The Return of Napoleon Chagnon: On American “Cowboys” and Amazonian Indians, again

  • Gordana Gorunović Department of Ethnology and Anthropology Faculty of Philosophy University of Belgrade
Napoleon Chagnon, American cultural anthropology, Yanomami, anthropological controversies, sociobiology/ecology of human behavior, tribal societies


The immediate motive for the writing of this paper is the renewed interest in the controversial anthropologist Napoleon Chagnon, whose name, scientific work and authority (or the dubious value thereof) is firmly linked to the Yanomami people of South America. The image of the “paleolithic -neolithic” warrior culture of the Yanomami in the contemporary world, which was construed by the American anthropologist through his books and ethnographic films, was received by millions of people all over the world, including members of the Yanomami community. At the turn of the 21st century, this image backfired at its author, his ethnographic subjects and the discipline itself, and began to disintegrate. The ensuing controversies are the topic of this paper.


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