Politics & Violence
1. The Yanomamo rules regarding killing differ from Western cultures because the Yanomamo people have no formal laws, there is no set of consequences that are laid out on paper. Unlike western cultures, they have certain customs and general rules about how they should behave. "The Yanomamo have no written language, precise number system, formal laws, or institutionalized adjudicators such as chiefs or judges."(pg.1). Western Cultures have government to help them get justice for the murders of their kin and the Yanomami have to rely on themselves and their kin to get revenge.
2. The process of revenge killings usually starts because of sexual jealousy, wife affairs and the retaliatory killing of a close kinsmen. "..the most common explanation for the initial cause of fighting is 'women'."(pg.2). Conflicts start with shouting matches, chest pounding matches, club fights with axes and shooting with bows and arrows. If these fights lead to killings within the village, the village fissions and then the two new groups begin to raid each other. These raids usually occur if the dispute is not settled between the men. For example, if there was a death of a kin then then revenge will be taken and there will be killings. "It is dangerous to provoke a grieving person no matter what the cause of death of the lost kin..."if my sick mother dies, I will kill some people."(pg.3). This is a part of their justice system and is not considered to be wrong.
3. Revenge killings are dangerous for those who take part but also sometimes more dangerous for those who do not take part or drop out. Unokais are those people that have killed and it is beneficial for them because they have a higher status and more political power over the non-unokais. The men who drop out or do not participate in raiding parties are considered to be cowards and their wives may be stolen from them. The unokais have more wives, more reproductive success and more leadership than non-unokais. The more people they have killed gives them higher status of being dangerous therefore that gives more protection for their kin and village.
4. a. Political structure: The Yanomami have descent groups or "big ones" who are the political leaders of the group and the leader of the largest descent group is called the headman of the whole village. When taking part in raids and killing more than 16 men give them more political power and eventually become the headman. "Political leaders, therefore, usually have, on average, many more kinsmen in the village than do other men of comparable age."(pg.4). Headman have many wives and are very successful in reproduction. Some men have over 40 children and therefore makes their village larger.
b. Social Status/Social Organization: Men that are unokais have a higher social status than those who are non-unokais. It is beneficial to have killed and participate in raids and has positive effects because it helps maintain order and social organization.
c. Kinship: The unokais' kin is more protected because they are feared by other Yanomami. The kinship of the non-unokais are not feared by others groups because they are portrayed as cowards. Also, the Yanomami practiced a patrilineal descent because they believe that the women are subordinate to men but they also do not ignore their matrilineal descent because cousins marry each other.
d. Marriage and Reproduction: Men that have killed or become unokais have a higher marriage and reproduction rate because they have more power and are more attractive to the women. The headman has the most wives and most children, some have had up to 11 wives and dozens of children.
5. Killing other people are generally thought to be bad but we need laws against it because it helps to maintain order. Sometimes people kill because it is self-defense or because they are in a war to protect and serve their country and kin. Also killing might be a way of survival of the fittest. "..and many of life's resources are finite, conflicts of interest between individuals are inevitable because the nature of some of life's resources ensure that individuals can achieve certain goals only at the expense of other individuals."(pg.1). We should have laws against killing other people because it gives order to a society and helps some people to feel protected and to those who need to kill in order of self defense can without being punished.