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Open Access Publications from the University of California

World Cultures eJournal

UC Irvine

Darkness in Academia: Cultural Models of How Anthropologists and Journalists Write About Controversy


The aim of this paper is to systematically explore a large collection of documents pertaining to the allegations made in Patrick Tierney’s Darkness in El Dorado: How Scientists and Journalists Devastated the Amazon (2002) for lexical patterns that indicate how key terms were used to analyze and report the allegations, thus forming cultural models of the Darkness in El Dorado controversy. The purpose of this paper is not an analysis of the validity of the allegations in Tierney’s book or to take sides with any of the stakeholders in the controversy. Rather, by conducting a systematic analysis of terms used to write about the controversy, the variation in the cultural models of various actors (e.g., journalists and anthropologists) is described and compared.

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