Native Peoples of South America: A Comparative Ethnography

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Overview
Exercise ID: 1.08
Class size: Any
Level(s): III
Source: Submitted by HRAF member


Learning Objectives

Does the exercise compare 2 or more cultures? Yes
Subject selection: Multiple subjects specified by teacher
Subjects/OCMS, if applicable:
Region selection: pre-selected
Region, if applicable: South America
Culture selection: Student chooses from pre-selected list
Cultures/OWCs, if applicable: Any cultures in South America
Samples:

Classroom Guide

Instructions for navigating eHRAF included? No
Assignments for students to complete in groups? No
Assignments for students to complete on their own? Yes
Instructions for Microfiche version? Yes
 

Howard Kress, Department of Anthropology, University of Connecticut at Storrs

The following project is used in an anthropology course on the Native Peoples of South America. The project is designed to be a comparative ethnography. The questions were written to match the topics covered in Betty Meggers’ Amazonia: Man and Culture in a Counterfeit Paradise (Smithsonian Institution, 1996). The students are to collect information on two societies in order to conduct a cross-cultural comparison. Final papers should be a comparison of the two cultures with emphasis on similarities and differences between the groups. Students are encouraged to produce their own hypotheses regarding why there may be differences in human adaptations in Amazonia. All the data collected by the students is then compiled, by the instructor, to test Meggers’ hypothesis that the local environment is the ultimate determinant in cultural adaptations.

1. Your Name ____________________________________________________

2. Name of Society ________________________________________________

3. Location of Society ______________________________________________

4. OWC Culture Code ___________________

5. Time Period ________________

Instructions

This sheet is to be used for data collection. Each listed question should be answered in one to four paragraphs depending on the amount of information in the eHRAF World Cultures database. (You can also use the microfiche collection, if it is available at your institution’s library). Answers can be placed on this sheet or on a separate sheet depending on space needs. The final project will need to be typed. To fill the sheet out you need to:

1. List your name

2. The name of the society you are coding

3. The location of the society. The location should include what river the society is near and in what country they reside in.

4. The OWC code is a unique culture code for each society. A list of the culture names and OWC codes can be found in the Regions and Subsistence menu at the HRAF home page.

Editor’s Note: Because culture or society names may vary and change over time, each society/culture is assigned an OWC code. The OWC code is a four character alpha-numeric code derived from the classification scheme presented in the Outline of World Cultures (OWC). The first letter of each OWC code represents a region of the world and is useful to know when you see a culture name but you are not sure to what region it belongs to. For example, the Bororo (an indigenous people of Brazil) are assigned the OWC Code SP08. The “S” denotes the region where the Bororo are located–in this case South America. The Bororo may also be referred to by alternative names or constituent units (also called ethnonyms) such Biriune, Bejoses, Acione, Arauira, or Aravira.  The ethnonyms might be very different names, but they all have the same OWC code and link to a common culture name. Also note that a list of ethnonyms is usually located in the brief Culture Summary in the Browse Cultures menu of eHRAF
World Cultures..

5. The time period refers to when the information on the society was recorded.

The questions should be answered in paragraph form. I would prefer that you do not just copy what is written, rather summarize the material in your own words. If you copy what is written please place the prose within quotation marks so that I know that you copied what an author had written. In all cases, give the reference to the source from which you obtained your information and the page numbers. (For the microfiche, you may use just the source number, the author, and the page numbers.)

Some of the questions may not be answerable with the information provided in the eHRAF World Cultures database. If that is the case you need to indicate that you could not find information on the topic.

1. What is the environment like?

A. Do the people live near a major river (Amazon, Negro, Orinoco, Napo, or Xingu, etc.)?

B. How much rainfall does the area receive?

C. Do the people make houses along the river or in highland areas?

D. What sorts of dwellings are made by this society? Are there men’s houses? Menstrual huts? Or other special dwellings/structures?

E. What are the ranges in temperature?

HRAF Subjects and/or OCM Codes to use:

130 GEOGRAPHY
131 LOCATION
132 CLIMATE
160 DEMOGRAPHY
161 POPULATION
340 STRUCTURES
341 ARCHITECTURE
342 DWELLINGS
343 OUTBUILDINGS
344 PUBLIC STRUCTURES
346 RELIGIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL STRUCTURES
360 SETTLEMENTS
361 SETTLEMENT PATTERNS
362 HOUSING

Editor’s Note: The HRAF Subjects and/or OCM Codes retrieve concepts rather than keywords at the paragraph level of the full-text in the eHRAF database. The 3-digit OCM Subject Codes ending with ‘0’ are rather general topics (e.g., 130 Geography) and may retrieve fewer search results (see above).  OCM Subject Codes containing numbers ‘1-11’ in their third and forth digits (e.g., 131 Location or 132 Climate) are more specific topics and usually retrieve more search results.

2. How and what do the people collect for food?

A. Do the people grow crops? Or do they just collect from the forest?

B. Who grows the crops, women or men? What are the gender roles in crop production and collection?

C. What sort of meat is collected (terrestrial animals, birds, fish, turtles, insects, and arboreal mammals)?

D. Who collects the meat? Be as specific as you can, including information on age, gender, and number of people involved in a hunt/fishing excursion.

E. What sort of weapons are used in the collection of meat (bow and arrow, spear, blowgun, fish nets, hook and line, fish poison)?

F. Who prepares the food for eating? Men or women, or both? What are the gender roles for food preparation?

HRAF Subjects and/or OCM Codes to use:

220 FOOD QUEST
221 ANNUAL CYCLE
222 COLLECTING
223 FOWLING
224 HUNTING AND TRAPPING
226 FISHING
240 AGRICULTURE
250 FOOD PROCESSING
252 FOOD PREPARATION
311 LAND USE
410 TOOLS AND APPLIANCES
411 WEAPONS
412 SPECIAL TOOLS
460 LABOR
462 DIVISION OF LABOR

3. Does the group participate in any type of warfare?

A. With whom is the group fighting with? Are they fighting other members of their own group or are they raiding adjacent tribes/groups?

B. How is the group fighting? Are they participating in large-scale battle or are they engaged in raids (going off in small groups to kill one or two of the enemy)? If you are not sure of the type of warfare, just describe what is written.

C. Who goes out to war (age, gender and class if present)?

D. If mentioned how frequently does the society go to war? This may be difficult to discern from the record but try to get a notion of how often they go out to kill other people.

E. Are trophies collected during or after a warfare event (i.e. collect heads, scalps, ears, or other body parts; women; or land/resources)? Describe what is captured and how it is used.

HRAF Subjects and/or OCM Codes to use:

720 WAR
721 INSTIGATION OF WAR
725 TACTICS
726 WARFARE
727 AFTERMATH OF COMBAT
728 PEACE MAKING

4. What types of ceremonies and rituals are present in the society?

A. Describe all the ceremonies listed for the society. Be sure to mention what sorts of activities take place in the ceremony, duration or the ceremony, and what the ceremony is for.

B. What are the ages of the participants?

C. At what time of year do the ceremonies take place? Are there any special events that trigger these ceremonies (first kill, full moon, etc)?

D. Are there different ceremonies for boys and girls? Men and women?

E. Who conducts the ceremony, that is, who is in charge of the ceremony?

F. If mentioned, have the ceremonies changed since contact with modern societies?

HRAF Subjects and/or OCM Codes to use:

276 NARCOTIC USAGE
292 SPECIAL CLOTHING
293 PARAPHERNALIA
780 RELIGIOUS PRACTICES
782 PRAYER AND SACRIFICE
782 PRAYER AND SACRIFICE
783 PURIFICATION AND ATONEMENT
784 AVOIDANCE AND TABOO
788 RITUAL
789 MAGIC

5. What types of personal decoration and adornment are present in the society?

A. Do the people wear distinctive clothing or decorate themselves in a special manner? These sorts of markers include headdresses, arm and leg bands, septum piercing, ear and lip plugs, subincision, circumcision, body painting, hair cutting and any other distinguishing mark that might be mentioned.

B. When are these distinguishing marks placed on members of the society?

C. Are the markings different for women and men?

D. Are there different markings for children and adults?

E. Are there specific initiation ceremonies mentioned? If so describe the ceremony in full detail.

HRAF Subjects and/or OCM Codes to use:

301 ADORNMENT
304 BODY ALTERATION
561 SOCIALIZATION
796 CEREMONIAL ATTIRE
852 CEREMONIAL DURING INFANCY AND  CHILDHOOD
880 ADOLESCENCE, ADULTHOOD, AND OLD AGE
881 PUBERTY AND INITIATION
883 ADOLESCENT ACTIVITIES
861 TECHNIQUES OF SOCIALIZATION
864 SEX TRAINING
865 AGGRESSION TRAINING
866 INDEPENDENCE TRAINING
867 TRANSMISSION OF CULTURAL NORMS
868 TRAINING OF SKILLS
869 TRAINING OF BELIEFS

View the eHRAF User Guide for help with how to use the database and the OCM thesaurus for a list of all OCM subjects.

Citing eHRAF documents

You should include a standard bibliographic reference for the material, i.e.
Appadurai, Arjun
1996 Modernity at Large: Cultural Dimensions of Globalization.
Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Don’t forget to include page numbers when citing material in the text! You should also include the basic retrieval statement for an on-line database: Retrieved [month day, year,] from [source] on-line database ([name of database], [item no.–if applicable]).