Friday, December 9, 2016

What do you know about the Yanomamo People?

UCF-Gender & Culture questionnaire:

Describe the Yanomamo, where they live, gender roles, how they react to Chagnon living with them. Do they accept him, etc?
The Yanomamo people also called the “Yanomami” are an indigenous tribe who live in the rainforest of the Amazon which is located between the borders of Brazil and Venezuela.  A semi nomadic indigenous people and a very isolated ethnic group consisting of approximately 35,000.00 members divided by 200 to 250 communal villages which are political and economically independent from each other.  Hunting, fishing, and horticultural gardening are among the practice used for survival.  The Yanomami are very superstitious and use strength and force to represent their manhood.  Furthermore, the Yanomami people blame all deaths to revenge and evil spirits. The supernatural is fought with ceremonies to send the spirits away and to clean the soul from evil ghosts.  

Children at a very early age strike and hit each other forcibly as a sign of been fearless and strong.  Violence is very prominent and celebrated among men.  The people in the tribe do not wear a lot of clothes.  Women wear accessories such as feather or flowers and the man wear loincloths.  They practice polygyny and can marry outside their villages.   Gender roles are very specific; at an early age the indigenous boys are taught to be ferocious and savage, they often receive accolades when acting aggressively towards their peers and the little girls have no voice.  Women are only important because they can help with chores and small children and also are an asset to their brothers, male relatives, or father when giving away in marriage.  Women often suffer violence and abuse and can only be rescue by a male relative if he considers her life to be in danger.  

The Yanomamis in the video look as if they accepted Professor Chagnon and it is clear that they developed a trusting relationship.  There is a lot of controversy among the anthropology community in regards to his methods and some scholar even accused him or altering the study by paying the men to fight and to perform acts of violence.  Regardless of all controversy one can see in the documentary that the Yanomami people accepted him and made him part of their lives.  He respectfully learned their language and customs and was able to create an environment of trust between the tribe and himself.

Tell me how you think you would react to living with such a remote group. Do you think it would be difficult, exciting, interesting?
     The documentary reinforced my goal and dream of one-day spending months and years, immerse in my studies, learning a culture or civilization, been part of the lives of the people I’ll be researching.  My reaction would have been full of excitement, anticipation, fear, and happiness.  Probably would have learned the language and custom also out of respect to their culture.  A research such as the one Professor Chagnon did is a combination of exhilaration, happiness, and trepidation.  Any anthropologists would have been honor to be part of such interacted and interesting study.

If you were an anthropologist, would you keep your distance or get involved with activities like Chagnon?
     My goal is to finish my bachelors in UCF and get my master in Anthropology abroad; doing a research in some remote area of the world, studying some undiscovered tribe or scrutinizing a well-known society.  As an anthropologist participant observation will be my must use technique as it will allow me to learn, understand, and respect my subjects.  I will only keep my distance just to safeguard the well-being of others or myself.  In 2010 I was lucky enough to study abroad in Seville, Spain and without my knowledge I became a participant observer of such beautiful culture.  

I recorded a mini documentary which it has never been published but it was an honest way of collecting data from the everyday real people of Seville.  The video has interviews with people from all walks of life from the 78-year-old lady who works in the “paleteria” candy stand, the University Professor who taught me (propaganda of the masses), to the singers, musicians, and dancers on the street.  My conclusion was that we may come from different cultures or regions but our similarities are uncanny and as human we all want the same thing, love, respect, and acceptance.

Reading about all the wrangles surrounding Professor Chagnon study, educated me about all the controversies that may raise from any study.  Anthropologists will always encompass controversies; however, we must continue to study the world to be able to understand one another and learn from each other’s culture to construct a better world. 
Brava <3 span="">

Chen, E. (2014, September 29). Case Study: Yanomami and the Evolution of a Culture.
Retrieved November 18, 2016, from

Chagnon, N. (2016, January). 'Yanomamo: The Fierce People' -Napoleon A. Chagnon.

Retrieved November 18, 2016, from     

"Life is the result of our choices" - Brava