World Video | Defence | Foreign Affairs | Natural Events | Trade | NZ in World News | NZ National News Video | NZ Regional News | Search

 


Jared Diamond’s new book ‘The World Until Yesterday’ racist

January 30, 2013

Jared Diamond’s new book ‘The World Until Yesterday’ slammed by Survival

Tribal rights organization Survival International has launched a vigorous critique of Pulitzer Prize-winner Jared Diamond’s new book ‘The World Until Yesterday: What Can We Learn from Traditional Societies?’, labelling it ‘dangerous nonsense,’ which, if believed, risks ‘pushing the advancement of human rights for tribal peoples back decades.’

In an article published by the US publication Daily Beast entitled ‘Savaging Primitives: Why Jared Diamond’s “The World Until Yesterday” is completely wrong’, Survival’s Director Stephen Corry attacks two of Diamond’s main messages: that today’s tribal peoples are a model of how everyone lived until a few thousand years ago (in a ‘world until yesterday’); and that tribal societies are more violent than industrialized societies.

Diamond argues that tribal peoples (he calls them ‘traditional societies’), while partly modified by contact, are best thought of as living more or less like humankind did until the ‘earliest origins of agriculture around 11,000 years ago in the Fertile Crescent’. But the idea that today’s tribal peoples live anything like humankind’s ancestors has been contested by many scientists. Like all societies, tribal societies change constantly in order to survive, and are just as much part of the 21st Century and ‘modern’ as everyone else.

Diamond argues further that tribal societies are considerably more violent than industrialized societies and that ‘most small-scale societies [are] trapped in… warfare’. His conclusions advocate the imposition of state governments, stating that ‘the biggest advantage of state government is the bringing of peace’.

But Corry questions the validity of Diamond’s data and concludes that the idea that tribal societies are more violent than industrialized ones is ‘dangerous nonsense’, and his conclusions akin to colonial ideas of ‘pacifying savages’.

Not only is Diamond’s argument based heavily on the work of a few anthropologists such as the widely discredited Napoleon Chagnon, it is the imposition of nation states which kills, rather than saves, tribal peoples. While most of Diamond’s research findings stem from his time in New Guinea, he ignores, for example, that the Indonesian invasion and occupation of the Western part of the island (by the Indonesian state government) has been responsible for an estimated 100,000 killings of Papuan tribal people.

While Diamond does not label tribal peoples ‘primitive’ or ‘savages’, some of his reviewers do. The British Sunday Times and American Wall Street Journal happily talk about what can be learnt from ‘primitive’ tribes and Germany’s popular Stern magazine splashed ‘savages’ in large letters over its pages when describing the book.

Stephen Corry writes, ‘The principal cause of the destruction of tribal peoples is the imposition of nation states. This does not save them; it kills them. Were those of Diamond’s persuasion to be widely believed, they risk pushing the advancement of human rights for tribal peoples back decades. Yesterday’s world repeated tomorrow? I hope not.’

Note: Napoleon Chagnon’s ethnography ‘Yanomamö: The Fierce People’ argues that the Yanomami are ‘sly, aggressive, and intimidating’ and engaged in ‘chronic warfare’. This has been widely discredited.

Survival International helps tribal peoples defend their lives, protect their lands and determine their own futures. Founded 1969.

www.survivalinternational.org/

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
World Headlines

 


$1 Billion In Reparations For Iraq's Invasion Of Kuwait

UN Panel Pays Out Over $1 Billion in Reparations for Iraq's Invasion of Kuwait More>>

UN-Backed Tsunami Warning System Test

A view of the destruction caused by the Indian Ocean tsunami of 26 December 2004 in Point Pedro, a small fishing village in northern Sri Lanka. UN Photo/Evan Schneider More>>

Al Jazeera To Mark 300 Days Since Arrests Of Journalists

• 300 second montage to mark 300 days to be aired on Al Jazeera • Parents of Peter Greste say the past 300 days has been stressful Doha , 23 October, 2014 More>>

4 Months’ Jail For French Journos Should Be Enough

'We hope it will be a lesson for foreigners to not violate their visas in Indonesia.' More>>

Support Needed For Olive Farmers In Palestinian Territory

Olive trees in the Palestinian town of Ni'lin in 2008 were very close to expanding Israeli settlements. Photo: IRIN/Shabtai Gold More>>

ALSO:

Use Of Drones In Law Enforcement May Violate Human Rights

22 October 2014 – The increasing use of armed drones within domestic law enforcement risks depersonalizing the use of force and infringing upon the rights of individual citizens, a United Nations independent human rights expert warned today. More>>

Gaza: Pledges For Aid, Reconstruction Must Be Honoured

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (left) addresses the Security Council meeting on the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian question. Security Council President for the month of October, María Cristina Perceval of Argentina, is at ... More>>

Ebola: UN Prepares For Arrival Of Trial Vaccines

In early October 2014, with the help of the US Navy, a new mobile laboratory opened at Island Clinic, one of the WHO-supported Ebola Treatment Units (ETU) in Monrovia, Liberia. Photo: WHO/R. Sørenson More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news