DER Documentary

A Man Called "Bee": Studying The Yanomamo

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From the Yanomamö series
by Timothy Asch and Napoleon Chagnon
color, 40 min, 1974

This DVD is closed-captioned for the hearing impaired

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This is one of the few ethnographic films in which the anthropologist appears as one of the subjects, and as such it is a lively introduction to the nature of fieldwork. Napoleon Chagnon, who lived among the Yanomamo for 36 months over a period of eight years, is shown in various roles as "fieldworker": entering a village armed with arrows and adorned with feathers; sharing coffee with the shaman Dedeheiwa who recounts the myth of fire; dispensing eyedrops to a baby and accepting in turn a shaman's cure for his own illness; collecting voluminous genealogies; making tapes, maps, Polaroid photos; and attempting to analyze such patterns as village fission, migration, and aggression.

The commentary touches on the problems of the fieldworker (all the genealogies compiled in the first year were based on false data, and had to be discarded). Between the image and the commentary we also glimpse some of the ambiguities of the anthropologist's role and his relation to the subjects of his study, for example in the tension between mutual exploitation and reciprocity. The film complements Chagnon's book on his fieldwork, Studying the Yanomamo.

Related Resources
Study Guide

Film Festivals, Screenings, Awards
CINE Golden Eagle
American Film Festival Red Ribbon
Film Council of Greater Columbus, Chris Bronze Award

Other films in the Yanomamö series:
Arrow Game
The Ax Fight
Bride Service
Children's Magical Death
Climbing the Peach Palm
A Father Washes His Children
The Feast
Jaguar, a Yanomamo Twin Cycle Myth
Magical Death
A Man and His Wife Make a Hammock
Moonblood: A Yanomamo Creation Myth
Myth of Naro, as told by Dedeheiwa
Myth of Naro, as told by Kaobawä
New Tribes Mission
Ocamo is My Town
Tapir Distribution
Tug-of-War, Yanomamo
Weeding the Garden
Yanomamö: A Multidisciplinary Study
Yanomamö of the Orinoco

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