Our lives are mostly composed of ordinary reality - the flow of moment-to-moment existence - and yet it has been largely overlooked as a subject in itself for anthropological study. In this work, the author achieves an understanding of this part of reality for the Mehinaku Indians, an Amazonian people, in two stages: first by observing various aspects of their experience and second by relating how these different facets come to play in a stream of ordinary consciousness, a walk to the river. In this way, abstract schemata such as 'cosmology,' 'sociality,' 'gender,' and the 'everyday' are understood as they are actually lived. This book contributes to the ethnography of the Amazon, specifically the Upper Xingu, with an approach that crosses disciplinary boundaries between anthropology, philosophy, and psychology. In doing so it attempts to comprehend what Malinowski called the 'imponderabilia of actual life.'
Carla Stang received her undergraduate degree at the University of Sydney and was awarded the Frank Bell Memorial Prize for Anthropology for her studies there. In 2005, she took her doctorate in Anthropology at the University of Cambridge. Presently she is a Visiting Scholar in Cultural Anthropology at Columbia University. She carried out her ethnographic fieldwork in the Upper Xingu area of the Brazilian Amazon.
List of Figures List of Plates Preface Acknowledgements Pronouncing Mehinaku Words Glossary Introduction I. The Question II. Writing about Lived Experience III. Writing about Ordinary Reality: from My Walk, through Her World, to Her Walk IV. Some Methodological Issues to Do with My Approach V. Contributions and Limitations of This Book VI. Some Background Chapter 1. My Walk Chapter 2. Configurations in Mehinaku Experience I. Substance II. Who Are the Apapanye?: the Substantiality of Spirits III. The Deception of Substance: All about 'Skins' IV. Eternal Archetypes and the Generation of Skins V. The Lake of Butterfl ies: an Amazonian Metaphysics VI. Mirroring and Parallel Configurations of Different Soul-worlds Chapter 3. Dynamic Aspects in Mehinaku Experience I. The Constant Movement of Mehinaku Existence II. 'Star Birds': Movement between Different Dimensions of Reality III. The Impetus of Movement: the Dynamic of Desire IV. The Boundaries for the Flow of Desire: Concentric Circles and Paths V. The Ever Present Th reat of the Collapse of Form: Dangerous Desire Let Loose VI. Holding up the Form of the Worlds: Maintaining Good Relationships (the 'UwekehA" Complex') and Integrity of Person (the Issue of Yerekyuki) VII. The Dynamic of Daring: to Create, Maintain and Improve Form, One Must Risk Form VIII. The AwA"shA"pai Ideal: a Life of Anxious Joy, in Tension between Integrity and Risk Chapter 4. Experience of Mehinaku Experience I. The Concept of a Concept: Mehinaku 'Thingness' and the Blending of Entities II. How Things Are Associated: at the Most Basic Level; in a 'Story Logic'; in a Certain Understanding of Ritual III. 'Awitsiri': the Principle of 'Care/Grace'; Living with the Right Consciousness in a World Made Manifest by Consciousness Chapter 5. Experience of the Mehinaku Social World I. In the House of the Jaguar: Shamans and Sorcerers in Mehinaku Experience II. Paths through the Akai Groves: Some Ideas about Mehinaku Experiences of Gender III. The Owl and the Toucan: General Tendencies of Mehinaku Sociality Chapter 6. Some Conclusions Chapter 7. Her Walk Cross References from the Description to Chapters 2-5 Bibliography Index