First, an apology — in the past two weeks I’ve tried to finish an edited volume, a full-length monograph, finals for my classes, and two book reviews (among other things) so I have not had the time to delve into the comments on the posts related to Jared Diamond. Luckily it looks like the community has produced a lot of them, so hopefully it doesn’t need me. This is a good thing because I will soon be travelling to Papua New Guinea for research over the summer and will have even less time to post. I hope the story will continue to get the attention it deserves.
This leads me to, second, an announcement, because I (and others) are leaving for the summer for research and we find ourselves unable to keep up with posting essays of, what has turned out to be, more contributors than anticipated. StinkyJournalism.org will continue the series with the same editors. I’ll comment from Papua New Guinea as time allows.
Third, a quick roundup of various links to the Diamond/Wemp affair. Some links from around the blogosphere — Clay Spinuzzi (an extremely excellent activity-theorist type who Bonnie Nardi turned me on to) has a nice right-up of the Diamond/Wemp affair entitled Participants Can Respond. Uh-oh. It nicely boils down the underlying dynamic of the debate:
Although institutional research boards have historically been conceived as a way to protect participants from researchers’ representations, social media mean that the danger is now bidirectional – participants can represent the researcher in damaging ways as well, and those representations could easily circulate more broadly than the researcher’s.
Bidrectionality: There you have it, folks.
In a very ‘university of blogaria’ vein (this reference will probably make sense to noone but me), Millicent and Carla Fran have a nice entry on Jared Diamond’s Creative (Non)Fiction and Nostalgic Anthropology and a response which is classy and thoughtful.
Stinky Journalism also has another piece in their series up by Glenn Peterson on matrilineal clans and the containment of violence in Micronesia which further fortifies the claim that ‘stateless’ socities have structures which shape — and sometimes prevent — violence. They are not ‘states of nature’ in which vengeance runs amok. I have the impression that Glenn is not well-known out of Oceanist circles, but I hope I’m wrong in this because he is a very, very intelligent guy and I am very junior to him in the small world of anthropology in Oceania.
Finally, the main link of the day — Science Magazine is running a story ‘Vengeance’ Bites Back At Jared Diamond, which represents the most thoroughly research coverage of the case so far. I was interviewed for the piece and, more importantly, so was Jared Diamond and staff at the New Yorker, making it the first time they have commented on record on the case.
What Diamond has to say is not that actually that interesting — he is only quoted as saying “the case has no merit at all”. But what is interesting about the piece is that it describes, at least a little bit, the production of the New Yorker article. In comments on one of our postings on Diamond, I mentioned that I thought we had an excellent record of what happened in Nipa, and how various people say it was or wasn’t represented accurately, but that we had no way of telling what happened between the time Wemp told Diamond his story and the New Yorker published it. Now, with the Science article, we have a relatively detailed sense of the chain of transmission from Nipa to Wemp to Diamond to the New Yorker to us. Very interesting. Of course it is behind a pay wall, but I’d encourage everyone, if possible, to check it out.