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Feeding (and Eating)

Reflections on Strathern's 'Eating (and Feeding)'

Carlos Fausto and Luiz Costa

Drawing on Marilyn Strathern's comparative insights on eating and feeding, we explore the difference between giving food and eating together in Amazonia. These two elementary modes of alimentary life have often been conflated in the Amazonian literature. We distinguish between them by asking what these acts produce, what agentive capacities and perspectives they evince, and what kind of relationships they configure.

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The Return of the Animists

Recent Studies of Amazonian Ontologies

Luiz Costa and Carlos Fausto

The ethnography of lowland South American societies has occupied a central place in recent debates concerning what has been called the 'ontological turn' in anthropology. The concepts of 'animism' and 'perspectivism', which have been revigorated through studies of Amerindian ontologies, figure increasingly in the ethnographies of non-Amerindian peoples and in anthropological theory more generally. This article traces the theoretical and empirical background of these concepts, beginning with the influence of Lévi-Strauss's work on the anthropology of Philippe Descola and Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, and proceeding with their impact on Amazonian ethnography. It then investigates the problems that two alternative traditions—one combining a cognitivist with a pragmaticist approach, the other a phenomenological one—pose to recent studies of Amazonian ontologies that rely on the concepts of animism and perspectivism. The article concludes by considering how animism and perspectivism affect our descriptions of Amerindian society and politics, highlighting the new challenges that studies of Amerindian ontologies have begun to address.