Anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon (1964) writes of the Yanomamo of Venezuela as “fierce people.” Detail what he means by this description and explain the justification that the Yanomamo place behind their violent way of life…
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The Yanomamo tribe of Venezuela lives in relatively small villages of around 40 to 250 people. For Chagnon, the Yanomamos are a “fierce people” because of their cultural practices. This particular group of people would usually express ferocity in several ways.
First of all, the ferocious and violent tendencies of the Yanomamos are reflected in their decisions to initiate intervillage warfare in order to prevent another tribe to attack them in the future or perhaps simply in order to demonstrate their ferocity. Secondly, the Yanomamos would usually beat their wives when they want to vent their anger. Nevertheless, the unreasonableness of this act is no match for the fact that men would sometimes engage in a chest-pounding duel and take part in free-for-all club fights in order to settle disputes of insults and excessive demands. Lastly and certainly not the least, the Yanomamos prove themselves as truly a “fierce people” when they force their sons to fight each other in public duels while they parents rejoice in their fights. Thus, there is no way to diffuse the warlike image for this is inculcated in the Yanomamo even at a young age.
All these violent and ferocious acts indeed somehow define the Yanomamos as a “fierce people.” The Yanomamos themselves have both a practical and a traditional or mythological origin for such ferocity that they demonstrate. The practical side to it is the idea that their ferocity is a “way of protecting valuable resources” and also a way of considering women and children as “valuable resources” (Robins, 2009). This means that the intervillage wars and the warlike predisposition of the Yanomamos serve either as a way to demonstrate superiority as well as to protect the tribe from attacks waged by other tribes. If the Yanomamos were not a “fierce people,” they would stand no chance against other tribes who would attack them at any time. Another justification of the Yanomamos for their being a “fierce” is mythological in origin. These people believe that people were “created from the blood of the moon” (Robins, 2009). According to this origin myth, the moon was believed by the ancients to have devoured the souls of their children. Because of this, the human beings shot the moon with an arrow and from the blood that flowed out of this wound, the Yanomamos were born. The fact that the birth of the Yanomamos was one of blood and revenge in a way paved the way for them to believe that they are indeed a “fierce people” and in many ways they demonstrated and perpetuated this image. Question 3: In your own words, review the characteristics of peaceful societies and link these characteristics to two of the following five societies: the Ju/Wasi, the Semain of West Malaysia, the Inuit, the Xinguano of the Amazon region in South America, and the Buid of the Philippines. Peaceful societies maintain their peace by constantly aiming for a number of things. Firstly, these societies place a high value on developing the values of sharing and cooperation. This is to alleviate and avoid conflicts over material resources. Somehow, peaceful societies believe that if there is one thing that would disturb the peace among the members of the community, it would be the selfishness, greed and the refusal to share possessions. Thus, these characteristics are absent in a peaceful society. The Ju/wasi and the Buid of the Philippines are two examples of societies that exemplify peace. These two societies share similar qualities, all of which are focused upon the good of the community as a whole, and not over material things or the benefit of the individual. Another characteristic of a peaceful society is the condemnation of those who boast about their accomplishments, especially if this would most likely trigger hatred, envy or
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