Conocimiento Ancestral: The Amazonian Social Relation to Nature

An Open Access Environmental Humanities Digital  Project

This project seeks to understand the Amazonian relation to nature by recording Amazonian Kichwa, Achuar and Wao Tededo language narratives about the land and its species.   The links below lead to short videos of testimonies, stories, and songs about nature.  Our method is to interview knowledgeable individuals in the forest setting where their memories are activated by the plants and animals they see. The videos are edited from these longer interviews to exemplify key aspects of Kichwa thinking about nature. Although the subtitle are set to English they can be changed to Spanish or Kichwa by clicking the settings icon. Because our approach is anthropological linguistics much of our recent focuses on the Kichwa language itself as the vehicle through which the relations to nature is shaped and expressed. 

"The study of Amazonian languages is of fundamental relevance to anthropologists. Not only is linguistic understanding a critical part of the participant-observer paradigm, but it informs our understanding of culture in profound ways, and vice versa, as captured in the Boasian model and in Hockett’s dictum (1973:675) that “linguistics without anthropology is sterile, anthropology without linguistics is blind"

The Languages of Amazonia by Patience Epps,  and Andrés Pablo Salanova, Tipiti, Volume 11, 2013

Watering the Earth with Tears:  The Social Relation to Nature

Contents

     

     Introduction 

     Relatives who went away: On the origins of species diversity

     The resulting related world

      Trees and Forests

      Rain and rivers

      Thunder

      The Sky, Sun, Moon and Stars

A Body Shared with Land

     Childhood: Establishing the boundaries of a shared body 

                     Fragile boundaries: children in forest narratives       

     The pull across boundaries: Adolescence and the seductive forest

     Forests and gardens as extensions of the female body 

          Waranga Flower Woman

     The male body

     Ancestors in land:  Death as crossing the boundaries,

     

Human Beauty and the Beauty of the Land

     Connecting lines: painting the land on the body

     Ceramic art: The visualizing of patterned nature

     Perfumed Wind: the local smell of a healthy body

          Breath, Wind, and Wind sickness

Language and Forest Relations  

     Singing with the voice of birds

     Speaking to plants and animals

     Language as social relation

     Evoking the language of the land  Ideophones

     Perspective 

     Humor and the evoking of animal/human similarity 

    Plants that symbolize blood

    Food plants and wild relatives

    Drinking bitter barks

    Trees Awake at Night

Search by Species

    Plants   

    Birds

    Mammals

    Reptiles

    Invertebrates

    Butterflies

Ecological destruction and the Resistance of Forests  

 

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