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Answering Daimã's Question

The Ontogeny of an Anthropological Epistemology in Eighteenth-Century Scotland

Peter Gow

This article seeks to describe the social preconditions of the emergence of science in Scotland since the Enlightenment and what came to be unknown in the process. It addresses the way in which the geologist James Hutton generated a specific category of 'men of scientific observation' as opposed to 'men of common observation'. In doing so, he, like other Enlightenment thinkers, transformed an existing spatial ordering of social relations into a temporal one. This formed one of the early steps in the development of a genuinely anthropological epistemology, whereby knowledge of the human lies with the 'primitive' other and with his or her knowledge of the world. Anthropology is thus the scientific observation of common observation and, as Lévi-Strauss pointed out, a specific form of common observation.

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Peter Gow and Margherita Margiotti

In this article, the authors explore the meanings of fortune among two peoples of Greater Amazonia. Luck, chance, and destiny play little role in the ethnographic record of this extensive region, and it is worth asking why this should be so. Two ethnographic cases are presented—the Kuna of Panama and the indigenous people of the Bajo Urubamba River in Peruvian Amazonia. The first describes what the ethnographer finds instead of elaborated discourses of luck and destiny in the Kuna conception of the person, while the second examines why the people of the Bajo Urubamba do not make use of such notions, which they are aware of from neighboring Andean people. The article concludes by looking at wider correlates of the Greater Amazonian concept of luck and the person in forms of social transmission and subsistence choices.