Accepted paper:

The priest and the difference: a theological controversy among the Ayoreo (Paraguayan Chaco)


Leif Grunewald (Universidade Federal Fluminense)

Paper short abstract:

This paper focus on a theological controversy that would come to view of the interplaying of the Ayoreo’ and the Salesian missionaries’ thoughts about difference. as well as on the audacious innovations Ayoreo people had done with the historical circumstances they had endured after contact.

Paper long abstract:

In this paper, my concern is with the elucidation of a Salesian thought about difference, plans of action and policies designed by Salesian missionaries and its effect on an Ayoreo thought about the cojñói, 'white people', often told to be risky to deal with - since exploitation is almost always an expected consequence of interaction with them - and owners of many powerful and desirable things. In the writing of my account of Ayoreo sociality and the recent historical transformations I describe in my paper I begin with a myth of origin of the world and of enmity told to me by an Ayoreo woman I knew quite well and I also asked of this myth the same questions Lévi-Strauss and Peter Gow asked about myths in general and about mythical thought. Paraphrasing Peter Gow, I asked first: is this myth a historical object? If so, what kind of historical object is it? Besides that, in the body of the paper I also make an attempt to link this interplaying of thoughts about difference to transformations in the Ayoreo lived world and well-trodden themes in the general anthropological literature through the Ayoreo myth of origin of the world and of enmity. This raises inevitably an important question, referring precisely to a pair of aspects of Pierre Clastres critique of the action of missionaries in lowland South America and the dimension of the State in Amerindian societies.

panel P64
The failed utopia: 'enlightening' the contradictions of christianisation, secularisation and civilisation in the Americas