The 82nd Annual Meeting of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists (2013)

Laying the Yanomami to rest: the endless saga of the blood samples


Anthropology, Penn State University

Saturday 9:15-9:30, Ballroom A Add to calendar

After years of struggle we are nearing the time when the Yanomami blood samples collected from Brazil nearly 50 years ago can be returned and laid to rest by their funereal rites. This has been a complex story of legitimate rights and grievances, demagoguery and posturing, misunderstanding, legitimate science and opportunism. Accusations made about the nature of research in this population have been sensationalized, but the merits (or otherwise) of these accusations are unclear. In any case, to the extent any population can withdraw from a study long after becoming part of it, for whatever (or no) reason, this will happen for the Brazilian Yanomami. It has not been easy, and perhaps more profoundly, the return will be symbolic and will not settle any of the legitimate grievances they may have, because whatever may have been done to, or for, the Yanomami, no evils have to my knowledge resulted from the blood samples themselves.

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