The Culture of Invention in the Americas
Pedro Pitarch y José Antonio Kelly (Eds)
The Culture of Invention in the Americas takes the theoretical contribution of one of anthropology's most radical thinkers, Roy Wagner, as a basis for conceptual improvisation. It uses Wagner's most synthetic and complex insights - developed in Melanesia and captured in the title of his most famous book, The Invention of Culture - as a springboard for an exploration of other anthropological and societal imaginaries. What do the inherent reflexivity, recursiveness and limits of all and any peoples' anthropologies render for us to write and think about, and live within? Who is doing anthropology about whom? Which are the best ways to convey our partial grasp of these conundrums: theory, poetry, jokes? No claim is made to resolve what should not be seen as a problem. Instead, inspired by Roy Wagner's study and use of metaphor, this book explores analogical variations of these riddles. The chapters bring together ethnographic regions rarely investigated together: indigenous peoples of Mexico and Lowland South America; and Afro-American peoples of Brazil and Cuba. The 'partial connections' highlighted by the authors' analytic conjunctions - Ifá divination practices and Yanomami shamanism, Kisedjê (Amazonia) and Huichol (Mexico) anthropology of Whites, and Meso-American and Afro-American practices of sacrifice - show the inspirational potential of such rapprochements.