Ian Skoggard, HRAF Research Anthropologist, has written the forward to an exciting new publication by Stephen Kidd, Senior Social Policy Specialist at Development Pathways. In Love and its Entanglements among the Enxet of Paraguay: Social and Kinship Relations within a Market Economy, Kidd examines the affective discourse and value systems of the indigenous Enxet people. His analysis focuses on how the Enxet navigate the market economy in Paraguay and the tensions it exerts on their commitment to egalitarianism, generosity, and personal autonomy.
The following is an excerpt from Skoggard’s forward:
I came across Stephen Kidd’s dissertation in the course of my work at the Human Relations Area Files where I index the anthropological literature for our electronic database, eHRAF World Cultures. In my twenty-odd years working at HRAF, I have had the joy and satisfaction of reading some excellent ethnographies of which this was one. Why was it never published? I can only guess. Perhaps it is the small market for South American ethnography, or a young scholar’s doubts and inhibitions about his work. However, I believe a major reason is that a study that placed feelings front and center in cultural analysis was ahead of its time, a few years before the interest in affect and ontology grew sufficiently for publishers to take notice.
In his book, Stephen Kidd proposes the centrality of feelings in his analysis of Enxet culture. He shows how feelings mediate between the world and self, and between social structure and agency. While anthropologists have not been blind to feelings and emotions in their writing, the dominant theories of the twentieth century made little room for them. Feelings have been relegated to an ancillary status—more ephemera than quanta—tangential to the main models used to explain culture. However, the recent affective and ontological turns in the social sciences have turned anthropological theory inside out by emphasizing subjectivity as a key to understanding human sociality and agency.
Read more thoughts from Ian in his book review blog post.
You can also learn more about the Enxet in eHRAF World Cultures.