Re: Declaration of Indigenous Peoples on Genome Project

Nils Zurawski (zurawsk@UNI-MUENSTER.DE)
Fri, 10 Mar 1995 08:59:47 +0100

>True but what of the benefits of this knowledge. I agree that this could
>very well be a tool used to destroy people. People have the tendency to
>destroy. But just because something has the potential for bad is that
>any reason not to pursue it? If the US hadnt had the insatiable desire
>to get one over on the Soviets (and also have the ability to destroy
>them) neither you nor I would be using a computer today or surfing the net.
>So yes I agree that this could be bad but before it is condemned weigh
>the positive result against the negative.
>Todd N. Nims
>Auburn University, AL

I do not quite agree with that way of seeing history and developments. Of
course you are right when you say that bad things may have an good
off-spring, such as computers, but it ist dangerous to make that a rule,
because that might make people thnink they are not responsible for the
negative effects of what they do, e.g. the genome project, because in the
end it will turn out good anyway.

There has been a lot of discussion about the declaration and the value of
suc agendas. I don't want to bring it together here, but to make a few
points that got me really iterested.

Is anthropology genocidal?

I think some points Robert Johnson makes are at least something to think about.
In Germany a big critisism on ethnology/anthropology is that it is
museum-centered and as some put: necrophil. I do not share this entirely,
but must admit that some departments in this contry still teach
anthropology as nothing ever happend to these people, no colonial
encounters, no genocide by whom ever...

On the other hand, it is pretty stupid to label all anthropologist murders,
even if you are as engaged it these political issues as R.J. A little too
pathetic for me, though not to be overlooked as a starting point for a
To Ruby Rohrlich: Right, we do not command armies, but what is it we learn
from your little story: Do not get involved helping the people? I can't
think you meaning that, do you?
If someone feels like helping the people, any people, either in the field,
or at home, so let them please go ahead, if not, it is there choice. There
can't be any rule, any guideline for that, because after all, no one is
"only" an anthropologist and therefore "objectiv".

"Don't you believe it should be made illegal to go abroad and"
ignore the physical and cultural genocide of any people?

No way Robert Johnson, no brain and mind control please!! There must be
other ways to fight the in all respect honourable battle for the indegenous
people. The biggest obstacle for these ends are blindness, and ignorance,
even if you just want to help and be the one to warn the rest of us.

Another aspect of the discussion that I found striking was the one about

Caroline Jeannerat wrote:
The difference between gatherer-hunting, farming and genetic manipulation
is merely one of scale. Would agree that the impact of genetic
manipulation is potentially much higher, but in principle it is
the same thing.

To which the repley was:
I think you under-estimate the difference between environmental
manipulation and genetic m anipulation. This difference is not just one
of scale, but of degree. Did you ever read Huxley's "Brave New World"?
Ruby Rohrlich

No only Huxley but Nazi-Germany comes to my mind, thinking of eugenic,
genetics, and the like.
Being a german, part of my countries history is the eugenic killing of some
6, 7, 8 million people. This must not be forgotten tough it not always
looks that way over here....

I do not say this is he intention of those involved, but for me it seems
that the people involved are not enough aware of that fact. In this respect
I agree with Rob Prince and recommend his postings as well as an reply by

Going back to my beginning, I find the oint Allan Hanson makes in his
posting interesting.I think his point about negative and positive eugenics
is the crux of the whole issue.
Where is the line that divides these two? As he sees it, it is far from
being clear-cut.
Who defines negative and positive, does it change and what purpose do
categories like that serve?
I believe this are questions people involved in the genome project and in
genetics in general must ask themselves.

I admit this post looks a little confused, but it is exactly the way I felt
about his discussion, though this isn't anything negative, but a way of
getting things straightend out.