It’s late in the game, as the story has already made the rounds, but I guess I was under a rock.
FUNAI, a Brazilian foundation which aims to help indigenous groups, has released pictures of a relatively isolated group in the Amazon region. Apparently, the purpose of those pictures was to show how healthy these people seemed to be, contrary to folk beliefs about indigenous groups. These folk beliefs are widespread in post-industrial societies and seem to relate to basic ethnocentrism.
Some major media outlets released those same pictures with captions and other comments about allegedly “uncontacted tribes.” Through the “telephone game,” the same images became part of an awkwardly anachronistic coverage of cultural diversity, many comments being made from a resolutely neo-evolutionist perspective. A whole debacle ensued. Several anthropologists have been contacted to comment on the situation.
So far, the most thoughtful piece of writing I’ve seen about the whole situation is this one:
‘Uncontacted Indians?!’ — contact an anthropologist! « Culture Matters
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if media debacles such as this one could be avoided? One would hope that a good dose of critical thinking and some thoughtful blogging might help.
One thought on “Culture and Health: Contact and Coverage”
Glad to see some French-speaking coverage of the group being more careful: http://www.letelegramme.com/gratuit/generales/monde/bresil-les-premieres-photos-dune-tribu-coupee-du-monde-20080531-3174950_1345024.php
“Cut from the world” still seems inaccurate, but no claim is made that the members of the group are “uncontacted.” In fact, this piece seems relatively close to what Meirelles is likely to have said.