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6216 - On self-representation in Yanomami (ritual) dialogue

Based on data from ritual and colloquial speech collected in the hinterlands of the Upper Orinoco during the 1980s and 1990s, this paper shows how Yanomami represent themselves towards visitors in different dialogic situations. The classic forms of ritual dialogue conducted by men in visiting situations are himou and wayamou. In colloquial talks (wawayou), individuals from different local groups discuss geographical, historical and mythological issues and events as well as incidents in the spiritual world. A central feature of these ritual talks is presenting oneself and one`s own local group vis-à-vis the other group, whether visitors or hosts. We specifically look at the self-representation of the orators as being Yanomami - dwellers of a certain geo-social space or as owners of spiritual knowledge and power. Also, the image of the non-Indians (napë) given in these conversations and the transitional identity (as becoming napë) of Yanomami living near the river are examined. The analyses of these more historic texts will be expanded with new findings on the status of the ritual dialogues in times and places of high socio-political change along the Orinoco river like Ocamo, Mavaca or El Platanal. This part investigates how “cultural brokers” - bilingual health agents and teachers - still value and/or practice traditional rhetorical forms and which oratory abilities they find most useful in communicating issues from the napë (non-indigenous) world within traditional, Yanomami mother tongue encounters.

Keywords: Yanomami, culture change, rethorics, representation

Author: Herzog-Schröder, Gabriele (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München, Germany, Germany / Deutschland)

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