Sunday, July 5, 2015

Uncontacted Tribes Don't Need the "Protection" of Western Anthropologists

US anthropologists Robert Walker and Kim Hill recently published an article in Science to argue that governments are violating their responsibility to "protect" isolated tribes if they eschew contact with them. Their argument threatens to undercut advances in indigenous rights that have painstakingly evolved over a generation.

Walker and Hill show how first contacts with isolated Amazon tribes result in massive population decline, but they nevertheless go on to claim it's "a violation of governmental responsibility" for governments to "refuse authorized, well-planned contacts." The magazine, which often employs the tropes of the "brutal savage" in its portrayal of tribal peoples, declined to print the critical comments that the anthropologists' article elicited.


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