810 - Images of Public Wealth: Property, Identity, and Well-being in Native Tropical America

18.07.2012 | 08:00 - 13:30
18.07.2012 | 17:30 - 19:30

Coordenator 1: Santos-Granero, Fernando (Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute , Miami, Ud States of Am / USA)

N otions of ‘ownership’ and ‘property’ in native tropical American societies have received little attention from specialists and are long overdue for examination. This session aims at exploring a particular kind of property: community property or ‘public wealth.’ Although this notion would seem to be out of place in the non-state, highly individualistic, and generally object-poor societies of native tropical America, there is evidence that at least in some of them ritual paraphernalia, skillful specialists, and sacred sites have been viewed as important components of public wealth. The same can be said of some of the objects –trucks, boats, personal documents and land titles– that have started to circulate in contemporary indigenous societies as a result of greater engagement in market activities, government programs, and non-governmental projects. Often considered to be collective assets –though not necessarily collective property– such objects, peoples, and places play a central role in shaping the identities and ensuring the reproduction and well-being of local collectivities.

Participants are encouraged to explore five important connections: Firstly, the connection between public wealth and indigenous notions of ownership, property and inheritance. Is public wealth synonymous with collective property? Can items of personal property be considered to be part of collective wealth? Can public wealth be considered as a form of collective, inalienable ‘patrimony’? Secondly, the connection between public wealth and social and symbolic production. Is public wealth internally generated through long-term convivial relations between like people, or is it an external creation derived from predatory relations with radically different Others? Is it an embodied aspect of a community’s self, or an instance of incorporation of foreign substances and artifacts? Thirdly, the connection between public wealth and personhood. What is the role of public wealth in the construction of persons and, thus, in the reproduction of local collectivities? Are items of public wealth ‘figurations’ of collective subjectivities, or ‘materializations’ of collective capacities? How does public wealth shape personal and collective identities? Fourthly, the connection between public wealth and leadership. Does control over public wealth reinforce positions of leadership? Or is public wealth a means through which collectivities control their leaders? Finally, the connection between public wealth and well-being. How does public wealth contribute to individual and collective well-being? Is public wealth an expression of, or a pre-condition for, community well-being?

Particular importance will be placed to understanding how indigenous notions of public wealth and well-being –based on the accumulation of intangibles such as vitality, good health, and conviviality– differ from those entertained in Euro-American societies –more inclined towards the accumulation of material goods. The session proposes to examine these questions through an interdisciplinary approach, bringing together anthropologists, archeologists and historians, and analyzing a broad range of past and present indigenous societies. In so doing it hopes to tend bridges and intensify dialogue between scholars from different disciplines, thus enriching current theoretical debates on Amerindian sociality, personhood, materiality, and identity.

Palavras-chaves: property, public wealth, well-being, indigenous peoples, tropical America

Título Autores País Co-Autores
10530 - private thoughts on public wealth: how communal life works against property Coelho de Souza, Marcela Brazil / Brasilien
10699 - Collective Administration of Social Age Amongst Gê Speakers Fisher, William Ud States of Am / USA
11607 - The Snake People: group identity and public wealth in Pre-Columbian Marajó Island Schaan, Denise Pahl Brazil / Brasilien
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