Alexandre Aniceto de Souza – Whitten Research Fund 2023-24

Alexandre Aniceto de SouzaAlexandre Aniceto de Souza

Universidade Federal do Amazonas-UFAM

Winner of the Norm and Sibby Whitten Research Fund 2023-2024

Waiwai komo yîhcamnopura natu cehtoponhîrî komo krapa waiwî poko
Bow and Arrow: Continuity and Waiwai Transformations  

The research site is in the Trombetas-Mapuera indigenous land in the Jatapauzinho community. I will offer some reflections on the knowledge and techniques surrounding the place of the krapa-waiwî (arrow-bow) among the Waiwai. I’m going to talk not only about uses, but also about the processes of production and transmission of knowledge, the search for materials, the domains of the forest, material and immaterial elements. I intend to situate the place that this artefact occupies in the Waiwai worldview, using the concept of the operating chain as a methodological tool to understand and organize Waiwai conceptions of the past and present in relation to the subject of the research. Therefore, the aim is to approach the daily life of this collective in constant transformation, based on their technologies, cosmologies, cosmotechniques, worldviews and mythologies surrounding the bow and arrow. These devices include invisible bodies, as the Waiwai describe them. The elements used and the care they receive to become what they are express parts of a collective whole, made up of various elements and even other forest beings. The Waiwai interact with these beings to build their knowledge and share the agency of their own world. These materials, artifacts and beings make up what we can call Waiwai culture. They are produced in millenary exchanges and are therefore constantly changing, so they persist in accompanying the trajectory of this Amerindian collective. We know that the bow and arrow were once used more frequently and occupied a more central place in exchanges. This is an important transformation that I intend to address, because it involves the very recent history of the Waiwai’s coexistence with the “whites” and their goods. I believe that addressing this process of transformation of my own world, to translate what the Waiwai themselves think, do and say, will be an important contribution to the specialized literature on the Guianas region. But not only that, because I am Waiwai I have a commitment that sets me apart from other anthropologists who have carried out research and produced important theses and articles on the Waiwai, I want to say that this work I am producing is also a thesis for the Waiwai and I am also going to write the results of my research in my own language so that it can be used by Waiwai schools as teaching material. I know that this can lead to many questions from fellow anthropologists, but I am willing to answer whatever is necessary to characterize my work in the context of innovation for the development of anthropology itself.

There are no records detailing the bow and arrow and the meanings of these elements for the Waiwai. In this way, this research is important both for scientific academia, as part of the interest in anthropology, and for the Waiwai population in general. This combination of information can help us to tell part of our ancient stories, and those of different groups of people who lived in different places and geographical regions. The procedure for carrying out this research will be through the processes and tools produced in academia, as well as a bit of Waiwai academia for the formulation of the thesis, through conversations, memories, interviews, monitoring of production and uses, dialogues with various Waiwai specialist interlocutors about the bow and arrow and all the material and immaterial connections with the other beings and elements of the forest.

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