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Review: The Rise of Amazonia
Author(s): Donald Pollock
Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 98, No. 1 (Mar., ...
BOOKREVIEWESSAYS 157BOOKREVIEWESSAYS 157
based on the sibling group. Folktales of Spanish origintold
by Nahuat men in the ...
158 AMERICANANTHROPOLOGIST* VOL.98, NO. 1 MARCH1996
in lowland South America-progressive loss of depen-
dence on domestica...
BOOKREVIEWESSAYS 159
generalizability of the detailed data collected by Descola
but also in the comparative possibilities ...
160 AMERICANANTHROPOLOGIST* VOL.98, NO. 1 * MARCH1996
These examples of cross-subfield hybridization,how-
ever excellent i...
BOOKREVIEWESSAYS 161
terminologies found so often in Amazonia linked to cog-
natic kinship systems offer communities an im...
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  1. 1. Review: The Rise of Amazonia Author(s): Donald Pollock Source: American Anthropologist, New Series, Vol. 98, No. 1 (Mar., 1996), pp. 157-161 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of the American Anthropological Association Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/682964 . Accessed: 26/04/2011 22:06 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at . http://www.jstor.org/page/info/about/policies/terms.jsp. JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and you may use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use. Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at . http://www.jstor.org/action/showPublisher?publisherCode=black. . Each copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printed page of such transmission. JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact support@jstor.org. Blackwell Publishing and American Anthropological Association are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to American Anthropologist. http://www.jstor.org
  2. 2. BOOKREVIEWESSAYS 157BOOKREVIEWESSAYS 157 based on the sibling group. Folktales of Spanish origintold by Nahuat men in the northern Sierra de Puebla express agreat deal of respect forthe procreative power of women and accord women more reproductive autonomy than the cognate stories told in Spain. The Nahuat definitely support Kellogg's argument that the position of women matters. Mythsin the northern based on the sibling group. Folktales of Spanish origintold by Nahuat men in the northern Sierra de Puebla express agreat deal of respect forthe procreative power of women and accord women more reproductive autonomy than the cognate stories told in Spain. The Nahuat definitely support Kellogg's argument that the position of women matters. Mythsin the northern Sierra de Puebla represent women with more positive images when women inherit more land and presumably have more autonomy from their husbands. On balance, these books contribute provocative and important in- sights into the Native Mexican experience under Spanish colonial rule. B Sierra de Puebla represent women with more positive images when women inherit more land and presumably have more autonomy from their husbands. On balance, these books contribute provocative and important in- sights into the Native Mexican experience under Spanish colonial rule. B DONALDPOLLOCK State University of New Yorkat Buffalo Footprints of theForest: Ka'aporEthnobotany-the His- torical Ecology of Plant Utilization by an Amazonian People. William Balee. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. 396 pp. In the Society of Nature: A Native Ecology in Amazonia. Philippe Descola. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 372 pp. Amazonian Indians: From Prehistory to the Present. Anna Roosevelt, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994.420 pp. "Laremontee de l'Amazone:anthropologie et histoire des societes amazoniennes." L'Homme 33, nos. 126-128 (April-December 1993). 600 pp. How Real People Ought to Live: The Cashinahua of Eastern Peru. Kenneth Kensinger. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press 1995. 305 pp. Twenty years ago Patricia Lyon referred to South America as "the least known continent" in the subtitle of her 1974readerNative South America, aphrase thatJean Jackson echoed a year later in a review essay treating Amazonian ethnography. There is little doubt that Lyon's and Jackson's judgment was valid, though the reasons that South America, and in particular lowland South America, would be little known in the mid-1970s are com- plex. The qualityof anthropological work done in lowland South America was probably less to blame than the quan- tity, and the quantitywas probably limited in the first half of the 20th century by the fact that, with only a couple of exceptions, South American countries had not been colo- nized by those societies that led in the production of anthropology. Whatever the reasons for South America's ethno- graphic status in 1974, the work of the past 20 years has done much to bring the continent to the attention of the discipline. By now there are few anthropological debates to which indigenous lowland South America has not made an important contribution, and there are several- DONALDPOLLOCK State University of New Yorkat Buffalo Footprints of theForest: Ka'aporEthnobotany-the His- torical Ecology of Plant Utilization by an Amazonian People. William Balee. New York: Columbia University Press, 1994. 396 pp. In the Society of Nature: A Native Ecology in Amazonia. Philippe Descola. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994. 372 pp. Amazonian Indians: From Prehistory to the Present. Anna Roosevelt, ed. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 1994.420 pp. "Laremontee de l'Amazone:anthropologie et histoire des societes amazoniennes." L'Homme 33, nos. 126-128 (April-December 1993). 600 pp. How Real People Ought to Live: The Cashinahua of Eastern Peru. Kenneth Kensinger. Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland Press 1995. 305 pp. Twenty years ago Patricia Lyon referred to South America as "the least known continent" in the subtitle of her 1974readerNative South America, aphrase thatJean Jackson echoed a year later in a review essay treating Amazonian ethnography. There is little doubt that Lyon's and Jackson's judgment was valid, though the reasons that South America, and in particular lowland South America, would be little known in the mid-1970s are com- plex. The qualityof anthropological work done in lowland South America was probably less to blame than the quan- tity, and the quantitywas probably limited in the first half of the 20th century by the fact that, with only a couple of exceptions, South American countries had not been colo- nized by those societies that led in the production of anthropology. Whatever the reasons for South America's ethno- graphic status in 1974, the work of the past 20 years has done much to bring the continent to the attention of the discipline. By now there are few anthropological debates to which indigenous lowland South America has not made an important contribution, and there are several- cultural ecology, ethnogenesis, environmentalism and in- digenous rights, myth, and history-in which lowland South America serves as a primary locus of debate. As Peter Riviere notes in one of the volumes reviewed here, with the possible exception of New Guinea, anthropologi- cal work in lowland South America in the past two dec- ades is among the most interesting and innovative to have appeared (L'Homme, p. 507). Each of thevolumes consid- ered in this review supports Riviere's contention. Amazonia has been the site of some of the most important work in cultural ecology, and two excellent contributions to Amazonian ethnoecology have been pub- lished by major figures in this area. WilliamBalee's Foot- prints of the Forest explores Ka'apor ethnobotany, and Philippe Descola's In the Society of Nature offers an innovative analysis of Achuar ethnoecology. Both are im- portant studies that will serve as key reference points for future debates on Amazonian cultural ecology. Balee's study of Ka'apor ethnobotany is surely the most detailed and thorough analysis ever produced of indigenous plants andplant use inAmazonia. The Ka'apor, also known in the ethnographic literature as the Urubu, are a Tupi-speakinggroup with a population of about 520, living in a dozen villages in the Brazilian state of Maran- hao. Balee's work among the Ka'aporhas been extensive, including several years of fieldwork with this group alone, and is supplemented by ethnobotanical research among other Tupi-Guaranigroups such as the Arawete, Assurini, Guaji, and Tembe. His book offers a useful overview of Ka'aporethnography, extraordinarily detailed analyses of Ka'aporethnobotany, and a stimulating series of insights, hypotheses, and conclusions about indigenous use of Amazonian environments. Balee presents his study as a "historical ecology" of Ka'aporplantuse, andthis ecological version of the recent rediscovery of history in anthropology is put to good use. Balee's perspective skillfully integrates historical and eth- nohistorical data with his contemporary research, yield- ing a finely nuanced view of Ka'apor ethnoecology and neatly meshed comparisons with a number of other Ama- zonian groups. This historical perspective allows Balee to propose, for example, a model of"agriculturalregression" cultural ecology, ethnogenesis, environmentalism and in- digenous rights, myth, and history-in which lowland South America serves as a primary locus of debate. As Peter Riviere notes in one of the volumes reviewed here, with the possible exception of New Guinea, anthropologi- cal work in lowland South America in the past two dec- ades is among the most interesting and innovative to have appeared (L'Homme, p. 507). Each of thevolumes consid- ered in this review supports Riviere's contention. Amazonia has been the site of some of the most important work in cultural ecology, and two excellent contributions to Amazonian ethnoecology have been pub- lished by major figures in this area. WilliamBalee's Foot- prints of the Forest explores Ka'apor ethnobotany, and Philippe Descola's In the Society of Nature offers an innovative analysis of Achuar ethnoecology. Both are im- portant studies that will serve as key reference points for future debates on Amazonian cultural ecology. Balee's study of Ka'apor ethnobotany is surely the most detailed and thorough analysis ever produced of indigenous plants andplant use inAmazonia. The Ka'apor, also known in the ethnographic literature as the Urubu, are a Tupi-speakinggroup with a population of about 520, living in a dozen villages in the Brazilian state of Maran- hao. Balee's work among the Ka'aporhas been extensive, including several years of fieldwork with this group alone, and is supplemented by ethnobotanical research among other Tupi-Guaranigroups such as the Arawete, Assurini, Guaji, and Tembe. His book offers a useful overview of Ka'aporethnography, extraordinarily detailed analyses of Ka'aporethnobotany, and a stimulating series of insights, hypotheses, and conclusions about indigenous use of Amazonian environments. Balee presents his study as a "historical ecology" of Ka'aporplantuse, andthis ecological version of the recent rediscovery of history in anthropology is put to good use. Balee's perspective skillfully integrates historical and eth- nohistorical data with his contemporary research, yield- ing a finely nuanced view of Ka'apor ethnoecology and neatly meshed comparisons with a number of other Ama- zonian groups. This historical perspective allows Balee to propose, for example, a model of"agriculturalregression" TheRiseofAmazoniaTheRiseofAmazonia
  3. 3. 158 AMERICANANTHROPOLOGIST* VOL.98, NO. 1 MARCH1996 in lowland South America-progressive loss of depen- dence on domesticated plants and increasing dependence on foraging and semidomesticates. One important value in such a concept is the link it creates between archae- ological evidence of large-scale horticulturalchiefdoms in pre-Columbian lowland South America and the current complex mix of subsistence patterns in Amazonia. More- over, Balee's historical reconstruction of agricultural re- gression shifts attention away from a kind of categorical classification of subsistence "types"to a dimensional view that allows him to locate societies such as nomadic fora- gers,the trekking Ge, and intensive horticulturalists along a continuum of historical-ecological adaptations. This framework also allows Balee to develop an insightful comparison between the Guaja and the Ka'apor;differ- ences in the subsistence systems of these linguistically related groups, living in similar ecological regions of east- ern Amazonia, are traced through historical ecology and the agricultural regression of the Guaja. Asecond majorcontribution of this impressive study is its relevance to the question of indigenous manipulation of the environment in Amazonia. Balee has already estab- lished himself as one of the major ethnographers and theoreticians of the view that indigenous Amazonians have not simply and passively adapted themselves to lowland South America's ecological regions but have ac- tively managed the biological resources of many areas. ButBalee's view of Ka'aporresource management differs from Posey's well-known and controversial claims re- gardingthe Kayapo,who, Posey has suggested, intention- ally plant "forest islands" of fruit trees and other useful plants for the benefit of future generations. The Ka'apor, Balee argues, "manage"resources in the sense that their traditional use patterns enhance the biodiversity of a region, but they do not do so with the intention of bene- fiting future Ka'apor. Here again Balee documents Ka'aporresource management with detailed data on spe- cies diversity and ecological change, and even historical linguistic evidence. Balee's study is supplemented with over 100pages of appendixes, listing, for example, the ecological impor- tance values of fallow species (some 360 species) and high-forest species (341 species), and several catalogues of plants known to the Ka'apor,organized by activity/use as well as categorical structure. "Footprintsof the forest" is the rather modest phrase Ka'apor use to designate themselves, a small trace in a complex ecological setting. Balee's impressive study reveals the insight of that self- image, but in a manner that ensures that their mark on Amazonian studies will be deeper and more permanent. Descola's In the Society of Nature cuts a different path through the dense thicket of Amazonian ecology, but one that is equally impressive. Descola's study of Achuar ethnoecology was originally published in French in 1986, and one suspects from its large absence in book reviews inthe late 1980sthat the English version was delayed less bythe sheer demands of translation than by the difficulty of assessing a book that tries so creatively to bridge the gulf between traditionally competing ecological and cul- turalparadigms. Descola poses the theoretical task of his book injust these terms: to reconcile the Durkheimian "rationalist tradition"that conceives of "nature"as asocialized human product, and the "materialistempiricism"that conceives of "society"as a naturalized organic product. The debate between these two perspectives is, of course, well known and has produced thoughtful conceptual positions, such as Sahlins's Culture and Practical Reason (University of Chicago Press, 1976) as well as the entertaining give-and- take of arguments over pigs and sacred cows. However, as Bruno Latour has argued recently in We Have Never Been Modern(HarvardUniversity Press, 1993),the debate maybe fundamentallyunresolvable within the framework of modernism, which is characterized in large part as the constant availability of the paradoxical tension between these two views, both valid, yet incommensurable. La- tour's effort to resolve this dilemma introduces the non- modernist proposal that the "cultural"or social is always also "natural"andvice versa, andhe appeals to anthropol- ogy as the discipline that is most accustomed to working with cultures which themselves make no such modernist bifurcations. Descola anticipates exactly this shift in per- spective (the 1986 French edition is, by the way, cited extensively by Latour), and if he acknowledges the diffi- culties in achieving a perfect rapprochement between views that have appeared incompatible since Boyle and Hobbes, he nonetheless reveals some of the vistas that such a perspective can open. In ethnographic terms, Descola's study treats the Achuar, a Jivaroan group of roughly 5,000 individuals living in villages inthe region of the Pastaza and Bobonaza Rivers on the frontierbetween Ecuador andPeru. Descola worked among the Ecuadorian Achua for nearly three years between 1976and 1979,visiting some 100houses in a study that is notable for both its breadth and depth. Descola's analytic strategy begins with a detailed discussion of soils, hydrology, and meteorology of the Ecuadorian Achuar ecosystem, and of the composition and trophic structure of the forests in the region, through which he distinguishes two primary zones of ethnoeco- logical adaptation: a rivefine habitat and an interfluvial habitat. This distinction is familiarin Amazonia;Descola's contribution is to expand the discussion beyond the dif- ferential horticultural productivity of the two zones to a more comprehensive analysis of the broader natural re- source availability of these habitats. This is an important issue in Amazonian ecology, where debates over the avail- ability of protein, for example, have often been pursued in the absence of reliable data from representative re- gions. The value of the Achuar case lies not only in the
  4. 4. BOOKREVIEWESSAYS 159 generalizability of the detailed data collected by Descola but also in the comparative possibilities presented by Achuar communities exploiting different habitats. Per- haps the most intriguingquestion it poses, given the pres- ence of an implicitly rational decision-maker at the center of many cultural ecological models of indigenous Ama- zonian resource use, is why so manyAchuar opt not to live in the riverine region they themselves acknowledge is the richer in resources. And, it should also be noted, Ross's earlier work with the PeruvianAchuarprovided one of the most widely cited cases for the strictly ecological adapta- tionist interpretation of Amazonian food choices and hunting strategy, an interpretation that Descola rejects. Pursuingthis andother questions leads Descola to an extensive analysis of Achuar ethnoecology, including the classification of fauna and flora, which he places in the context of Achuar practical engagement of the world in three zones: the domestic household, the garden, and the forest. "Nature,"as Descola reminds us, is not present simply in the knowledge Achuar produce of it (p. 93); the Achuar do not consider themselves separate from "na- ture" or from their practical engagement of the world. Moreover, Descola's account of Achuar ethnoecology weaves together myth, social organization, cosmology, ethology, and history-even ethnolinguistics-in orderto transcend the usual conceptual divide between culture and nature. Indeed, Descola prefers the term "domestic nature" to "culture"to capture the Achuar view of the socialization of natureand the naturalization of the social. Apart from its theoretical sophistication, Descola's "nativeecology" is valuable for the detailed information it presents on horticultural and hunting productivity, pro- tein consumption and diet in general, garden size and composition, and work. Descola segments these data through an intersecting series of contrast variables, in- cluding riverine versus interfluvial zones, male versus female, and garden versus forest. His data allow him to test several key hypotheses that have been debated in the literature on Amazonian cultural ecology, from Roosevelt's model of the role of maize in the development of large-scale riverine populations to optimal foraging theory predictions of hunting behavior. Throughout, Descola documents the importance of Achuar cultural beliefs and values inshaping resource use, but in amanner that rejects materialist models not as incorrect so much as incomplete. Thus, Descola suggests, the simplest answer to the question posed at the outset of his study-Why are the Achuar not exclusively riverine, given the productive ad- vantages of the riverine zone?--is that the interfluvial zone easily meets the minimal demands of communities. Achuar strategies of adaptation, once they satisfy these minimal demands, must be pursued further through a variety of cultural factors that are complementary to ratherthan incommensurable with materialfactors. In the Society of Nature will be read as an effort to achieve the kind of theoretical and methodological synthesis that AnnaRoosevelt calls for in the introduction to the collec- tion Amazonian Indians: From Prehistory to the Pres- ent. Amazonian Indians incorporates 17 papers origi- nally presented at a 1989 Wenner-Gren symposium de- signed to explore a "strategy for a new synthesis," as Roosevelt terms it in her opening chapter. The goal is fundamentally worthy. The anthropology of Amazonia certainly suffers from that form of theoretical multiple- personality disorder that can be found in the literature of any ethnographic region, and certainly the most compre- hensive account of humanpopulations thathave occupied a region for thousands of years would treat the archaeol- ogy, paleoanthropology, and physical, ecological, cul- tural, linguistic, and historical aspects of those groups. Butto call such aperspective a "newsynthesis"is mislead- ing in at least two regards. First, this kind of eclectic, multifield approach is hardlynew, andRoosevelt's master image of this anthropology recalls a much earlier era in our discipline. Whatis new, perhaps, is not the "synthesis" but the modem techniques through which very special- ized research is pursued. Second, Roosevelt writes as though the historical multiplication of subfields in anthro- pology has resulted from simple processes of specializa- tion, as though there remains an overarching paradigm under which diverse, contesting forms of cultural anthro- pology can be reconciled and, even more remarkably, blended smoothly with the reconciled forms of physical anthropology and archaeology. Readers may be less san- guine about the prospects of achieving such a rapproche- ment. Ironically, but perhaps not surprisingly, none of the chapters in this collection exemplifies such a synthesis, though many are outstanding examples of Amazonian research and analysis. (Even Descola's chapter, "Jivaro Homeostasis as a Cultural System," argues for a cultural account of labor duration.) Some chapters do offer a kind of hybrid anthropology, mixing a couple of traditionally distinct subfields. Neil Whitehead's chapter, "TheAncient Amerindian Polities of the Amazon, the Orinoco, and the Atlantic Coast,"is a good example, drawing upon White- head's multiple expertise in archaeology, ethnoarchaeol- ogy, and the use of historical sources. As he notes, even well-intentioned efforts to use archaeological and histori- cal data are often limited when anthropologists fail to apply explicit, consistent methodologies and modem paradigms of historical explanation. Similarly,Balee and Denny Moore contribute a chapter that skillfully links linguistic data and ethnoecology in an analysis of Tupi- Guaraniplant names. Their chapter is all the more signifi- cant for incorporating a historical dimension that consid- ers linguistic and cultural change as well.
  5. 5. 160 AMERICANANTHROPOLOGIST* VOL.98, NO. 1 * MARCH1996 These examples of cross-subfield hybridization,how- ever excellent in their own right,should not be mistaken fora genuine synthesis, however. For example, no chapter takes up the more dauntingproblem that Descola tackled in his monograph, of reconciling a symbolic-interpretive perspective with a materialist-ecological framework. In- deed, the volume includes virtually none of the anthro- pologists usually associated with symbolic-interpretive- structuralist approaches to Amazonian cultures and so to some extent succeeds throughaselection bias eliminating the one theoretical subfield that has proved most difficult to reconcile with the materialist and "positivist"anthro- pologies that underlie many of these chapters. (Jonathan Hill'spaper from the 1989 conference was unexpectedly excluded from the volume, and readers familiar with the theoretical landscape of Amazonian studies may wonder if his contribution would have been a reminder of the theoretical divide still separating major components of any would-be synthesis.) But it is unfair to the contributors to this otherwise excellent volume to suggest thatit falls short of its editor's expectations. As a collection, it offers a useful overview of a number of significant areas of Amazonian anthropol- ogy. WarrenHern's chapter, "Healthand Demography of Native Amazonians," brings together major work on in- digenous health status and, considering the nearly unpar- alleled impact disease has had on Amazonian populations over 500 years, Hern's chapter offers an excellent sum- mary of this ongoing threat to survival and cultural integ- rity.Darna Dufour's chapter, "Dietand Nutritional Status of Amazonian Peoples," similarly provides a useful, com- parative summary of data on a dozen indigenous groups. Stephen Beckerman insightfully reviews debates on pre- contact population size and distribution through an analy- sis of data on huntingandfishing thatposes the fundamen- tal question of what such data can actually reveal. And Harriet Klein reviews the large body of data on language distribution and relatedness in Amazonia (oddly enough included in a section of the book entitled "Strategies for Integrative Research"). Several chapters offer good statements of ongoing work that will be familiar to many readers, including Michael Brown's chapter on utopian renewal movements in Amazonia and Jean Jackson's chapter on emerging "Indian"identity and ethnicity in Colombia. Adelia En- gracia de Oliveira's chapter on indigenous deculturation and destabilization in Brazil is also an excellent addition to an important research agenda that she has been pursu- ing for over a decade. Overall,the volume offers a useful overview of several importantareas of currentAmazonian anthropology and is one that I will use in my course on indigenous lowland SouthAmerica ifit becomes available in a less expensive edition. It must be said, finally, that in a volume that surveys contemporary anthropological work in Amazonia and at- tempts to forge a "newsynthesis" of theory and method- ology,it is surprisingto find only a single European-based contributor (Descola; Darrell Posey hardly counts and wasnot at Oxfordwhen the original conference was held), and only a few South American contributors. Editor Roosevelt, who convened the originalconference, had the privilege of selecting participants and contributors, of course, andsecond-guessing her choices ill suits a review. Butone is left with the impression that while she believes herself to be casting a wide theoretical net, she is doing so in only one branch of the stream. Consequently, a welcome complement to Ama- zonian Indians is the special issue ofL'Homme entitled "Laremontee de l'Amazone." The strategy introducing Roosevelt's volume is the use of a variety of theoretical and methodological tools to understand the populations of a region, while the latter collection, organized by Descola and Anne Christine Taylor, more often uses the populations of a region to pursue new theoretical insights andmethodological tools. And while Roosevelt's volume isstrong on culturalecology, Descola andTaylor'svolume offers notable essays that treat aspects of Amazonian cultures from symbolic-interpretive perspectives and sev- eralthat deal with social organization, kinship, and mar- riage.Together they provide a more comprehensive over- view of current Amazonian anthropology. "Laremontee de l'Amazone"opens with several arti- cles that survey the major ethnographic features of lan- guage-culturalgroups: France-MarieRenard-Casevitzde- scribes the sub-Andean Arawak; Philippe Erikson argues for linguistic and cultural continuity among the various Panoan groups of western Amazonia;PatrickMenget dis- cusses the emerging uniform political system among groups in the upper Xingu; Manuela Carneiro da Cunha surveys recent work on the Ge-speaking groups, as does Stephen Hugh-Jones for the Northwest Amazonian Tukanoans. While these are useful summaries by major authorities, the reliance on linguistic criteriafor selecting reference groups in all but Menget's article tends to rein- force the kind of language-culture identification that, Greg Urban recently noted, anthropologists since Boas have been trying to deconstruct. To separate sub-Andean Arawakans and Panoans, for example, glosses over nu- merous social and cultural similarities among Arawakan andPanoan groups in western Amazonia, similarities that may prove just as interesting as the similarities one al- ready expects of linguistically close groups. Likewise, the very sophisticated and intensive comparative work done with the Ge groups tends to background the fact that non-Ge Central Brazilian societies such as the Tapirape and the Karaja appear to have acquired many Ge-like features of social organization. A major strength of this volume is its second section of articles surveying social organizational problems and issues. Simone Dreyfus argues that the Dravidian kin
  6. 6. BOOKREVIEWESSAYS 161 terminologies found so often in Amazonia linked to cog- natic kinship systems offer communities an important source of political flexibility. Eduardo Viveiros de Castro devotes a very sophisticated discussion to the problem of building a general model of kinship in Amazonia, recon- ciling the two major forms: Dravidian systems among tropical forest groups and Crow-Omaha systems among central Brazilian Ge. Descola's article on marriage and warfare among Jivaroan groups is a nice addition to his book reviewed here, which does not discuss warfare or feuding in much depth. Descola may not have intended his title to be a subtle allusion to Weber-"Les affnites selec- tives"-but as in the book reviewed here, he offers what is in many regards a nicely Weberian synthesis. Also no- table is Peter Riviere's survey of research on social organi- zation, especially descent and affinity, and the "Amerindi- anization" of these concepts as Amazon anthropology influences more general theoretical work. Perhaps the strongest section of this collection is "Histoire, histoires," reflecting the ability of a historical perspective to open new insights into cultures and regions once treated as ahistorical and "cold."Amongthe notable contributions to this section is Roosevelt's excellent sur- vey of the archaeological evidence for more complex developmental sequences for prehistoric Amazonian so- cieties than have traditionally been assumed, a point that Neil Whitehead also makes with regard to indigenous history from 1500 to 1900. As in his contribution to Roosevelt's edited volume Amazonian Indians, White- head here points againto the methodological problems of using historical records and materials and to the concep- tual pitfalls of uncritical historiography. Michael Brown takes upthe problem of leadership andauthorityinindige- nous communities that can no longer be seen as isolated and stable but which draw self-consciously upon global sources of legitimacy and power; Bruce Albert considers also how Yanomamileaders resist the imposition of global rhetorics and symbols. Ellen Basso offers a particularly fascinating example of Kalapalo indigenous history through an analysis of a narrative about Colonel Fawcett, who disappeared inthe UpperXinguin 1927.Basso's work overthe past decade has been largelydevoted to exploring the potential of narrative and discourse analysis and eth- nohistory among the Kalapalo,and this briefand interest- ing article should lead readers to her major work, which is having a marked impact on Amazonian studies. The penultimate section of this collection treats what might be called sensible symbols: music, ritual, myth. Notable here is Anne Christine Taylor's consideration of two Achuar narratives, which she uses to explore Achuar conceptions of truth,belief, consciousness, and "thereal." This rather neat article is a brief but detailed example of a kind of ethnoepistemology that is possible only through a very profound knowledge of Achuar culture. The volume ends with several articles surveying and summarizing work in majoraspects of Amazonian anthro- pology: Neil Whiteheadtreats recent research on history; Riviere's article on descent and affinity is found in this section; Irene Bellier reviews work on sexual divisions of labor, politics, and cosmology, as "social facts" in Ama- zonia; andJean-MichelBeaudet surveys ethnomusicology in a useful article treating a subject that often presents itself insistently in research, but which many of us are poorly equipped to pursue at any level of sophistication. Finally, since I have commented on Roosevelt's selection of contributors to her volume, it should be said that "La remontee de r'Amazone" offers a better sampling of French and English anthropologists, butjust as few South American contributors. Kenneth Kensinger's work among the Cashinahua of eastern Peru is legendary among Amazonia specialists. Kensinger began as a missionary with the Summer Insti- tute of Linguistics and ended up as afirst-rate anthropolo- gist who draws upon nearly eight years of fieldwork con- ducted over aperiod of some 40years inhis writings about this Panoan group. How Real People Ought To Live is a collection of his best articles and papers over the past decade or so, many of them previously unpublished con- ference papers. The title refers to the Cashinahua term huni kuin, an autodenomination that distinguishes them as the "realpeople." How Real People Ought To Live covers a number of critical aspects of Cashinahua social and cultural life, including detailed analyses of marriage, siblingship, and kinship, as well as majorfeatures of Cashinahua religion. Muchof Kensinger'swork explores Cashinahuasexuality, a subject that he renders as fascinating for the reader as it is, apparently, for the Cashinahua. Kensinger's writing is marked by an enviable depth of ethnographic detail, a style and focus that he occasionally contrasts to more explicitly 'theoretical' genres of work. Yet How Real Peo- ple Ought ToLive addresses, directly orindirectly, numer- ous theoretical issues as well as debates of more local, Amazonian focus, with skill and insight that its modest author would probably deny. Kensinger returned to the CuranjaRiver in 1993, 25 years after his last visit to the Cashinahua, and his final chapter in this book is a discussion of changes and stabili- ties in the village of Baltaovernearly40years. The chapter is valuable for thediachronic depth that Kensingerbrings to his discussion of social and cultural change but it is also a moving account of his reacquaintance with a community that has occupied his entire professional life. How Real People Ought ToLive is a delight to read and should be as successful with a specialist audience as it will be with students. -
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