The Amazon Indian is an icon that straddles the world between the professional anthropologist and the popular media. Presented alternately as the noble primitive, the savior of the environment, and as a savage, dissolute, cannibalistic half-human, it is an image well worth examining. Stephen Nugent does just that, critiquing the claims of authoritativeness inherent in visual images presented by anthropologists of Amazon life in the early 20th century and comparing them with the images found in popular books, movies, and posters. The book depicts the field of anthropology as its own form of culture industry and contrasts it to other similar industries, past and present. For visual anthropologists, ethnographers, Amazon specialists, and popular culture researchers, Nugent's book will be enlightening, entertaining reading.
Stephen Nugent is professor of anthropology and director of the Centre for Visual Anthropology at the Goldsmith's College, University of London. He has done fieldwork in Brazil since the 1970s. He is author of five books on the Amazon, elite culture, and cultural studies and a member of the Critique of Anthropology editorial collective.