Darkness in El Dorado Controversy - Archived Document

Internet Source: Society for Visual Anthropology, November 17, 2000
Source URL (Archive.org): http://etext.lib.virginia.edu/VAR/tim-resol.html

Statement Approved by the Board of Directors and Unanimously Passed by the Membership of the Society for Visual Anthropology

November 17, 2000

Whereas the Society for Visual Anthropology (SVA) is disturbed by allegations made in Patrick Tierney's "Darkness of El Dorado" that charge filmmaker Timothy Asch, in collaboration with ethnographer Napoleon Chagnon, with unethical and unprofessional practices in the construction and production of two ethnographic films, The Feast (1968) and The Ax Fight (1975) -- and the Board considers these allegations to be unjust;

Whereas the Board of Directors of the SVA has examined all of the Yanomamö films made by Asch and Chagnon -- and considers them to represent high ethical and professional standards;

Whereas the SVA has conducted several concurrent investigations into the particular historical circumstances surrounding the making of The Feast and The Ax Fight -- and concludes that Tierney's allegations against them are inappropriate and unfounded, and further considers the two films to represent particularly high ethical and professional standards;

Whereas a condemnation of the Yanomamö films necessarily casts a shadow of condemnation on Asch's filmmaking oeuvre in addition to his professional reputation -- as one of the founders of the SVA, as one of its first presidents, as a filmmaker and as a teacher of several generations of visual anthropologists -- and the Board considers every aspect of this condemnation to be unjust;

Whereas Asch is deceased and cannot defend himself against these accusations -- and the Board believes he deserves to be defended;

The Society for Visual Anthropology is satisfied that the work of Timothy Asch attained high ethical standards, has met the AAA's professional code of ethics, and deserves continued respect as an exemplar for Visual Anthropology. The Board deplores Patrick Tierney's attacks on Asch's reputation, on his films and his character, and believes the attacks to be completely unfounded.