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Accepted Paper:

Sound and the Body-Mind-Environment Axionomy: The Substrate of Intercorporeality  

Authors:

Bernd Brabec de Mori (University of Graz)
Yvonne Schaffler (University of Vienna)

Paper short abstract:

In ethnographies around the globe, sound is described as a prerequisite for ritual action. Based on examples from the Amazon and the Caribbean we propose that sound, as a medium for intercorporeal and interaffective experience, can aid in bridging epistemological incommensurabilities.

Paper long abstract:

Around the globe, ethnographies tell us, songs, sounds or rhythms are not only a substantial part of, but often an absolute prerequisite for ritual action: e.g., drum rhythms invoke the orixá in Brazilian candomblé, and gongs are played during the Philippine Ifugao's pig sacrifice. In both anthropology and musicology, however, the inevitability of sonic utterance in ritual has not yet been well explained. In ethnographies, on the other hand, explanations like "the songs are performed by the spirits", "this rhythm calls the ancestors", or "our voice is heard by the gods" abound. Proposing a bridge between ontological pluralism and scientific epistemology, we will embark on the endeavour to situate sound as the preferred medium of intercorporeality and interaffectivity within a space that embraces the human mind, body, and environment (as related to the 4E-concept of human cognition). Axionomy is understood as an extension of taxonomy into axiomatic metaphysical preconditions; ontological linkages describe which kinds of relations and connections exist in indigenous theory and in which way they interconnect and can be used.

Based on two examples of ritual action - a Shipibo-Konibo indigenous curing session in the Western Amazon, and a Vodoist celebration involving spirit possession in the Dominican Republic - it will be shown that an axionomy of ontological linkages between mind, body, and environment can be understood as a matrix for sound permeating and interconnecting the embodied experience of participating persons.

Panel P115b
Other Worlds, Other Bodies?: Ethnography, Experience and Epistemological Embodiment