Guilt by Association: The Culture of Accusation and the American Anthropological Association's Investigation of Darkness in El Dorado:


The American Anthropological Association's investigation of the charges in Darkness in El Dorado (Tierney 2000) found that the late James Neel and Napoleon Chagnon harmed the Yanomami in the course of their research in Venezuela and Brazil, and that Chagnon had violated the ethics code of the association. The association's inquiry contravened its own policy prohibiting ethics adjudications and was structured not by the standards of an objective investigation but by aspects of contemporary anthropology. Moralized approaches to information and postmodern rejection of objectivity mark the language and methods of the inquiry. The investigating task force did not observe reasonable standards of evidence, the targets of the investigation were not represented, and task force members were compromised by conflicts of interest. The investigation and its collateral activities reflect a culture of accusation and an anthropology uncertain of its ethical or scientific stature.