June 22, 2015

Alexandre Magnan
Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations
Sciences Pa,

Dear Alexandre Magnan:
I am sorry about the impending fate of the reticulated atoll Mataiva, likely to be ravaged for its phosphate riches as described in Phosphate Mining Risks Atoll Culture NATURE vol.. 522 no. 7555 June 11, 2015 page 156.  Earlier success by the locals in staving off the assault on their land and culture now appear to be at risk as the elders fall silent and the young people move away.  Before they go (or soon thereafter) they would be advised to read the 19th chapter starting page 350 by the renowned anthropologist Prof. Robin Fox in Handbook on Evolution and Society eds. Jonathan H. Turner, Richard Machalek and Alexandra Maryanski, Published this year by Paradigm Books, Boulder and London. 

The title of the chapter “Marry in or Die Out” basically makes the point.  If you break up a tight little culture and scatter the people, they will cease to engage in their ancestral mating pattern and the result, after a few generations, will be extinction.  I highly recommend it.  Fox is a formidable intellect.  He makes few demands on the readers prior knowledge but great demands on their powers of reasoning.  In fact I guess it would be better for you to read the chapter and then explain the bottom line to the  people for whom it still might mean life or death. 

If you cannot find the book in a library, do let me know.  I’m sure you will, at all events, find it fascinating.  For my own poor attempt to get at some of the issue, (Fox has seen farther than I) here is a link:

Thank you.


M. Linton Herbert MD

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