Accepted Paper:

Beyond doom and gloom: utopia and death in the oral narratives of the Xavante of Marãiwatsédé, Central Region of Brazil, as a discursive strategy of survival, overcoming and healing  


Clarisse Drummond Martins Machado (Universidade de Brasília (UnB))

Paper short abstract:

Throughout the collaboration of the recovering of the Xavante's memories it is possible documenting not only the processes that caused deep changes in their lifes, but also to see the memories beyond pain's narratives revealing ideals of future and an idea of death which doesn't represent an end.

Paper long abstract:

Anthropology has been very successful in documenting the violence imposed on the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas throughout the process of colonization and formation of national states. In Brazil, the Xavante People of Maraiwatsédé has regained the right to return to their territory and are now struggling to obtain reparation for the forced removal that almost exterminated them in 1966. The recovery of the memories of the survivors has been a way of documenting the process that caused deep changes in their way of life, food system, health and social organization. The collaboration with the transcription of 42 testimonies of the survivors allowed me to analyze personal memories of violence, going beyond narratives of pain and injustice and reaching ideals of future associated to an idea of "death", whose conception does not seem to represent an end, but an strategy of (re) existence that connects the history of each person to those who have died and, in this sense, represents collective continuity. Relativizing the Western conception of utopia (MORUS 1495), and understanding the discourse as the "most direct manifestation of the consciousness that seeks an understanding" (BASSO 1995), the analysis of the utopia in the Xavante's elders narratives doesn't mean abandoning the analysis of the colonial violence but also looking into visions of the future that has almost ruined their society's project despite the "world-modern-system", pointing out to ways to combine descriptions of disgrace and sadness to ontologies that contribute for overcoming and healing the past.

Panel WIM-WHF01
Hope, futures and worldmaking: critical anthropology beyond the tropes of suffering