Re: Indigenous folks protect environment?

wilkr (wilkr@INDIANA.EDU)
Mon, 19 Sep 1994 10:17:33 -0500

I have a couple of sources for those seriously interested in 'primitive
environmentalism' and the idea of 'primitive harmony.' The first is A.T.
Rambo's "Primitive Polluters" which I did not like very much, but which
is full of examples of environmental catastrophies among non-western
people, including the trail of destruction caused by the colonization of
the polynesian islands. The second source is Robert Edgerton's "Sick
Societies: Challenging the Myth of Primitive Harmony." (1992, Free Press)

Both are polemical and political, but provide food for thought and a
counterpoint to all the "nature baby" rhetoric. The question is, however,
do we as anthropologists want to undercut the political positions being
taken by 4th world peoples in a last-ditch attempt to gain some control
over their natural resources, by publicizing stories of how they are
themselves bad stewards? Compared to Exxon, nothing the Yanomamo can do
is a drop in the ocean.

Rick Wilk

Richard Wilk Anthropology Dept.
812-855-8162 (voice) Indiana University
812-855-4358 (fax) Bloomington, IN 47405