Speaking through animals: Kawaiwete shamanism and metalingual play

Working from transcripts of Kawaiwete shamanic cures and myths, this paper looks at moments of referential play, situations in which animal terms are used to refer to humans and their physical states as well as moments when referential language is replaced by non-referential communication. As the Kawaiwete are a Tupian-speaking Brazilian indigenous people, their shamanic and myth performances offer a means of considering how a lowland people’s language ideologies relate to the construction of ontology. Given that Amazonian or “Amerindian ontology ” has been represented as the inverse of “the Western ontology, ” and that a focus on reference is associated with “Western ” language ideology, this emphasis on referential play and the creative manipulation of the metalingual function of language, is counterintuitive. This paper argues that these techniques are key ways the “perspectival ” aspects of lowland cosmologies come to be summoned and experienced. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd

Working from transcripts of Kawaiwete shamanic cures and myths, this paper looks at moments of referential play, situations in which animal terms are used to refer to humans and their physical states as well as moments when referential language is replaced by non-referential communication. As the Kawaiwete are a Tupian-speaking Brazilian indigenous people, their shamanic and myth performances offer a means of considering how a lowland people’s language ideologies relate to the construction of ontology. Given that Amazonian or “Amerindian ontology ” has been represented as the inverse of “the Western ontology, ” and that a focus on reference is associated with “Western ” language ideology, this emphasis on referential play and the creative manipulation of the metalingual function of language, is counterintuitive. This paper argues that these techniques are key ways the “perspectival ” aspects of lowland cosmologies come to be summoned and experienced. © 2018 Elsevier Ltd

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