Amazonians: The Vatican’s Beloved Specimens, Preserved in Amber
It is considered insensitive, even Hobbesian, to use the word “primitive” in speaking of primordial cultures. Encyclopedia Britannica identifies the phrase primitive culture as belonging to “the lexicon of early anthropologists.” Sir Edward Burnett Tylor, father of cultural anthropology, wrote Primitive Cultures in 1871, before the savage horror of World War I shook confidence in civilization.
By mid-twentieth century, Rousseauian daydreams of nonviolent, ecologically wise, egalitarian tribesman had taken hold. The Noble Savage was no longer a myth, but a living victim of industrialized nations. By degrees, a new breed of radical academics — dubbed “barefoot anthropologists” by biologist Paul Gross