Chiefs, Scribes, and Ethnographers: Kuna Culture from Inside - download pdf or read online
By James Howe
The Kuna of Panama, at the present time the most effective identified indigenous peoples of Latin the US, moved over the process the 20th century from orality and isolation in the direction of literacy and an lively engagement with the kingdom and the realm. spotting the fascination their tradition has held for lots of outsiders, Kuna intellectuals and villagers have collaborated actively with international anthropologists to counter anti-Indian prejudice with optimistic debts in their humans, hence changing into the brokers in addition to topics of ethnography. One group of chiefs and secretaries, particularly, independently produced a chain of historic and cultural texts, later released in Sweden, that at the present time nonetheless represent the root of Kuna ethnography.
As a learn of the political makes use of of literacy, of western illustration and indigenous counter-representation, and of the ambivalent inter-cultural discussion on the center of ethnography, Chiefs, Scribes, and Ethnographers addresses key concerns in modern anthropology. it's the tale of a longer ethnographic stumble upon, one related to enormous quantities of lively individuals on either side and carrying on with today.
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Additional info for Chiefs, Scribes, and Ethnographers: Kuna Culture from Inside and Out
They were not merely any old expatriate, priest, or academic, but Markham, our local expert on the San Blas; Gassó of the famous mission to the Caribe-Kunas; or Stout (Wassén, Sherzer, Howe), who wrote that book on those Indians in Panama. For all of them, “identity work and the (re)construction of the self [were] part and parcel of the ethnographic endeavour” (Atkinson et al. 2001, 324). That being said, there can be no doubt that, here and elsewhere, the propensity to assume for oneself “the authority to defi ne the essential elements and boundaries of [other] cultures” (S.
But dismissing positive portrayals across the board as mere gestures or conceits—treating attacks as real and defense as illusory—obscures the sometimes positive effects of such representations over time. As Sherry Smith (2000, 14) argues concerning early-twentiethcentury North American indigenist writers: To acknowledge that [popularizers] often failed to grasp the complexities of Indian peoples; that they often failed to transcend their own ethnocentric and even racist assumptions; and that .
Even chiefs deadset against schools, as was Inabaginya, found they could not do without at least one literate assistant. The men and boys they recruited, often fresh out of primary school, were called secretario in Spanish and sikkwi, or bird, in Kuna, after the marks made by their pens on the page. By extension, the name sikkwi came to encompass not just scribes in particular but young literate men as a class. By recruiting scribes and giving them important but dependent positions in village and regional politics, chiefs gained some control over a potent new technology, one they themselves had no chance of mastering, as well as control over the technology’s practitioners; co-opting young potential rivals, they forestalled the kind of intergenerational confl ict that had broken out between Charly and Claudio.
Chiefs, Scribes, and Ethnographers: Kuna Culture from Inside and Out by James Howe