Paper short abstract:
Contemporary local attempts at "strengthening" the surfaces of living beings seek to capture endurance. The resulting "container effects" are moments in the world of chronically deficient permanency. They provide powerful imagery of the causes and results of the living-as-dying processes.
Paper long abstract:
Reflecting from contemporary Western Amazon, permanence is a limited good, antithetical to the fatal principles of life processes. What we call containers and containment amount to engineered moments in the process of living-as-dying. These moments are created by attempts at: maintaining the naturally depleting life value; control of the nesting positions that result from ineluctable transferences of these vital values (reproduction, life maintenence and perishing).
This paper overviews some of the means with which such glimpses of permanence are locally construed through sources (i.e. historicized knowledge-substance) understood as hard, impermeable and imperishable. Modern ethnographic examples range from strengthening of the new-born's body, through toughening of the shaman's bodily shell, to urban constructions made of concrete, strong surnames and laws, the word of God, or the 'modernizing' process. These spatialized moments focus a much broader reflection on the living process, since they deal with the production, maintenence and destruction of life.
The ethnographic imagery of containing (principle of the 'classical' Native American 'Mastery/owning' relations) calls for attention to topological and mereological relations/positions, as well as to their inevitable interplay of negotiations and inversions. Traduced into anthropological perspective, such potent spatialized and materialized moments allow a glimpse into some Euro-American givens pervading long-standing understandings of the processes of life production and death, sociality and kinship, modernity and tradition.
Containers / Containment