Accepted Paper:

Materiality and exhibition of the book as a ritual artefact in the Northwest Amazon  
Samir R de Angelo (University of Sao Paulo)

Paper short abstract:

Based on the ethnography of a collection of books, the Indigenous Narrators of Rio Negro, published by indigenous authors from the Northwest Amazon, this paper presents the local conception of the book as an artefact and as an object of exhibition for the Tukano indigenous groups.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation seeks to explain the complex transformations that the Tukano groups undergone during the period of colonialist intervention and how the book was appropriated by them and was given a new meaning. The interest in books is related to the progressive weakening of ritual practices condemned by the missionaries which created the context for the exhibition of the book as a ritual object. Considered as a living object, books are used both through their narratives and through their materiality as a mean for the transmission of the genealogical knowledge of the Tukano's clans. Much of the research on the phenomena of indigenous writing has focused on the content of texts. This approach fails to consider the meaning of the materiality of the book, treating it merely as support. This paper suggests that the visual, form and materiality are as important as their verbal content. Gell's theory of art turns away from semiotics and aesthetics and books are excluded from consideration because they are heavily verbal and Gell's argument is explicitly anti-linguistic. However his theory of art can be applied to books and his contrast between agency, on the one hand and semiotics and aesthetics, on the other, is related to the contrast between the material form and verbal content of books. Instead of opposing form/content and material/immaterial, it seems more appropriated to think the book as a condensatory artefact used both as an object of exhibition and as a mean to register their knowledge.

Panel P052
Artefacts and visual systems in Oceania and America