There are many differences between the South American Yanomamo culture and theNorth American culture that we have adapted to, but just at there is culturediversity between us, we have some similarities. The ethnography, which ischose, was “Yanomamo” written by Napoleon A. Chagnon, anthropologists. Chagnon tells us how to it was to live among the Yanomamo family, political andwarfare system versus the American Culture. The Yanomamo are of patrilinealculture, male oriented and very sexist.
For some reason they believe that, theyare superior to women, so do some men in American culture. However, they arejolted back reality when the law gets involved, unfortunately Yanomamo mendont have this wake up call. Marriage is cross-cultural perspective. Yanomamomarriages are much different from that of American marriages. Yanomamo women aretreated as materialistic objects and promised by their father or brother to aYanomamo man in return for reciprocity.
The reciprocity could be anotherYanomamo women or political alliances. The trades are often practiced in theYanomamo culture. Polygamy is also a part of the Yanomamo culture. Yanomamowomen are kept in the males possession.
The Yanomamo man tries to collect asmany 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 thelaw. Besides, polygamy, the practice of infanticide plays a role in the lack ofwomen in their society. Yanomamo prefer to parent a male child rather than afemale child, so in case a female is born she is killed at birth.
This againproved their sexist beliefs that women are inferior. Many Yanomamo women fearingtheir husbands kill a female infant to avoid disappointing their so-called”better half”. To the people of American culture certain procedures ofmurdering a new born baby would be considered brutal, horrific and mutilation. But to the Yanomamo choking an infant to death with a vine, suffocating theinfant by the placing a stick across her throat, or simply throwing the childagainst a tree and leaving it to suffer and then die is normal. Yet someAmericans would also suggest that abortion is just like murder also, so whatsthe difference! When an acceptable child is born into a Yanomamo family themother breast-feeds him for a relatively long time. Children are nursed untilthey reach the age of at most, three or four.
As long as the mother breast-feedsshe is less likely to be fertile. This is a natural contraceptive. But if a newinfant is born it will starve to death, because the older sibling would drinkmost of the milk, specially if it is a female infant. Male children grow up tobe hunters and worriers.
Female children although inferior (according to theYanomamo) are valuable objects of trade and political alliances. A confusingaspect of the Yanomamo marriages is, even though polygamy is freely practiced sois monogamy but only for the women. Adultery, just like in American culture, isinexcusable to the Yanomamo. In this topic similarities make a breakthrough inboth cultures. If relationship between an American woman and an American mangoes putrescent and the woman becomes promiscuous violence is only expected bythe man.
The problem is assault and battery charges can get you into a lot oftrouble, not to mention how much you would have to pay a lawyer. But Yanomamomean get away with their violent retaliation for being disrespected becauseagain there are no laws protecting Yanomamo women not that American women arealways protected by the law, its just a myth. The punishment for the Yanomamowomen who is only suspected of having an affair with another man is being beatenwith a club, burned, shot with a barbed arrow, or the man decides to detach alimb (ex. Arm, leg. .
. ) with an ax or machete. Even though it seems as thoughwomen are expendable is this culture she may have some one who would aid her ifshe needed help, her brothers. A Yanomamo womens endeavor and search for aidis not always successful espically if her brothers are in a remote village thatyou could reach if you walked for a couple of days.
But if her brothers arearound and close enough for some strange reason she might get a little morerespect (not too much). Alliances or formal pacts between groups areincorporated through trade and feasting. The relationships between these twoparties are strengthened when the exchange of women takes place. A politicalalliance begins with an agreement to trade. Women for the Yanomamo are like howmoney is for Americans.
They need it for political game. But payment isntusually made at the same time. Members of one village will go to another andtrade goods. The members of second village will have to reciprocate with othertype of items some time later. With this constant trade at hand one village isalways in debt to another.
But this also is a good excuse for visiting the othervillage, 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 onevillage invites village for a feast or dinner. During the feast there is a lotsocial activity. The Yanomamo dance and mingle with each other along with eatinga different variety of foods.
The only catch is the other village mustreciprocate a feast by one village. This feast is more like an American dinnerparty in which members of family or social group invite others to attend. Afeast however can be dangerous and or fatal for those who attend. The Yanomamocan be very conniving and deceiving. They pretend to be loyal friends and invitethe other village for a feast. The other very village very trustfully attendsthe feast not knowing that this might be their last meal.
After the feast whenthe guests are helplessly resting in their hammocks they are attacked andbrutally beaten to death. Yanomamo feasts can be dangerous, unlike Americandinner parties, which are not violent other than an occasional mishap. Butnothing likes the Yanomamo who plots a conspiracy to attack the guests. TheYanomamo warfare is commonly motivated by revenge. Because the lack of womenmany villagers raid on another village abducting as many womens they possiblycan.
While abducting women they try and kill as many enemies as they can. Whenthe village that was victimized has had some atonement and are prepared theyseek out for revenge on the village that attacked them, sometimes procuring thewomen who were initially from their village. American warfare maybe a littlemore involved then the Yanomamo. Our quarrels are not over women, unless it isdomestic, but our political reasons.
And Americans dont limit themselves,just to satisfy their need for a war they go international. And with all of thetechnology these day can do a lot more than villages. Americans also havealliances other countries. These alliances are for backup, just in case acountry decides that imperialism is the key to a strong nation, the othercountries who signed the treaty back them up. But warfare for any society in myopinion is barbaric and deplorable.
The differences and similarities between theYanomamo culture and American culture maybe vast, but all humans have anadoption to their culture. If an aspect of the Yanomamo culture is differentfrom American culture its discriminated against because it is not understood. Keeping an open mind while I was reading the book was difficult because I wasshocked by some of the ways they conducted themselves. But I realized thatAmerican dont really conduct themselves in an orderly fashion at all timeeither.
The Yanomamo make use of the little technology they have,, we on theother hand take advantage of the mass of technology that we have. Thesimilarities between the Yanomamo and Americans was crystal clear, I couldimagine Americans without technology living like the Yanomamo the onlydifference would be Americans would not be handle themselves under thesescircumstances.