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Ownership and Nurture: Studies in Native Amazonian Property Relations

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Ownership and Nurture

Studies in Native Amazonian Property Relations

Edited by Marc Brightman, Carlos Fausto, and Vanessa Grotti
Foreword by James Leach

284 pages, 21 illus., bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-083-4 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (May 2016)

ISBN  978-1-78920-754-5 $29.95/£23.95 Pb Published (February 2020)

eISBN 978-1-78533-084-1 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $29.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“It is rare that a book comes along that manages to sum up an entire field while pointing provocatively in new directions. Ownership and Nurture is such a volume, and the feat is all the more impressive since it is an edited collection. The introduction alone is worth the price of purchase, but the nine case studies that follow are delightful in their engrossing details, theoretical sophistication, and broad coverage of indigenous Amazonia’s diversity.” • Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute (JRAI)

“What results from these contributions that are so different and varied is that the question of the rulers and property in indigenous Amazonia is still open for discussion. But this is what makes this volume so very interesting.” • L’Homme

“The book under review, a fascinating and valuable volume applying current models from Amazonian anthropology to the classic anthropological theme of property and belonging, explores the articulation in native societies around two concepts: ownership and nurture…The major issues the book deals with are of great interest for material culture studies and cultural rights management…the case studies presented in this volume – carefully contextualized and with meticulous attention to detail – contribute to thinking about the possession of human persons, animals, knowledge, land and things at the  crossroads of a wide-reaching comparative spectrum.” • Social Anthropology

“This volume has the immense merit of reconfiguring conflicts as what they really are: primarily a negotiation between two cultures, a ‘problem of translation’ rather than a confrontation between societies without property and a world order that risks, without wanting to, losing the differentiation within the concept for the Amazonian societies.” • Journal de la société des américanistes

"The chapters of this book constitute valuable studies both for their ethnographic findings and for their theoretical insights.• Anthropos

“The ethnographies close… culminating a unique and important challenge to conventional conceptions of property and ownership in Western society. They… definitively demonstrate that ownership and property are not foreign to indigenous or ‘traditional’ societies, that… ownership and property are diverse and culturally constructed notions. These insights are welcome in anthropology and should alter how we think about and research objects and economic practices in ‘traditional’ and modern societies alike.” • Anthropology Review Database

Ownership and Nurture makes a stimulating contribution to general anthropological theory and to specific recent debates in lowland South American ethnology. . . I have no doubt it will provoke lively and engaged debate.” • Kathleen Lowrey, University of Alberta


The first book to address the classic anthropological theme of property through the ethnography of Amazonia, Ownership and Nurture sets new and challenging terms for anthropological debates about the region and about property in general. Property and ownership have special significance and carry specific meanings in Amazonia, which has been portrayed as the antithesis of Western, property-based, civilization. Through carefully constructed studies of land ownership, slavery, shamanism, spirit mastery, aesthetics, and intellectual property, this volume demonstrates that property relations are of central importance in Amazonia, and that the ownership of persons plays an especially significant role in native cosmology.

Marc Brightman is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Bologna.

Carlos Fausto is Professor of Anthropology at the Museu Nacional, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, and Senior Fellow of the National Council for the Development of Science and Technology (CNPq).

Vanessa Grotti is Part-time Professor at the Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute.

Subject: Anthropology (General)
Area: Latin America and the Caribbean


List of Figures

James Leach


Introduction: Altering Ownership in Amazonia
Marc Brightman, Carlos Fausto and Vanessa Grotti

Chapter 1. Masters, Slaves, and Real People: Native Understandings of Ownership and Humanness in Tropical American Capturing Societies
Fernando Santos-Granero

Chapter 2. First Contacts, Slavery and Kinship in Northeastern Amazonia
Vanessa Grotti and Marc Brightman
This chapter is open access under a Creative Commons Attribution International License (CC BY)

Chapter 3. Fabricating Necessity: Feeding and Commensality in Western Amazonia
Luiz Costa

Chapter 4. Parasitism and Subjection: Modes of Paumari Predation
Oiara Bonilla

Chapter 5. How Much for a Song? The Culture of Calculation and the Calculation of Culture
Carlos Fausto

Chapter 6. The Forgotten Pattern and the Stolen Design: Contract, Exchange and Creativity Among the Kĩsêdjê
Marcela Stockler Coelho de Souza

Chapter 7. Doubles and Owners: Relations of Knowledge, Property and Authorship Among the Marubo
Pedro de Niemeyer Cesarino

Chapter 8. Ownership and Wellbeing Among the Mebêngôkre-Xikrin: Differentiation and Ritual Crisis
Cesar Gordon

Chapter 9. Temporalities of Ownership: Land Possession and its Transformations Among the Tupinambá (Bahia, Brazil)
Susana de Matos Viegas


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