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Guilherme Orlandini Heurich
Two Songs For Red Girl: Music And Language In Eastern Amazonia
Tuesday, November 6, 2018 - 18:45
The Araweté are 500 maize cultivators and hunters that live in Eastern Amazonia in seven villages in the Brazilian State of Pará. They have been in contact with Brazilian government representatives since the late 1970s and most of them currently speak Portuguese. The two songs examined in this talk belong to the “Music of the Gods” poetic genre, although they are quite unique. One of them is a “spirit capturing” song in which the shaman searches the outskirts of the village at night to capture the Anĩ spirits, who are often responsible for deaths amongst the Araweté. What is important, here, is that these two songs – the song that captures spirits and the one that heals lost souls – are connected through the same event. Red Girl, my neighbour who loves listening to recordings of shamanic songs, was pierced by a spirit’s arrow and became gravely ill. The Songs were her relatives' attempt to rescue her from this dire situation.
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The Hadza foragers of Tanzania, one of the world’s few remaining hunting and gathering populations, are currently experiencing large scale shifts in their ecological, nutritional, and socio-political landscapes. Climate change, increased interaction with aid organizations, heightened participation in ethnotourism, and the expansion of wildlife conservation areas have led to conspicuous changes in their identity, patterns of subsistence, and degree of market integration. Despite a long standing (and ever growing) interest in conducting research among the Hadza, very few data are available on how such changes are impacting subsistence and mobility. Here, I discuss my recent trip to Tanzania where I worked with Hadza community members who acted as data collectors and research informants. We collected baseline information on ecological change, land rights, food and water insecurity, and the implications of sharing an ever-shrinking amount of land with an ever-growing number of people (both from within their community and outside). These data not only act to dispel the myth that foragers remain immune to the products and processes of modernization, but also contextualize contemporary variation in subsistence regimes and highlight the resiliency that foragers exhibit in the face of change.