766 - Beyond the Village: multidisciplinary dialogues on sociality in the Guianas

17.07.2012 | 08:00 - 13:30

Convener 1: Duin, Renzo (Leiden University , Leiden, Netherlands / Niederlande)

Current research in the Guianas, and Amazonia at large, is focused on cultural contact and conflicts, interculturality and pluriculturality, cultural discourses and processes, borders and gender, identity and alterity, cultural memory and historicity. Six decades after publication of the Handbook of South American Indians (1948-1950), Amazonian cultures appear more complex than assumed thus far, more heterogeneous, more dynamic, and more socio-politically complex with regional elements of organization. Definitions of culture types of South American Indians in the Handbook followed the approach of cultural ecology as Julian Steward was the editor. Indigenous communities of the Guiana Highlands, residing in small, ephemeral, and alleged autonomous villages, lacking the typical "culture core" characteristics of chiefdoms, are by default classified compliant with what Eduardo Viveiros de Castro coined the "Standard Model of Tropical Forest Cultures." While Peter Rivière in the 1980s aimed at the identification of essential elements and relationships in Guiana social organization, m ore fluid, multifaceted, and contesting models of identity were explored in general anthropological theory aiming to overcome the essentialist definitions as sex, tribe, lineage, and the like. Furthermore, researchers acknowledge the ongoing globalization and how this impacts indigenous culture, today and in the past, and how indigenous cultures have managed to deal with the effects of globalization. No longer relying on traditional site-based approaches alone, a different picture of the indigenous peoples of Guiana emerges. In due process, the sociality of indigenous peoples in the Guiana Highlands appears to be more complex than previously assumed.

Contributions will focus on the Guiana Highlands (i.e., the frontier zones of Brazil, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana where reside mainly indigenous Cariban-speaking people such as Waiwai, Trio, Wayana, and Apalai). With presenters from different backgrounds, different countries of origin, different research schools, and different disciplines, it is aimed to go beyond boundaries in that we cross national and ethnic boundaries. This multidisciplinary and multidimensional symposium is aiming to further a cross-disciplinary cultural dialogue of the Guianas.

Keywords: Guiana, sociality, cross-disciplinary, multi-scalar, relationality

University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575