Join 3,437 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Influenza in the Amazon
March 27, 2008 2:19 PM   Subscribe

A British TV crew have been accused of spreading flu to a remote Peruvian tribe of 250 members, leading to 4 deaths.

TV director Matt Currington (google cache) and team were researching for the Discovery channel in the Peruvian Amazon, when flu struck the Matsigenka people. Despite denials from the production company, US anthropologist Glen Shepherd has substantiated the allegations.
posted by roofus (17 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
Disease is mankind's strongest enemy--but to the longer you avoid them, the more power they have over you.
posted by Citizen Premier at 2:46 PM on March 27, 2008


It's unfortunate that these people got a hard dose of flu for the purpose of filming a Discovery Channel special that treats them like a side-show, but what's the alternative? Treat these people like some side-show that must be kept separate from the rest of the world? Do we disallow them the chance to partake in modern knowledge and technology so that we can keep them "pure" and ignorant for some sort of social nostalgia?
posted by crazy finger at 2:57 PM on March 27, 2008


...but what's the alternative?

Give them a flu vaccine first?
posted by vacapinta at 3:03 PM on March 27, 2008


Do we disallow them the chance to partake in modern knowledge and technology so that we can keep them "pure" and ignorant for some sort of social nostalgia?

If they seek us out, they are more than welcome to do so, but your entire comment reeks of ethnocentrism.
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 3:05 PM on March 27, 2008 [2 favorites]


Give them a flu vaccine first?

Yeah. If I lived in a remote village, the first thing I'd do is let some stranger stick a needle in me.
posted by Dave Faris at 3:17 PM on March 27, 2008 [3 favorites]


You'd have to give them a vaccine for everything.
posted by event at 3:32 PM on March 27, 2008


Just assuming that everyone wants the same thing is the first problem. It seems to me likely that there will be people who want to maintain their traditional life, and others who don't. But then the problem becomes how people can make an informed choice.
posted by cluck at 3:57 PM on March 27, 2008


Brings to mind 'Guns, Germs, and Steel' and the impact one society can have on another.
posted by ericb at 4:14 PM on March 27, 2008


Also -- I can't help but think of Survival International -- "The Movement for Tribal Peoples."
posted by ericb at 4:17 PM on March 27, 2008


Do we disallow them the chance to partake in modern knowledge and technology so that we can keep them "pure" and ignorant for some sort of social nostalgia?

There are tribes along the Amazon who have made it very clear that they do not want visitors from the "modern" world. Missionaries and the like who have said "oh, but surely they don't mean us" have ended up dead.

But then the problem becomes how people can make an informed choice.

There's also the problem that the so-called "informed" choice is not accurately understood or represented. Tribal people who believe the stories and head for the cities and the imagined good life quite typically end up living in what amount to open sewers with gunfire. If they want an informed choice they're better off learning from the stories told by the other groups who live around them than from naive, self-important first-worlders who'll be getting on a plane in a few weeks and returning to a world they'll never be able to join.
posted by George_Spiggott at 4:19 PM on March 27, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do we disallow them the chance to partake in modern knowledge and technology so that we can keep them "pure" and ignorant for some sort of social nostalgia?

If they seek us out, they are more than welcome to do so, but your entire comment reeks of ethnocentrism.


Agreed.

Progress Can Kill.
"Forcing 'development' or 'progress' on tribal people does not make them happier or healthier. In fact, the effects are disastrous.

The most important factor by far for tribal peoples' well-being is whether their land rights are respected."
posted by ericb at 4:20 PM on March 27, 2008


"No fair! You changed the outcome by observing it!"
posted by furtive at 5:57 PM on March 27, 2008


WHO doesn't have rules for these groups that go into these remote regions? Perhaps they're too worried about catching something from the indigenous people.
posted by meanderthal at 6:05 PM on March 27, 2008


I'd tell you all the truth about why this had to happen, and how it was an inevitable product of legacy colonial systems, but you see, according to Artw we're not allowed to bitch about the British TV license fee anymore.
posted by cosmonik at 8:18 PM on March 27, 2008


I'd love to know what the filming of a show for the Discovery Channel could possibly have to do with the license fee, cosmonik...
posted by flashboy at 2:59 AM on March 28, 2008


What's fascinating is the romanticism which the show is trying to achieve, finding places "without" western influences. Obviously from an immediate reaction someone wearing a Nirvana T-shirt in the Amazon may seem like American culture is everywhere. All it means is American clothing is everywhere. I've traveled to some "ends of the world" (so called because everyone always asked "what are you doing here at the end of the world") and met plenty of people whose television only led them to believe that Iraqi car bombs were exploding in some place called America (a place where everyone is rich, but constantly at war).

The world has changed. Camel caravans rarely traverse the Sahara anymore, it's mostly people packed in the back of cargo trucks - but that doesn't make it any less interesting.
posted by iamck at 6:27 AM on March 28, 2008 [1 favorite]


Do we disallow them the chance to partake in modern knowledge and technology...

I'm not sure "being featured on a TV show they can never watch" amounts to "partaking in modern knowledge" from their perspective.
posted by pseudostrabismus at 7:44 AM on March 28, 2008


« Older No, I am not just trying to get your attention...  |  Perhaps inspired by Taco Bell'... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments