Anthropology/Yanmamo Culture term paper 2218

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There are many differences between the South American Yanomamo culture and the

North American culture that we have adapted to, but just at there is culture

diversity between us, we have some similarities. The ethnography, which is

chose, was “Yanomamo” written by Napoleon A. Chagnon, anthropologists.

Chagnon tells us how to it was to live among the Yanomamo family, political and

warfare system versus the American Culture. The Yanomamo are of patrilineal

culture, male oriented and very sexist. For some reason they believe that, they

are superior to women, so do some men in American culture. However, they are

jolted back reality when the law gets involved, unfortunately Yanomamo men

don’t have this wake up call. Marriage is cross-cultural perspective. Yanomamo

marriages are much different from that of American marriages. Yanomamo women are

treated as materialistic objects and promised by their father or brother to a

Yanomamo man in return for reciprocity. The reciprocity could be another

Yanomamo women or political alliances. The trades are often practiced in the

Yanomamo culture. Polygamy is also a part of the Yanomamo culture. Yanomamo

women are kept in the male’s possession. The Yanomamo man tries to collect as

many wives as he possibly can in order to demonstrate his power and masculinity.

As polygamy in American Culture is referred to as bigamy which is against the

law. Besides, polygamy, the practice of infanticide plays a role in the lack of

women in their society. Yanomamo prefer to parent a male child rather than a

female child, so in case a female is born she is killed at birth. This again

proved their sexist beliefs that women are inferior. Many Yanomamo women fearing

their husbands kill a female infant to avoid disappointing their so-called

“better half”. To the people of American culture certain procedures of

murdering a new born baby would be considered brutal, horrific and mutilation.

But to the Yanomamo choking an infant to death with a vine, suffocating the

infant by the placing a stick across her throat, or simply throwing the child

against a tree and leaving it to suffer and then die is normal. Yet some

Americans would also suggest that abortion is just like murder also, so what’s

the difference! When an acceptable child is born into a Yanomamo family the

mother breast-feeds him for a relatively long time. Children are nursed until

they reach the age of at most, three or four. As long as the mother breast-feeds

she is less likely to be fertile. This is a natural contraceptive. But if a new

infant is born it will starve to death, because the older sibling would drink

most of the milk, specially if it is a female infant. Male children grow up to

be hunters and worriers. Female children although inferior (according to the

Yanomamo) are valuable objects of trade and political alliances. A confusing

aspect of the Yanomamo marriages is, even though polygamy is freely practiced so

is monogamy but only for the women. Adultery, just like in American culture, is

inexcusable to the Yanomamo. In this topic similarities make a breakthrough in

both cultures. If relationship between an American woman and an American man

goes putrescent and the woman becomes promiscuous violence is only expected by

the man. The problem is assault and battery charges can get you into a lot of

trouble, not to mention how much you would have to pay a lawyer. But Yanomamo

mean get away with their violent retaliation for being disrespected because

again there are no laws protecting Yanomamo women not that American women are

always protected by the law, it’s just a myth. The punishment for the Yanomamo

women who is only suspected of having an affair with another man is being beaten

with a club, burned, shot with a barbed arrow, or the man decides to detach a

limb (ex. Arm, leg...) with an ax or machete. Even though it seems as though

women are expendable is this culture she may have some one who would aid her if

she needed help, her brothers. A Yanomamo women’s endeavor and search for aid

is not always successful espically if her brothers are in a remote village that

you could reach if you walked for a couple of days. But if her brothers are

around and close enough for some strange reason she might get a little more

respect (not too much). Alliances or formal pacts between groups are

incorporated through trade and feasting. The relationships between these two

parties are strengthened when the exchange of women takes place. A political

alliance begins with an agreement to trade. Women for the Yanomamo are like how

money is for Americans. They need it for political game. But payment isn’t

usually made at the same time. Members of one village will go to another and

trade goods. The members of second village will have to reciprocate with other

type of items some time later. With this constant trade at hand one village is

always in debt to another. But this also is a good excuse for visiting the other

village, and as long they keep in touch they have a tight bond between them.

Another method of forming political alliances is feasting. Feasting is when one

village invites village for a feast or dinner. During the feast there is a lot

social activity. The Yanomamo dance and mingle with each other along with eating

a different variety of foods. The only catch is the other village must

reciprocate a feast by one village. This feast is more like an American dinner

party in which members of family or social group invite others to attend. A

feast however can be dangerous and or fatal for those who attend. The Yanomamo

can be very conniving and deceiving. They pretend to be loyal friends and invite

the other village for a feast. The other very village very trustfully attends

the feast not knowing that this might be their last meal. After the feast when

the guests are helplessly resting in their hammocks they are attacked and

brutally beaten to death. Yanomamo feasts can be dangerous, unlike American

dinner parties, which are not violent other than an occasional mishap. But

nothing likes the Yanomamo who plots a conspiracy to attack the guests. The

Yanomamo warfare is commonly motivated by revenge. Because the lack of women

many villagers raid on another village abducting as many women’s they possibly

can. While abducting women they try and kill as many enemies as they can. When

the village that was victimized has had some atonement and are prepared they

seek out for revenge on the village that attacked them, sometimes procuring the

women who were initially from their village. American warfare maybe a little

more involved then the Yanomamo. Our quarrels are not over women, unless it is

domestic, but our political reasons. And Americans don’t limit themselves,

just to satisfy their need for a war they go international. And with all of the

technology these day can do a lot more than villages. Americans also have

alliances other countries. These alliances are for backup, just in case a

country decides that imperialism is the key to a strong nation, the other

countries who signed the treaty back them up. But warfare for any society in my

opinion is barbaric and deplorable. The differences and similarities between the

Yanomamo culture and American culture maybe vast, but all humans have an

adoption to their culture. If an aspect of the Yanomamo culture is different

from American culture it’s discriminated against because it is not understood.

Keeping an open mind while I was reading the book was difficult because I was

shocked by some of the ways they conducted themselves. But I realized that

American don’t really conduct themselves in an orderly fashion at all time

either. The Yanomamo make use of the little technology they have,, we on the

other hand take advantage of the mass of technology that we have. The

similarities between the Yanomamo and Americans was crystal clear, I could

imagine Americans without technology living like the Yanomamo the only

difference would be Americans would not be handle themselves under theses



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