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

 

UN Health Agency Responds To Ebola Spike

UN health agency responds to Ebola spike by deploying team on border of Guinea and Guinea-Bissau More>>

UN Casts Israel As World's Worst Violator Of Health Rights

Israel's army team of medics recently treated 1,600 victims of the Nepal earthquake. More>>

W Thousands Flee Syria’s Besieged Historic City Of Palmyra

As thousands flee Syria’s besieged historic city of Palmyra, UN refugee agency readies response plan More>>

UN Agency To Halt Housing Allowance For Palestine Refugees

Lack of funds forces UNRWA to suspend cash assistance for housing for Palestinian refugees from Syria in Lebanon. Photo: UNRWA/Shafiq Fahed More>>


Bangkok: International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, Biphophia

BMA, UN, embassy representatives, civil society and artists stand united with LGBTI Thais on International Day against Transphobia, Homophobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT) at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre More>>

Displaced Iraqis Face Difficulties As Fighting Continues

UNHCR is concerned about the processing arrangements in place at the Bzabz bridge – a series of pontoons across the Euphrates River which marks the boundary between Anbar province and the capital, Baghdad. Photo: UNHCR/G. Ohara More>>

UNESCO Chief Condemns Killing Of Bangladeshi Blogger

Director-General of the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova. UN Photo/Devra Berkowitz The head of the United Nations agency with a mandate to defend freedom of expression and press freedom worldwide today voiced ... More>>

Philadelphia: Train Crash

Five people have been confirmed dead and more than 136 people injured after an Amtrak train crashed in Philadelphia today at 9.20pm local time.More>>

UN News: Alarming Surge In Bay Of Bengal Crossings

The number of irregular migrants crossing the Bay of Bengal has almost doubled over the past year amid a dangerous uptick in human smuggling and trafficking across the region, according to a new report from the United Nations refugee agency. More>>

Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
World
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news