An Amazonian Myth and Its History (Oxford Studies in Social by Peter Gow

By Peter Gow

Uniting the ethnographic info gathered through the fieldwork equipment invented by means of Malinowski with Levi-Strauss's analyses of the kin among fantasy and time, this booklet analyzes a century of social transformation of the indigenous Piro humans of Peruvian Amazonia. it's a huge contribution to anthropological debates at the nature of historical past and social swap, in addition to on overlooked components reminiscent of fable, visible paintings, and the methodological matters fascinated about fieldwork and archival facts.

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Example text

His slaves dependeel on him beca use, as they anel their descendants tolel me in the 1980s, they were ignorant: they could not speak Spanish anel they were afraiel of other white people. 16 Vargas, who spoke Piro anel Campa, was their white man, anel ali contacls with other white people went through him. Vargas elied in 1940, just as the regiol1 was about to experience a major change. First, the price of rubber shot up again, colIapsed again, anel was followed by a I'apiel anel continueel increase in the price of tropical hardwooels.

And this is not a new problem, for Malinowski once wrote that myths 'must be lifted from their flat exÍstence on paper, anel placed in the three-dimensional reality of bUlife' (1948: 122). Whatever we might do, myths tend to end IIp looking tht when written down on paper, having been stripped of most of what made their original tellings so interesting. 'That is all there 15 to thi8 story': Artemio's laconic sign-off was typical of events of Piro myth telling. No moral was maele, and no wider conclusion was drawn.

Th15 arid philosophy had claimed yet another victim, and at my own hands. While I was lost to such sclf--recrimination, we were joined by Julian, our mutual Campa compadre, who had been attracted by the sound of our voices in the growing moonlig'ht. People on the Eajo Urubamba enjoy moonlit evenings, anel often take advantage of them to go visiting. ' (Piro, kamalampi) 1S lhe hallucinogenic drug most commonly taken, at this time of the night, by local shamans when they are curing, and Julian was the apprentice of Artcmio's father, Don Mauricio, a shaman of some repute.

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