UCL Anthropology Working Papers Series
Department of Anthropology
University College London
14 Taviton Street, London
WC1H 0BW, U.K.
Editorial Board: Sara Randall, Martin Holbraad
Working Paper No. 04/2009
Published online November 27, 2009
© Copyright rests with the authors
FOOD, GENDER, AND SHAMANISM: SOCIETY AND COSMOLOGY IN AMAZONIA
Dissertation submitted in 2007 for the BSc Anthropology
This comparative study explores food and notions of the body in Amazonia. Following Viveiros de Castro (1998), it argues that Amerindian ontology is 'perspectival' in that the body is the seat of the individual's point of view. All animals share a human spirit. What differentiates species, however, is their bodies as sets of affects, dispositions and capacities. The central argument is that these bodily affects are constituted by the practices of food production and consumption. These food practices are gendered in Amazonia, and foods as tangible entities encompass parts of those gendered individuals who interact with them. Thus, gender differences and similarities are made socially comprehensible through the gendering of foods. That human and animal species are differentiated through bodily affects, and food in part constitutes these bodily affects, suggests that gender differentiation in food stuffs and practices implies a fundamental difference between the bodily affects of men and women in Amerindian ontologies. This is termed 'gender perspectivism'.