The societies of the Vaupés region are now among the most documented indigenous cultures of the New World, in part because they are thought to resemble earlier civilizations lost during initial colonial conflict. Here at last is the eagerly awaited publication of a posthumous work by the man widely regarded as the preeminent authority on Vaupés Amazonian societies. Cubeo Hehénewa Religious Thought will be the definitive account of the religious worldview of a significant Amazonian culture. Cubeo religious thought incorporates ideas about the nature of the cosmos, society, and human life; the individual's orientation to the world; the use of hallucinogenic substances; and a New World metaphysics. This volume was substantially completed before Irving Goldman's death, but Peter Wilson has edited it for publication, providing a thorough introduction to Goldman's work. Stephen Hugh-Jones has contributed an afterword, setting the work in the context of contemporary Vaupés ethnography.
Columbia University Press
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About the Author
The late Irving Goldman was professor of anthropology at Sarah Lawrence College. The last surviving student of Franz Boas, he was author of The Cubeo Indians of the Northwest Amazon, Ancient Polynesian Society, and The Mouth of Heaven.
Peter Wilson is emeritus professor of anthropology at Otago University in New Zealand and author of The Domestication of the Human Species. Stephen Hugh-Jones is head of the Department of Anthropology at Cambridge University and is a fellow of King's College.
Table of Contents
2. Creation and Emergence
3. The Social Order
4. Daily Life at Ground Level
5. The Cosmic Order
6. The Ritual Order
7. Death and Mourning
8. Shamans, Jaguars, and Thunderers
Afterword, by Stephen Hugh-Jones
What People are Saying About This
In this eloquent and majestic account of Cubeo religious thought, the late Irving Goldman explores an indigenous Amazonian theory of life as a musical creation by ancestral spirits and shows how this creative life force infuses all dimensions of their society. Yet for the Cubeo, this musical process of mythic creation and religious remembrance does not bring about a unified and integrated pattern of cosmic order; rather, it generates and constantly energizes a concern for the place that each person occupies in society, an ordering based on ancestral pedigrees that are a matter of constant attention, difference, and negotiation. In this extraordinary book, a masterful ethnographer in the Boasian tradition brings to life the religious thought of one of the more enigmatic indigenous societies of South America and powerfully integrates the poetic dimensions of anthropological research with hard-nosed analysis of social interaction in all its messiness and specificity.
Irving Goldman's pioneering research has inspired generations of anthropologists, and his study The Cubeo is rightly regarded as a classic of South American ethnography. Cubeo Hehénewa Religious Thought, his last book, is truly his crowning achievement, the impressive culmination of a lifetime of extraordinarily creative thinking and research.
This book brilliantly and thoroughly caps one of the most productive intellectual sojourns in indigenous South American thought, action, and imagination. A wonderful theory-constructive endeavor based on splendid, rich, and readable ethnography on Tukanoan religion, culture, and life itself.
Anthropologists rarely come as close to serial fiction as does Irving Goldman. The reader no sooner closes one book than (s)he seeks to open another. To some extent, this can be explained by the Cubeo themselves--for they indeed exemplify the great beauty and complexity of which human cultures are capable. Moreover, the Cubeo (along with the Wanano and their other Tukanoan in-laws) defy some of our most cherished assumptions about the expressive forms, organizations, and everyday lives of peoples of the Amazon rainforest. The first of Goldman's books to engage readers was based on his 1933 work among the Cubeo. This newest work, completed just before his death in 2002, is a 'rediscovery' of the Cubeo during a visit forty years later. This new opus, perhaps his finest, shows Goldman guilty of the forgivable sin of extreme rigor toward his ongoing project. In this volume he elaborates many of the most compelling of his earlier observations--the very questions that left readers awaiting a sequel. In it larger themes and implications, initiated in the earlier work, are explored with profundity and clarity. It is rare to find a scholar in anthropology--or in any other field--whose work is read as widely and as carefully as is Goldman's and who is held in unvarying high esteem. No major anthropologist is cherished more by students and colleagues alike. We are privileged to have yet another Goldman exploration, this one into the religious thought of the Cubeo.