Forests articulations in the Surinam: consorting with animals and exercises in mimicry and becoming
Fabiola Jara Gomez (Utrecht University)
Paper short abstract:
Carib ontology understands their being as the result of their involvement in the world. Implicit in carib sociality is the idea of being as a process of becoming effected in diverse practices of mimicry and transformation. Based on ethnographic research this paper focus on two different sets of Carib practices: shamanic learning paths and nomadic pathways.
Paper long abstract:
Carib ontology understands their being in the world as the result of their involvement therein. Most Carib groups in Surinam are horticulturalists. They use the method of shifting cultivation to produce manioc their staple food. Until recently (1960’s) horticultural practices were intertwined with hunting and gathering. Kinship notions still inform the relationships of the group with the cultivated plants while hunting and fishing are expressed in terms of intermarriage and sexuality. Key to the maintenance of these relationships is the püjai (shaman) who undergoes a long learning process which allows him to negotiate the terms of the alliances with inhabitants of the forest. In Surinam Carib groups have being known to (sporadically) embrace a nomadic way of life as answer to colonial encroachment. The way in which this transformation into nomadism is effected is suggestive of the actual ongoing character of the relationships. Going from cultivation to gathering needs a transformation of the way in which people consort with the animals. The nomad groups inscribe themselves directly into the ecology of the forest underscoring friendship and commensalism with the animals with which they share forest products and paths. This paper will address the question of Carib sociality. It examines carib notions of being as a process of becoming. This effort is based on ethnographic research this paper focus on two different sets of Carib practices: shamanic learning paths and nomadic pathways.
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