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Narratives of the Invisible

Autobiography, Kinship, and Alterity in Native Amazonia

Vanessa Elisa Grotti and Marc Brightman

Shamanic knowledge is based on an ambiguous commensality with invisible others. As a result, shamans oscillate constantly between spheres of intimacy, both visible and invisible. A place of power and transformation, the spirit world is rarely described by native interlocutors in an objective, detached way; rather, they depict it in terms of events and experiences. Instead of examining the formal qualities of accounts of the spirit world through analyses of ritual performance and shamanic quests, we focus on life histories as autobiographical accounts in order to explore what they reveal about the relationship between personal history (and indigenous historicity) and the spirit world. We introduce the term ‘double reflexivity’ to refer to processes by which narratives about the self are produced through relationships with alterity.

Free access

Paul H. Gobster

What does ecological restoration mean in an urban context? More than half of the world’s population now lives in cities, and in response to the dynamic patterns of urbanization, a growing number of ecologists, land managers, and volunteers are focusing their efforts in and around cities to restore remnants of natural diversity (Ingram 2008). Ecological restoration is still a quite youthful field, yet many scientists and practitioners hold a relatively fixed set of criteria for what defines a successful restoration project, irrespective of where sites are located. Among the criteria commonly stated, sites should be composed of indigenous species, have a structure and diversity characteristic of currently undisturbed or historically documented “reference” sites, and be maintained through ecological processes such as fire that ensure long-term sustainability with minimal human assistance (Ruiz-Jaén and Aide 2005; SER International 2004). Application of these criteria has led to many ecologically successful restorations, but some ecologists in the field have begun to question whether the same standards can be realistically applied to sites such as those within urban areas that have been radically altered by past human activity (e.g., Martínez and López-Barerra 2008) or are being influenced by novel conditions that result in unpredictable trajectories (Choi 2007). Perhaps more significantly, it is becoming increasingly recognized that the broader viability of restoration projects, especially those in urban areas, hinges on how socially successful they are in gaining public acceptance for restoration activities and practices, building constituencies to assist with implementation and maintenance, and addressing a broader set of sustainability goals that reach beyond the protection of native biodiversity (e.g., Choi et al. 2008; Hobbs 2007; Rosenzweig 2003).