From the Enemy's Point of View: Humanity and Divinity in an Amazonian Society / Edition 1

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The Araweté are one of the few Amazonian peoples who have maintained their cultural integrity in the face of the destructive forces of European imperialism. In this landmark study, anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro explains this phenomenon in terms of Araweté social cosmology and ritual order. His analysis of the social and religious life of the Araweté--a Tupi-Guarani people of Eastern Amazonia--focuses on their concepts of personhood, death, and divinity.

Building upon ethnographic description and interpretation, Viveiros de Castro addresses the central aspect of the Arawete's concept of divinity--consumption--showing how its cannibalistic expression differs radically from traditional representations of other Amazonian societies. He situates the Araweté in contemporary anthropology as a people whose vision of the world is complex, tragic, and dynamic, and whose society commands our attention for its extraordinary openness to exteriority and transformation. For the Araweté the person is always in transition, an outlook expressed in the mythology of their gods, whose cannibalistic ways they imitate. From the Enemy's Point of View argues that current concepts of society as a discrete, bounded entity which maintains a difference between "interior" and "exterior" are wholly inappropriate in this and in many other Amazonian societies.

"Translated and revised version of author's 1986 doctoral thesis, one of the most influential monographs in Brazilian ethnology of the last decade. Describes and interprets cosmology and social philosophy of the Arawetâe, a Tupi-Guarani people of eastern Amazonia, from the perspective of concepts of the person, death and eschatology, divinity, and systems of shamanism and warfare. The theme of divine cannibalism is treated as part of the complex of Tupi-Guarani ritual anthropophagy"--Handbook of Latin American Studies, v. 57.

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Editorial Reviews

Originally published as Arawete: os deuses canibais (Rio de Janeiro: Jorge Zahar Editor LTDA; 1986). This translation from the Portuguese (by Catherine V. Howard) makes available in English the ethnographic work of Brazilian anthropologist de Castro, who studied the Arawete of eastern Amazonia, focusing on their cosmology and the theme of divine cannibalism. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780226858029
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press
  • Publication date: 7/28/1992
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 428
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Translator's Note
Note on Orthography
1 Cosmology and Society 1
1 The Cannibal Gods 1
2 Living with the Arawete 6
3 The Tupi-Guarani Landscape 24
2 Approaching the Arawete 30
1 The Country 30
2 The Regional Context 34
3 The People 38
4 History 48
3 The Forsaken Ones 58
1 The Separation 58
2 Who's Who in the Cosmos 63
3 Gods and Spirits 74
4 Tupi-Guarani Cosmologies 83
4 The Frame of Life 92
1 The Year 92
2 The Village 98
3 A Day in the Dry Season 104
4 Difficulty at the Beginning 109
5 Nurture and Supernature 119
1 Mild Beer 119
2 Strong Beer 123
3 Meat and Honey 133
4 The Alimentary Forms of the Religious Life 137
6 Familiar Terms 142
1 The Mixture 142
2 Names 143
3 Relatives 155
4 Eluding Affinity 167
7 Birth, and Copulation, and Death 179
1 The Facts of Life 179
2 Passions 191
3 Death 196
4 Only the Bones Forget 201
8 Alien Words 215
1 The Marriage of Heaven and Earth 215
2 Shamanism and the Music of the Gods 218
3 Killers and the Music of Enemies 238
4 The Enemy's Point of View 248
9 Beings of Becoming 252
1 The Cannibal Cogito 252
2 Spiritual Dualism and Cosmological Triads 259
3 My Brother-in-law the Jaguar 269
10 The Anti-Narcissus 273
1 Vengeance and Sacrifice 273
2 A Rare Bird 280
3 On Dialogical Anthropophagy 282
4 The Anti-Social Contract 293
5 Eaters of Raw Flesh 301
Appendix 1-A: Arawete Villages in 1981-83 309
Appendix 1-B: List of Historical Arawete Villages 312
Appendix 2-A: Arawete Population 314
Appendix 2-B: Genealogies 321
Appendix 3: Botanical and Zoological Terms (English, Portuguese, Arawete, Latin) 326
Appendix 4: Glossary of Arawete Terms 332
Notes 335
Works Cited 377
Index 393
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