Accepted Paper:

A meditation on time: learning to see in Amazonia  
Els Lagrou (Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)

Paper short abstract:

The analysis of ritual song in huni kuin ayahuasca ritual serves as a starting point for the examination of huni kuin perception of time and of how pattern, figures and form reveal their concepts of relation.

Paper long abstract:

Strathern states that in Melanesia relations are made manifest through form. Forms, such as babies, yams and artifacts are the outcome of relations. In Amazonia, however, what is obviated through patterned form are relations themselves rather then their outcome. Pattern in Western Amazonia points towards an ontology of connectedness and towards the reversibility of all forms. Pattern registers movement and bodies are conceived of as immersed in a constant process of becoming. Patterns reveal, or suggest, the multiple fractal relations that constitute and connect beings, persons and collectives. Here I will explore how form reveals relations in Amazonia through the examination of the role of Figures and pattern in shamanistic ayahuasca song, the paradigmatic experience of becoming self through a controlled process of other-becoming. This case study serves as a starting point for the examination of huni kuin perception of time. The ritual is called nawa huni, a composed concept that unites the terms for self and other, showing how they constitute an interdependent unstable Figure. Nawa huni is a substance originated from the corpse of a human ancestor, who became Yube, anaconda-being, but came back and continued to be kin. The song guides the novice through a similar experience that connects one's embodied thoughts to the past as well as to the future, to the indigenous worlds of the ancestors and to the world of the white, and other manifestations of otherness, proposing, as in the case of anaconda-becoming, the possibility of becoming self by means of becoming other.

Panel P052
Artefacts and visual systems in Oceania and America