3168 - Jepota: revisiting a classical theme in guarani ethnology

Recent studies on amerindian ontologies have have developed a new way to describe human-nature relations in Amazonia. Animism (Descola, 2005) and perspectivism (Lima, 1996; Viveiros de Castro, 1996), for example, have paved this way, enabling important reflections on how kinship is made “out of others” (Vilaça, 2002; Fausto, 2002) and how there’s an instability pervading indigenous bodies (Vilaça, 2005). Besides that, as Viveiros de Castro (2002; 2004) and Lima (1995) have shown, this recent studies have important consequences to anthropological practice in general. This paper aims to “insert” a classical theme of Guarani ethnology – the jepota – into this theoretical-descriptive way. Following Mbya-guarani reflections on what it means to be human, it is posible to establish a bridge between humans (mbya) and other beings, such as animals, plants and non-indians. These beings have a way to present themselves as humans to the Mbya and, in such encounters, they are able to make the Mbya succumb to their perspective. That is what the Mbya call jepota and, in this paper, that transformation will be seen as a way to succumb to a non-human perspective – to loose the mbya perspective. But that raises a question: if it is posible to loose humanity, is it possible to impose it? What would the Mbya-guarani say about that? To them, imposing a perspective comes in the form of respect: one who imposes its (own; human) perspective, imposes respect. As a conclusion, finally, we suggest that the jepota cannot be understood without its counterpart – perspective imposition – which is nhemboete (respect). Thus, following recent works on indian-white relations (Kelly, 2005), another conclusion is that, from Mbya’s point of view, non-indians can be comprehended through the jepota/nhemboete (respect) relationship form. I’ve known the Mbya-guarani since 2005 and, from then on, have made fieldwork in their settlements in southern Brasil, which resulted in my Master’s Dissertation.

Keywords: Mbya-guarani; jepota; perspectivism; indian-white relations

Author: Orlandini, Guilherme (PPGAS/MN/UFRJ, Brazil / Brasilien)


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