, the notoriety of the people it exposes,
>and the prestige of the organs of the academic establishment it implicates,
>the
>book  is bound to be widely read both outside and inside the
profession. As
>both an indication and a vector of its public impact, we have learned
that The
>New Yorker magazine is planning to publish an extensive excerpt, timed to
>coincide with the publication of the book (on or about October 1st).
>
>The focus of the scandal is the long-term project for study of the
Yanomami of
>Venezuela organized by James Neel, the human geneticist, in which Napoleon
>Chagnon, Timothy Asch, and numerous other anthropologists took part. The
>French
>anthropologist Jacques Lizot, who also works with the Yanomami but is
not part
>of Neel-Chagnon project, also figures in a different scandalous capacity.
>
>One of Tierney's more startling revelations is that the whole Yanomami project
>was an outgrowth and continuation of the Atomic Energy Comissions secret
>program of experiments  on human subjects James Neel, the originator and
>director of the project, was part of the medical and genetic research team
>attached to the Atomic Energy Commission since the days of the Manhattan
>Project. He was a member of the small group of researchers responsible for
>studying the effects of radiation on human subjects. He personally
headed the
>team that investigated the effects of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombs on
>survivors,. He was put in charge of the study of the effects of atomic
>bombs at
>Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and later was involved in the studies of the
>effects of
>the radioactivity from the experimental A and H bomb blasts in the Marshall
>Islands on the natives (our colleague May Jo Marshall has a lot to say about
>these studies in the Marshalls and Neel's role in them). The same group also
>secretly carried out experiments on human subjects in the USA. These included
>injecting people with radioactive plutonium without their knowledge or
>permission,in some cases leading to their death or disfigurement ( Neel
>himself
>appears not to have given any of these experimental injections). Another
>member
>of the same AEC group of human geneticists and medical experimenters, a
>Venezuelan, Marcel Roche, was a close colleague of Neel's and spent
some time
>at his AEC-funded center for Human Genetics at Ann Arbor. He returned to
>Venezuela after the war and did a study of the Yanomami that  involved
>administering doses of a radioactive isotope of iodine and analyzing
>samples of
>blood for genetic data. Roche and his project were apparently the connection
>that led Neel to choose the Yanomami for his big study of the genetics of
>"leadership" and differential rates of reproduction among dominant and
>sub-dominant males  in a genetically "isolated" human population. There is
>thus
>a genealogical connection between the  the human experiments carried
out by
>the
>AEC, and Neel's and Chagnon's Yanomami project, which was from the outset
>funded by the AEC.
>
>Tierney presents convincing evidence that Neel and Chagnon, on their
trip to
>the Yanomami in 1968, greatly exacerbated, and probably started, the epidemic
>of measles that killed "hundreds, perhaps thousands" (Tierney's language-the
>exact figure will never be known) of Yanomami. The epidemic appears to have
>been caused, or at least worsened and more widely spread, by a campaign of
>vaccination carried out by the research team, which used a virulent vaccine
>(Edmonson B) that had been counter-indicated by medical experts for use on
>isolated populations with no prior exposure to measles (exactly the Yanomami
>situation). Even among populations with prior contact  and consequent partial
>genetic immunity to measles, the vaccine was supposed to be used only with
>supportive injections of gamma globulin.
>
>It was known to produce effects virtually indistinguishable from the
>disease of
>measles itself.  Medical experts, when informed that Neel and his group used
>the vaccine in question on the Yanomami, typically refuse to believe it at
>first, then say that it is incredible that they could have done it, and
are at
>a loss to explain why they would have chosen such an inappropriate and
>dangerous vaccine. There is no record that Neel sought any medical advice
>before applying the vaccine. He never informed the appropriate organs
of the
>Venezuelan government that his group was planning to carry out a vaccination
>campaign, as he was legally required to do. Neither he nor any other
member of
>the expedition, including Chagnon and the other anthropologists, has ever
>explained why that vaccine was used, despite the evidence that it actually
>caused or at a minimum greatly exacerbated the fatal epidemic.
>
>Once the measles epidemic took off, closely following the vaccinations with
>Edmonson B, the members of the research team refused to provide any medical
>assistance to the sick and dying Yanomami, on explicit orders from
Neel. He
>insisted to his colleagues that they were only there to observe and
record the
>epidemic, and that they must stick strictly to their roles as
scientists, not
>provide medical help.
>
>All this is bad enough, but the probable truth that emerges, by implication,
>from Tierney's documentation is  more chilling. There was, it turns
out, a
>compelling theoretical motive for Neel to want to observe an epidemic of
>measles, or comparable "contact" disease, or at least an outbreak virtually
>indistinguishable from the real thing-precisely the effect that the
vaccine he
>chose was known to cause-and to produce one for this purpose if necessary.
>This
>motive emerges from Teirney's documentation of Neel's extreme eugenic theories
>and his documented statements about what he was hoping to find among the
>Yanomami, interpreted against the background of his long association
with the
>Atomic Energy Commission's secret experiments on human subjects.  Neel
>believed
>that  "natural" human society (as it existed everywhere before the
advent of
>large-scale a gricultural societies and contemporary states with their vast
>populations) consisted of small, genetically isolated groups, in which,
>according to his eugenically slanted genetic theories, dominant genes
>(specifically, a gene he believed existed for "leadership" or "innate
>ability")
>would have a selective advantage, because male  carriers of this gene could
>gain access to a disproportionate share of the available females, thus
>reproducing their own superior genes more frequently than less
"innately able"
>males. The result, supposedly, would be the continual upgrading of the human
>genetic stock. Modern mass societies, by contrast, consist of vast genetically
>entropic "herds" in which, he theorized, recessive genes could not be
>eliminated by selective competition and superior leadership genes would be
>swamped by mass genetic mediocrity. The political implication of this
>fascistic
>eugenics is clearly that society should be reorganized into small breeding
>isolates in which genetically superior males could emerge into dominance,
>eliminating or subordinating the male losers in the competition for leadership
>and women, and amassing harems of brood females.
>
>A big problem for this program, however, was the tendency, generally
>recognized
>by virtually all qualified population geneticists and epidemiologists, for
>small breeding isolates to lack  genetic resistance to diseases
incubated in
>other groups, and their consequent vulnerability to contact epidemics. For
>Neel, this meant that the emergence of genetically superior males in small
>breeding isolates would tend to be undercut and neutralized by epidemic
>diseases to which they would be genetically vulnerable, while the supposedly
>genetically entropic mass societies of modern democratic states, the
>antitheses
>of Neel's ideal alpha-male-dominated groups, would be better adapted for
>developing genetic immunity to such "contact" diseases. It is known
that Neel,
>virtually alone among contemporary geneticists, rejected the genetic (and
>historical) evidence for the vulnerability of genetically isolated
groups to
>diseases introduced through contact from other populations. It is possible
>that
>he thought that genetically superior members of such groups might prove to
>have
>differential levels of immunity and thus higher rates of survival to imported
>diseases. In such a case, such exogenous epidemics, despite the enormous
>losses
>of general population they inflict, might actually be shown to increase the
>relative proportion of genetically superior individuals to the total
>population, and thus be consistent with Neel's eugenic program. However this
>may have been, Tierney's well-documented account, in its entirety,  strongly
>supports the conclusion that the epidemic was in all probabilty deliberately
>caused as an  experiment designed to produce scientific support for  Neel's
>eugenic theory.  This remains only an inference in the present state of our
>knowledge: there is no "smoking gun" in the form of a written text or recorded
>speech by Neel. It is nevertheless the only explanation that makes
sense of a
>number of otherwise inexplicable facts, including Neel's known
interest in
>observing an epidemic in a small isolated group for which detailed
records of
>genetic and genealogical relations were available, his otherwise inexplicable
>selection of a virulent vaccine known to produce effects virtually identical
>with the disease itself, his behavior once the epidemic had started (insisting
>on allowing it to run its course unhindered by medical assistance while
>meticulously documenting its progress and the genealogical relations of those
>who perished and those who survived) and his own obdurate silence,
until his
>death in February, as to why he carried out the  vaccination program in the
>first place, and above all with the lethally dangerous vaccine.
>
>The same conclusion is reinforced by considering the objectives of the
>anthropological research carried out by Chagnon under Neel's initial direction
>and continued support. Chagnon's work has been consistently directed toward
>portraying Yanomami society as exactly the kind of originary human society
>envisioned by Neel, with dominant males (the most frequent killers)
having the
>most wives or sexual partners and offspring. If this pristine, eugenically
>optimal society could be shown to survive a contact epidemic with its
>structure
>of dominant male polygynists essentially intact, regardless of quantitatively
>serious population losses, Neel might plausibly be able to argue that his
>eugenic social vision was vindicated. If the epidemic was indeed produced
>as an
>experiment, either wholly or in part, the genetic studies on the
>correlation of
>blood group samples and  genealogies carried out by Chagnon and some of his
>students thus formed integral parts of this massive, and massively fatal,
>human
>experiment.
>
>As another reader of Tierney's ms commented,  Mr. Tierney's analysis is
a case
>study of the dangers in science of the uncontrolled ego, of lack of respect
>for
>life, and of greed and self-indulgence. It is a further extraordinary
>revelation of malicious and perverted work conducted under the aegis of the
>Atomic Energy Commission.
>
>Tierney's revelations begin, but do not end, with the 1968 epidemic.
There are
>many more episodes and sub-plots, almost equally awful, to his
narrative of
>the
>antics of anthropologists among the Yanomami. Enough has been said by this
>time, however, for you to see that  the Association is going to have to make
>some collective response to this book, both to the facts it documents
and the
>probable conclusions it implies.There will be a storm in the media, and
>another
>in the  general scholarly community, and no doubt several within anthropology
>itself. We must be ready. Tierney devotes much of the book  to a
critique of
>Napoleon Chagnon's work (and actions). He makes clear Chagnon has faithfully
>striven, in his ethnographic and theoretical accounts of the Yanomami, to
>represent them as conforming to Neel's ideas about the Hobbesian
savagery of
>"natural" human societies , and how this constitutes the natural selective
>context for the rise to social dominance and reproductive advantage of males
>with the gene for  "leadership" or "innate ability" (thus Chagnon's
>emphasis on
>Yanomami "fierceness" and propensity for chronic warfare, and the supposed
>statistical tendency for men who kill more enemies to have more female
>sexual/reproductive partners). He documents how all these aspects of Chagnon's
>account of the Yanomami are based on false, non-existent or misinterpreted
>data. In other words, Chagnon's main claims about Yanomami society, the ones
>that have been so much heralded by sociobiologists and other partisans
of his
>work, namely that  men who kill more reproduce more and have more female
>partners, and that such men become the dominant leaders of their communities,
>are simply not true. Thirdly and most troublingly, he reports that
Chagnon has
>not stopped with cooking and re-cooking his data on conflict but has actually
>attempted to manufacture the phenomenon itself, actually fomenting conflicts
>between Yanomami communities, not once but repeatedly.
>
>In his film work with Asch, for example, Chagnon induced Yanomami to enact
>fights and aggressive behavior for Asch's camera, sometimes building whole
>artificial villages as "sets" for the purpose, which were presented as
>spontaneous slices of Yanomami life unaffected by the presence of the
>anthropologists. Some of these unavowedly artificial scenarios, however,
>actually turned into real conflicts, partly as  a result of Chagnon's
>policy of
>giving vast amounts of presents to the villages that agreed to put on the
>docu-drama, which distorted their relations with their neighbors in
ways that
>encouraged outbreaks of raiding. In sum, most of the Yanomami conflicts that
>Chagnon documents, that are the basis of his interpretation of Yanomami
>society
>as a neo-Hobbesian system of endemic warfare, were caused directly or
>indirectly by himself: a fact he invariably neglects to report. This is not
>just a matter of bad ethnography or unreflexive theorizing: Yanomami were
>maimed and killed in these conflicts, and whole communities were
disrupted to
>the point of  fission and flight.(Brian Ferguson has also documented
some of
>this story, but Tierney adds much new evidence). As a general point, it is
>clear that Chagnon's whole Yanomami oeuvre is more radically continuous with
>Neel's eugenic theories, and his unethical approach to experimentation on
>human
>subjects, than appears simply from a reading of Chagnon's works by themselves.
>
>Chagnon is not the only anthropologist mentioned in Tierney's
narrative. Some
>of his students, like Hames and Good, are also dealt with (not so
>unfavorably).
>The F French  anthropologist, Jaques Lizot, also gets a chapter. He has had
>nothing to do with Neel or Chagnon (in fact has been a trenchant and cogent
>critic of their work), but he has an Achilles heel of his own in the
form of a
>harem of Yanomami boys that he keeps, and showers with presents in exchange
>for
>sexual favors (he has also been known to resort to young girls when
boys were
>unavailable). On the sexual front, there are also passing references to
>Chagnon
>himself demanding that villagers bring him girls for sex.
>
>There is still more, in the form of  collusion by Neel and Chagnon with
>sinister Venezuelan politicians attempting to gain control of Yanomami lands
>for illegal  gold mining concessions, with the anthropologists providing
>"cover" for the illegal mine developer as a "naturalist" collaborating with
>the
>anthropological researchers, in exchange for the politician's guaranteeing
>continuing  access to the Indians for the anthropologists.
>
>This nightmarish story  -a real anthropological heart of darkness beyond
>the     imagining of even  a Josef Conrad (though not, perhaps, a Josef
>Mengele)--will be seen (rightly in our view) by the public, as well as most
>anthropologists, as putting the whole discipline on trial. As another
>reader of
>the galleys put it, This book should shake anthropology to its very
>foundations. It should cause the field to  understand how the corrupt and
>depraved protagonists could have spread          their poison for so long
>while
>they were accorded great respect throughout the Western World and generations
>of undergraduates received their lies as the introductory substance of
>anthropology. This should never be allowed to happen again.
>
>We venture to predict that this reaction is fairly representative of the
>response that will follow the publication of Tierney's book and the New Yorker
>excerpt. Coming as they will less than two months before the San Francisco
>meetings, these publication events virtually guarantee that the Yanomami
>scandal will be at its height at the Meetings. This should give an optimal
>opportunity for the Association to mobilize the membership and the
>institutional structure to deal with it. The  writers, both emeritus
>members of
>the Committee for Human Rights, have arranged with Barbara Johnston, the
>present chair of the CfHR, that the open Forum put on by the Committee this
>year be devoted to the Yanomami case. This seemed the best way to
provide a
>venue for a public airing of the scandal, given that the program is of  course
>already closed. With Johnston's consent, we have invited Patrick
Tierney to
>come to the Meetings and be present at the Forum. He has accepted. He
has also
>agreed to have a copy of the book ms sent to Johnston, for the use of the
>CfHR.
>We have also tentatively agreed with Barbara that the CfHR should draft a
>press
>release, which the President (either or both of you) could (if you and the
>Executive Board approve) circulate to the media. There are obviously human
>rights aspects of this case that make the CfHR appropriate, but the Ethics
>Committee, the Society for Latin  American Anthropology, and the Association
>for Latina and Latino Anthropology should also be notified and involved,
>separately or jointly. These obviously do not exhaust the
possibilities--- a
>lot of thought and planning remains to be done. Our point is simply
that the
>time to start is now.
>
>------- End of Forwarded Message ______________________________ Donna J.
>Haraway History of Consciousness Dept. University of California at
Santa Cruz
>Santa Cruz, CA  95064 fax: 831-459-3733
>
>
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