Nukak: Ethnoarchaeology of an Amazonian People

Nukak: Ethnoarchaeology of an Amazonian People

by Gustavo Politis
     
 

From Gustavo Politis, one of the most renowned South American archaeologists, comes the first in-depth study in English of the last “undiscovered” people of the Amazon. His work is groundbreaking and urgent, both because of encroaching guerrilla violence that makes Nukak existence perilously fragile, and because his work with the Nukak represented one

Overview

From Gustavo Politis, one of the most renowned South American archaeologists, comes the first in-depth study in English of the last “undiscovered” people of the Amazon. His work is groundbreaking and urgent, both because of encroaching guerrilla violence that makes Nukak existence perilously fragile, and because his work with the Nukak represented one of the last opportunities to conduct research with hunter-gatherers using contemporary methodological and the theoretical tools. Through a rich and comprehensive ethno-archaeological portrait of material culture “in the making,” this work makes methodological and conceptual advances in the interpretation of hunter-gather societies. Politis’s conclusions, based on six years of original research and on comparative analysis, are integrative and contribute to the identification of the multiple factors involved in the formation of hunter-gatherer archaeological assemblages.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In Nukak, we have the most comprehensive treatise on ethnoarchaeology of an Amazonian society yet written. The work is a most important and original ethnological contribution to the Northwest Amazon. Gustavo Politis weds meticulous observations on Nukak production of artifacts, including the discards of their economic activities and their management of wild orchards among which they trek, to sophisticated ethnographic, botanical, zoological, and ecological analysis. This work transcends both ethnography and archaeology while at the same time providing the reader with a profoundly well illustrated account of a society that thrives on the delicate edge between horticulture and foraging in a wooded milieu partly created by themselves and their forebears. Politis's outstanding study is a major breakthrough in ethnoarchaeology and Amazoniana, and it will be read and studied carefully, widely, and for many years to come by scholars and students in diverse fields." —William L. Balee, Tulane University

"An endangered human society needs a very special book. Gustavo Politis provides us with one in his unforgettable portrait of a community marginalised by the pressures indigenous people face in the Global South. With an archaeologist's eye for detail we are led along the forest paths of the Nukak's world and into their lives. Sensitive and dignified, his photographs will haunt the history of the twenty-first century." —Clive Gamble, Royal Holloway University of London

"This vivid and absorbing account challenges many of our assumptions as archaeologists. Politis delves into the rich tapestry of Nukak social and symbolic life while at the same time providing a full account of technologies, subsistence and artifact discard. He uses a broad range of perspectives to produce a uniquely balanced account. This book has impact not only on ethnoarchaeology and hunter-gatherer archaeology, but also on debates in archaeological theory as a whole." —Ian Hodder, Stanford University

"Politis presents the finest treatise yet on the archaeology of a living Amazonian society. Readers can discern that the author cares deeply about the living people he works with; they come to life on the printed page as nuanced agents of landscape transformation, not as stick figures in archaeological rock art. The book is engrossing in its coverage of northwest Amazon ethnology and historical ecology. As theory, this book may be construed as the first archaeological monograph on the Amazon from the perspective of historical ecology." —CHOICE Magazine

Politis has written a book that shows that the Nukak choose to emphasize foraging for symbolic and sociocultural reasons and that horticulture and foraging are not pure types…The Nukak are the way they are because they prefer to live as such. Just as there are different ways of making a living in Amazonia, so too there are different ways to define and practice “the good life,” the imagined pragmatics of what it means to be fully human....Politis’s rich ethnography provides good data for the Nukak, who are an extremely interesting and creative group of people. Overall, I recommend this book for specialists, graduate students, and advanced undergraduates.

-Michael A. Uzendoski, Current Anthropology

This volume forms an informative and stimulating book for a broadaudience with interests in archaeology, anthropology, history, materialculture, indigenous peoples, Colombia, and the Amazon in general....Politis shows to a great extent that the incorporation, as Ingold and Lucas (2007) argue, of archaeology, anthropology, architecture, and arts...is plausible and indeed contributes to a remarkable detailed account and deeper understanding of life.

-Anthropology Review Database

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781598742305
Publisher:
Taylor & Francis
Publication date:
05/31/2009
Series:
University College London Institute of Archaeology Publications
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
412
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 0.90(d)

Meet the Author

Gustavo Politis is a professor of archaeology at the Universidad Nacional del Centro, Buenos Aires, Argentina, is one of the most renowned South American archaeologists in the English-speaking world. He has held visiting lectureships around the world, including at Cambridge University, University of Southampton, and Stanford University. He is author and editor of many books, including Archaeology in Latin America (ed. with B. Alberti, Routledge, 1999), and has contributed to many key reference books, including Theory in Archaeology, The Blackwell Companion to Social Archaeology, Encyclopedia of Vernacular Architecture of the World, and Unknown Amazon.

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