Materialist, cultural and biological theories on why Yanomami make war

  title={Materialist, cultural and biological theories on why Yanomami make war},
  author={Robert B. Ferguson},
  journal={Anthropological Theory},
  pages={116 - 99}
  • R. Ferguson
  • Published 1 March 2001
  • Sociology
  • Anthropological Theory
For decades, there have been three primary anthropological perspectives on why people make war: materialist, cultural, and biological. Each has a long history of application to the Yanomami. This paper considers these three alternatives. First, it summarizes the author's materialist models and what they are purported to explain. Second, it discusses more cultural explanations offered by several field researchers, concluding that some might be synthesized with a materialist perspective, while… 

History, explanation, and war among the Yanomami: A response to Chagnon’s Noble Savages

Why do people make war? Is it in human nature? Publication of Napoleon Chagnon’s Noble Savages resurrects old arguments, largely displaced in recent times by study of larger scale political violence,

Ten Points on War

This article is a highly distilled summary of conclusions from three decades of research on war, involving examination of tribal societ­ ies, ancient states, recent civil wars, archaeology, biology

Anthropology, archaeology, and the origin of warfare

The main theories of the origin of warfare - from evolutionary psychology, materialism, and historical contingency - are examined. Their implications and their use of anthropological evidence,

Masculinity and War

Why is war so closely associated with men? Is it an expression of male nature or a product of culture? This survey of masculinity and war considers the proposition that men are predisposed to kill

Warfare in the New Guinea Highlands

This article considers changing images and practices of violence seen through the lens of two categories of the imaginary: assault sorcery and cannibalistic witchcraft. The ethnographic and

War and a semblance of peace in the Inca heartland

From interview transcripts and other written sources drawn from native testimony about warfare, an image can be developed of the conduct of war in the Inca heartland just before and during the Inca

Revenge: A Multilevel Review and Synthesis.

It is suggested that future studies on revenge would benefit from a multilevel perspective in which individual acts of revenge exist within higher-level cultural systems, with the potential to instigate change in these systems over time.

Finding Fear in the Iron Age Of Southern France

Abstract Changes in settlement organisation in Mediterranean France throughout the Iron Age have long been viewed as a social and cultural by-product of contact with Greece and Rome. While

What is interpretation?: A cultural neurohermeneutic account

This essay answers the question: what is interpretation? It does so by pro- posing that interpretation involves certain brain operations. These utilize percep- tual and procedural culture stored in

Toward an Archaeology of Food and Warfare

This brief introduction contextualizes our approach to an archaeology of food and warfare through an abbreviated review of three broad theoretical perspectives by which scholars typically consider



Warfare and Western Manufactures: A Case Study of Explanation in Anthropology

  • D. Steel
  • Philosophy
    Philosophy of Science
  • 1998
I use an explanation of Yanomami warfare given by the anthropologist Brian Ferguson as a case study to compare the merits of the causal and unification approaches to explanation. I argue that

The Anthropology of Peace and Nonviolence

The pioneering ideas of Glenn D. Paige for a paradigm shift from killing to nonkilling are highlighted. The relevance of anthropology for this paradigm is advanced. The accumulating scientific

Chronic problems in understanding tribal violence and warfare.

The paper concludes with a summary of some of the main features of Yanomamö violence and warfare, based on the author's field research and publications up to 1990, and introduces new data and theoretical issues that are emerging from his most recent field studies since 1990.

The Causes and Origins of "Primitive Warfare": On Evolved Motivations for War

Azar Gat's argument represents a major advance toward realism in neo-Darwinian theory on war. Consistently reasonable, plausible, with substantial evidence (on some points), his basic argument is

Ethnic Mobilization and the Seeds of Warfare: An Evolutionary Perspective

This paper develops the idea that a coherent theory of humanity's propensity for warfare can be constructed from the evolutionary model of man. It proposes that kin selection has interacted with

Yanomami Warfare: A Political History

Generations of college students know the Yanomami as the example of "natural" aggression in human society. These reputedly isolated people have been portrayed as fiercely engaging in constant warfare

Yanomami "Violence": Inclusive Fitness or Ethnographer's Representation?

  • B. Albert
  • Political Science
    Current Anthropology
  • 1989
Brazilian anthropologists have recently argued that Chagnon's (I988) work advancing a sociobiologically inspired theory of Yanomami "violence" has been widely disseminated by the Brazilian press to

War in the tribal zone : expanding states and indigenous warfare

War in the Tribal Zone, the 1991 anthropology of war classic, is back in print with a new Preface by the editors. Their timely and insightful essay examines the occurrence of ethnic conflict and

Raid, Retreat, Defend (Repeat): The Archaeology and Ethnohistory of Warfare on the North Pacific Rim

Warfare and violence played an important role in the history and development of complex hunter-gatherer societies on the north Pacific Rim. Wars were waged between islands over 700 km apart and

On Yanomamo Violence: Reply to Albert

Albert's (CA 30:637-40) criticism of my I988 article on Yanomamo violence and warfare is a repetition and elaboration of earlier arguments (see Carneiro da Cunha I989) to which I have already