Once conceptualized as self-evident connections between discrete
social units systematized through ethnographic fieldwork, relations
are being increasingly treated as instantiations of local ontological
theories. The ethnography of indigenous South America has provided a
source of inspiration for this analytical shift. As manifested in the contributions
to this special issue, at the core of indigenous practices and discourses
on relations lies a tension between ‘dependence on otherness’
and an ‘ethics of autonomy’. In this introduction, we revisit this tension
by focusing on the ‘taming of relations’, a process through which subjects
attempt to maintain the autonomy of each being vis-à-vis their
relational constitution dependent on others. We argue that rather than
being a necessary condition, autonomy is always a partial outcome of
relations linking human and non-human others.
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