6289 - To perfect a shaman: cosmopolitics in an Amazonian maroon territory

This paper will reflect on the connections between shamanism (among other therapeutic practices) and the historic and contemporary movement of the maroon communities that live along the Erepecuru and Cuminá rivers, in the northwest of Pará state (Brazil). Three descriptive levels will be directly related for this purpose: maroon cosmogonic accounts (which pivot on the movement of shamans and enchanted beings along these rivers), historical reflections on the arrival of African slave labour and the emergence of maroon communities in the Amazonian region of Brazil and the ethnographic description of the emergence of a new maroon shaman. This multifaceted narrative will trace the cosmopolitical elements that operate among these maroon communities to create both a therapeutic-religious geography, as proposed by the symposium's conveners, and a specific sociopolitical configuration, which mediates the constant tension between accumulation and division of resources (including people) within the communities and in relations with non-maroons. The position of the shaman (sacaca) and other healers in relation to other community leaders will thus be considered, as a means to elicit the place of therapeutic practices within the maroons' historical and contemporary experience of isolation and relations with whites, local indigenous peoples and with the invisible beings that inhabit their territory. As such, the paper will also reflect on the broader anthropological debate surrounding connections between political and cosmological relations, through the specific figure of the shaman, proposing the efficacy of the notion of an afroindigenous cosmopolitics as a descriptive key and methodological tool, which allows for the identification of practices that articulate different worlds, in differing ways.

Keywords: Afroindigenous, Cosmopolitics, Shamanism, Maroons, Movement

Author: Sauma, Julia (University College London, United Kingdom/Ver Königr)


University of Vienna | Dr.-Karl-Lueger-Ring 1 | 1010 Vienna | T +43 1 4277 17575