Reviewed

#383 Substantiating the ancestors of an Amazonian First People in Central Brazil through their personal names


Coresponding author's contact details

First name Vanessa Middle name Rosemary Last name Lea
Title Dr Organization / Institution UNICAMP Department Social Anthropology
Address R. Pascoal Vita 391/41 Postal / Zip code 05445000 Country BR
E-Mail Hidden Phone number Hidden Presenting author Yes

Co-authors (0)

No Co-authors found.

Abstract

Abstract title

Substantiating the ancestors of an Amazonian First People in Central Brazil through their personal names

Abstract text

In the study of Jê (Gê) Amazonian First Peoples of Central Brazil attention as to what counts as substance has generally centred on the practice of fasting by members of the immediate family (parents and siblings) when one of their members is ill. This was described by the ethnographer Nimuendaju as a mystical bond, but other ethnographers (notably Seeger) referred to it as a community of substance. A recently published dataset (Lea 2020) concerning the Mẽbêngôkre (Kayapó) reinforces my depiction of exogamous matrihouses that connect back to mythological ancestors via personal names. Most major ceremonies revolve around the confirmation of ancestral names that are ideally retransmitted from one generation to the next. Over the years this facilitates confusion over which specific individual one is referring to. The further back one goes, the ancestors tend to be amalgamated together through this gene-like immaterial substance whereby a relatively narrow gap is maintained between the living as their mythical forebears, exemplified by a man declaring his nhenget (grandfather, great-grandfather and so on) to have been a particular ancestral figure. Amazonian First Peoples were long taken to be disinterested in their forebears, but recent research has nuanced this claim, putting the ancestors back into the picture.

Conference topic

Panel no. 104 - Performing Substances, Transmitting Legacies

Preferred format

Oral

Abstract Review

This abstract was reviewed on 2021-01-07 10:22h by Federica Juliana

Reviewer decision

Accepted