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  • New twist to the 'Yanomamö wars'

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A heated controversy involving an indigenous South American people and the most prominent anthropology body in the United States took a new twist last week. An anthropologist accused of misrepresenting the Yanomamö Indians of Venezuela is at the centre of the storm.

Last week, members of the American Anthropological Association (AAA) voted to reject a report by an AAA task force that had looked into charges levelled against the anthropologist. While exonerating him of the most serious charges, this report had argued that his representation of the Yanomamö was "damaging" to them.

Few, however, expect a ceasefire in the Yanomamö wars. A documentary on the affair is scheduled for broadcast in 2006, and some feel that the AAA should continue to monitor the charges. Others say that the field of anthropology itself is split between people trying to do science, and those who believe science has no place in the study of indigenous cultures.

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