9484 - The Pen and the Dart: Dark Arts of Amazonian Lawfare

This paper explores the modes and effects of literacy among Peruvian Urarina, focusing on their engagement with written documents and their relationship to voice and the power of the spoken word. In the context of transforming strategies of dispute resolution, characterised by an emerging culture of legality and fetishism of the law, techniques of dark or retributive shamanism are being superseded by mastery of the production of written documents – especially the formal complaint, or denuncia - while retaining an emphasis on the projection of objects from the self and a careful cultivation of powerful allies.  The paper argues that writing among Urarina can best be understood as a technology for objectifying and delegating voice and detaching it from agency, and is particularly influential and esteemed for this reason. By exploring emerging forms of legal subjectivity in relation to contrastive ideologies of the spoken and written word, the paper seeks to shed light on the nature and conceptual status of ‘justice’ in a perspectival cosmos.

Keywords: writing, semiotic ideologies, law, shamanism

Author: Walker, Harry (London School of Economics and Political Science, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)


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