Author:Jonathan Alderman (Ludwig Maximilian University Munich)
Paper short abstract:
In the rural Andes, personhood is defined by intersubjective relationships with nonhuman beings. This paper will examine the role of the house as a nonhuman being itself and as a conduit between its inhabitants and local place deities.
Paper long abstract:
In the rural Andes, personhood is defined by intersubjective reciprocal relationships with nonhuman beings. This paper will examine the role of the house as a nonhuman being in itself and as a conduit between its inhabitants and local place deities. In the rural Andes, houses are traditionally made from adobe (mud and straw). The house materially connects its inhabitants with the deities that reside on mountainsides, since it is made of the same substance as the mountains themselves. Following Andeanist anthropologists Catherine Allen (2014: 74), who refers to the adobe house as a sentient being, Benjamin Orlove (1998), who describes mud as constitutive of the identity of rural Andeans, and Marisol de la Cadena's (2015) of personhood in the rural Andes as mutually constituted in relationships with Earth Beings, I examine an Andean understanding of wellbeing as the maintenance of practices that reproduce consubstantiality. The paper is based on fieldwork with the Kallawayas, Bolivian shamanic-healers, for whom the physical and emotional wellbeing of their patients depends on their reciprocal relations with the nonhuman beings around them. Relations between people and local deities are maintained through offerings on community and house shrines. A lack of attention to sacrificial obligations can lead to illness and misfortune, seriously affecting wellbeing. Part of this paper will discuss the effects on these relations of consubstantiality when the material of Kallawaya houses changes from adobe to red-brick, no longer connecting people with the wider environment, but placing a barrier.
Corporeality & material ecology: the affordances of stuff and wellbeing