Prof. Scott Stull
A Man Called “Bee”: Studying the Yanomamo
In February of 1971, ethnographer Napoleon Chagnon went against all the negative outcomes of visiting a village that had never seen a foreigner before, to see what it was like to live with the Yanomamo people. He spent thirty-six months with the Yanomamo and eventually understood their culture completely by studying their ways through ethnographic methods.
“Shanki” or the man they called “Bee” was the ethnographer who observed and studied the culture of the Yanomamo. He told audiences about the Yanomamo, a culture not yet experienced by the outside world, from his perspective and through the information he gathered during his studies. Shanki used video cameras and took photographs to observe the Yanomamo culture. The audience was able to observe and get a sense of what the people were like, where they lived, and how they lived their lives. Within the video he shows how he began to interact with the people as soon as he could. He tried to integrate into their society and become a welcomed member to study their practices more clearly through participating in many of their set activities. One example of a set activity that Shanki participated in that was very important to the Yanomamo people was ridding of bad spirits. During this activity the people used strange body movements and had to lick their fingers all in an attempt to get rid of the bad entity. Shanki was wished for a sense of belonging among the Yanomamo people and he noticed that he could become involved in their community and get the people to accept him by being very open to learning their beliefs and cultural practices. He learned that they had very strong cultural beliefs. One example of a strong belief of the Yanomamo people would be their healing rituals. The people believed that if someone were to get sick that had to talk to the spirits for you to get better. Although...
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