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10699 - Collective Administration of Social Age Amongst Gê Speakers

Among Gê speaking Xikrin-Kayapo and Canela of Central Brazil there is collective consultation within formal bodies of males organized according to age with daily regularity. Yet there is no collective property. This paper asks why what seems to be collective governance might exist with no resources to distribute. The nexus between collective decision making about ritual and individual and household decision making about property and production is investigated. Collective deliberation orients relations and activities, while the accumulation and distribution of all resources, with the exception of access to land, is organized by individuals and families. I offer the hypothesis that the key to understanding the relation between wealth accumulation, circulation, and prestige among Gê-speakers is to focus on the control of time through the collective control of social age, most definitively through ritual. The age cohort becomes the axis on which differences in worth are registered collectively and the subsequent accumulation of wealth by individuals within a cohort is a validation of the distinctions conferred in ritual.

Keywords: public wealth, ritual, indigenous peoples, tropical America, Canela

Author: Fisher, William (College of William and Mary, Ud States of Am / USA)

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