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

 

Peace Deal ‘first Step’ In Resolving South Sudan Crisis

Children at a protection of civilians site in Juba, South Sudan, run by the UN Mission, perform at a special cultural event in March 2015. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine More>>

Yemen: Killing Or Maiming An Average Of Eight Children A Day

Killing or maiming an average of eight children a day, ‘brutal’ Yemen conflict must end – UNICEF More>>

Changing Habits/behaviours Key To Overcome Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccine hesitancy can be caused by factors such as negative beliefs based on myths, misinformation. Fear of needles can be a factor for refusal. Photo: PAHO/WHO More>>

Burundi: Ban Condemns Assassination Of Senior Army Officer

Refugees from Burundi in South Kivu, Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Photo: OCHA/Naomi Frerotte United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the assassination Burundi’s former Army Chief of Staff, Colonel Jean Bikomagu, who ... More>>

Deadly Industrial Explosions In Northern China

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has been deeply saddened to learn of the loss of life and the injuries to scores of people as a result of deadly explosions in Tianjin, China. More>>

UN Urges Action To Tackle Deepening Refugee Crisis In Greece

A group of Syrian refugees arrive on the island of Lesbos after travelling in an inflatable raft from Turkey, near Skala Sykaminias, Greece. Photo: UNHCR/A. McConnell More>>

Probe Into Those Responsible For Chemical Weapons In Syria

The US Vessel Cape Ray, on which all 581 metric tonnes of a precursor chemical for sarin gas were removed from Syria and safely destroyed as the ship sailed in international waters in 2014. Photo: US Dept. of Transportation More>>

Myanmar Election: UNICEF Urges Prioritisation Of Children

With 99 days to go before Myanmar elections, UNICEF urges candidates make children the clear winner More>>

Liberia Thousands Of Unregistered Children Born During Ebola Crisis

Thousands of unregistered children born in Liberia during Ebola crisis at risk of exploitation – UNICEF More>>

UN Refugee Agency Envoy Angelina Jolie Visits Myanmar

UNHCR Special Envoy Angelina Jolie Pitt (left) in Myitkyina township, Kachin State, Myanmar, meeting with some of the 100,000 displaced people who currently live there. Photo: UNHCR/T.Stoddart More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news