By Lucas Bessire
In 2004, one of many world’s final bands of voluntarily remoted nomads left at the back of their ancestral existence within the dwindling thorn forests of northern Paraguay, fleeing ranchers’ bulldozers. Behold the Black Caiman is Lucas Bessire’s intimate chronicle of the adventure of this small team of Ayoreo humans, the terrifying new international they now face, and the precarious lives they're piecing jointly opposed to the backdrop of soul-collecting missionaries, humanitarian NGOs, past due liberal financial rules, and the top deforestation fee within the world.
Drawing on ten years of fieldwork, Bessire highlights the stark disconnect among the determined stipulations of Ayoreo lifestyles for these out of the woodland and the well-funded worldwide efforts to maintain these Ayoreo nonetheless dwelling in it. via displaying how this disconnect reverberates inside of Ayoreo our bodies and minds, his reflexive account takes objective on the devastating results of our society’s persevered obsession with the primitive and increases very important questions about anthropology’s effective means to extra or abate indigenous struggles for sovereignty. the result's a well timed replace to the vintage literary ethnographies of South the US, a sustained critique of the so-called ontological turn—one of anthropology’s preferred trends—and, peculiarly, an pressing demand students and activists alike to reconsider their notions of difference.
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Extra info for Behold the Black Caiman: A Chronicle of Ayoreo Life
I struggled to keep up. Simijáné taught me about the ujñarone of Jobe, or Tarantula, in the following way: Jobe, Tarantula, stayed at the door to his house when the wind blew. ” They were afraid of the strength of the wind that was too strong and always blew dust where they were living. ” So I began to do the secret of Jobe. You can use the secret of Ango’oto for this wind, but it may kill someone in the village. The secret of Jochin’goi [a small tortoise] is also fine to use for this. I told the Jobe ujñarone, and the strong wind went away.
I soon shifted my full attention to collecting oral histories and spent six months in the spring of 2002 traveling among several Ayoreo communities in eastern Bolivia. I recorded more than five hundred hours of elders’ stories—first working with translators and later, as my Ayoreo language skills improved, alone. My justification at the time was that of the salvage ethnographer, imagining that I could document a vanishing difference for future generations. I was especially eager to record the ujñarone: a set of esoteric chants that, according to the books and articles I had read, previously formed 27 c ha p te r one the core of shamanic practice.
We heard it even rained in Santa Cruz. ” So I said I would try. ” God told the men [that] one who doesn’t know very much should not say that he knows everything. ” One should not be proud if he knows a lot of things. He who knows something should not be proud. When he receives something, he shouldn’t keep this thing for himself. He has to give it to others as well. Tarantula and his people, they had grown afraid of the wind. ” The warrior leader of Tarantula’s band was Jochin’goi. ” He thought about the place where he lived before.
Behold the Black Caiman: A Chronicle of Ayoreo Life by Lucas Bessire