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FW: [ANTHRO-L] Final Report of the AAA El Dorado Task Force

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Ian Pitchford [mailto:ian.pitchford@scientist.com] Sent: Tue 7/2/2002 7:39 AM To: ANTHRO-L@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU Cc: Subject: [ANTHRO-L] Final
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2002
      [ANTHRO-L] Final Report of the AAA El Dorado Task Force
      -----Original Message-----
      From: Ian Pitchford [mailto:ian.pitchford@...]
      Sent: Tue 7/2/2002 7:39 AM
      To: ANTHRO-L@...
      Subject: [ANTHRO-L] Final Report of the AAA El Dorado Task Force

      Final Report of the AAA El Dorado Task Force

      Preface for El Dorado Task Force Papers

      At its February meeting, 2001, the Executive Board of the AAA established a
      five-member Task Force, with AAA Past President Jane Hill serving as chair, to
      conduct an inquiry into the allegations contained in Darkness in El Dorado by
      Patrick Tierney. The Task Force considered allegations concerning (1) the
      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.

      The El Dorado Task Force Report is now available on the AAA website. It is
      critical to note several features of this Report.

      First, readers should be aware that the papers, documents, and interviews
      included in this Report reflect a very wide range of perspectives, histories,
      and interpretations. The Task Force has taken care to identify the sources and
      circumstances of the included materials, and they should be read with equal
      care. In some cases, the collected materials bear consistent witness, making it
      possible to determine the truth or falsity of allegations with reasonable
      certainty. In other cases, agreement can be reached about the actions of
      certain anthropologists, but there is disagreement as to the moral standing of
      these actions. In still other cases, there is no agreement even as to past
      actions. In some cases, discordant accounts are included because they are
      worthy of reflection in their own right, rather than as evidence that certain
      events did or did not occur.

      Second, earlier versions of the report were made available through the AAA
      website for member commentary; the final section of the report includes
      commentary submitted prior to April 19, 2002 and judged by the Task Force as
      making a substantive contribution to issues within the scope of its charge.
      These comments reflect the views of individuals and not of the AAA or of the El
      Dorado Task Force.

      Substantive conclusions of the Report include the following:

      First, it is clear that the Yanomami are currently in a position of great
      danger, with exceptionally high rates of infant mortality, African River
      Blindness, and malaria. Their land, livelihood, and lives are imperiled.
      Central to the Task Force's concerns is the future of the Yanomami and the ways
      through which AAA and other concerned individuals and groups might be able to
      help ameliorate a desperate situation.

      Second, The AAA believes that the greatest value of this Report is not to find
      fault with or to defend the past actions of specific anthropologists, but to
      provide opportunities for all anthropologists to consider the ethics of several
      dimensions of the anthropological enterprise.

      Third, Darkness in El Dorado calls attention to the dire plight of the Yanomami
      and other indigenous people of the Amazon and has caused anthropologists to
      reflect deeply upon the ways in which they conduct research. However, the book
      contains numerous unfounded, misrepresented, and sensationalistic accusations
      about the conduct of anthropology among the Yanomami. These misrepresentations
      fail to live up to the ethics of responsible journalism even as they pretend to
      question the ethical conduct of anthropology.

      In response to the Report, the Executive Board has taken the following actions:

      1) The Board has accepted the Report with thanks.

      2) The Report with accompanying documents has been posted on the AAA website.

      3) In the interests of disseminating the Report to Spanish and
      Portuguese-speaking readers, the Board has directed the Executive Director of
      the AAA to obtain estimates for translation of the substantive sections of the
      Report. The AAA will also make these materials available to Yanomami groups.

      4) The Board calls upon appropriate bodies within the AAA to continue to
      consider those issues raised in the El Dorado Task Force Report relating to the
      current and future conditions of the Yanomami and other indigenous communities
      in South America, and to devise appropriate responses in collaboration with
      appropriate indigenous communities and South American colleagues. We look to
      the newly named AAA Commission on the Status of Indigenous Peoples in South
      America to lead these efforts.

      5) The Board calls upon the membership of AAA to explore the implications of
      the El Dorado Task Force Report for anthropological research, practice, and
      training in the 21st century. We look to the Committee on Ethics to be central
      in these efforts.

      6) The Board encourages the development of programs at the Annual Meetings of
      the AAA, Section meetings, and other fora to continue discussion of the major
      issues for anthropological theory, methods, and practice raised by the Report:
      collaborative research; representation of research findings; the complex
      relation between anthropological representations and the uses of anthropology
      outside the profession; the moral responsibilities inherent in accusation;
      health issues of vulnerable populations; the complex questions of who speaks
      for whom on indigenous issues; informed consent and human subject review
      procedures; anthropology's role and responsibilities in the field of global
      structures of inequality.

      7) AAA will take the initiative in facilitating discussion between the Yanomami
      and the scientists who hold their blood or other bodily samples as to the
      disposition of those materials.

      The Board expresses its deep appreciation to Janet Chernela, Fernando Coronil,
      Ray Hames, Trudy Turner, and Joe Watkins for their participation on the Task
      Force, to Kim Guthrie for providing staff support for the Task Force, to all
      those who participated in the inquiry and subsequent conversations, and,
      particularly, to Jane H. Hill for her extraordinary service as Task Force

      El Dorado Task Force Papers - Volume One (pdf - 500kb)

      El Dorado Task Force Papers - Volume Two (pdf - 726kb)

      All PDF files require Adobe Acrobat Reader.

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