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Knowing the Day, Knowing the World

Engaging Amerindian Thought in Public Archaeology

Lesley Green and David R. Green

Publication Year: 2013

Based on more than a decade of research in Palikur lands known as Arukwa in the state of Amapá, Brazil, Knowing the Day, Knowing the World reconsiders the dialogue between formal scholarship and Amerindian ways of knowing. Beginning and ending with a public archaeology project in the region, the book engages head-on with Amerindian ways of thinking about space, time, and personhood. Demonstrating that Palikur knowledges are based on movement and a careful theorization of what it means to be present in a place, the book makes a sustained case for engaging with different ways of knowing. It shows how this kind of research can generate rich dialogues about nature, reality, and the ethical production of knowledge.
The structure of the book reflects a gradual comprehension of Palikur ways of knowing during the course of field research. The text enters into the ethnographic material from the perspective of familiar disciplines—history, geography, astronomy, geometry, and philosophy—and explores the junctures in which conventional disciplinary frameworks cannot adequately convey Palikur understandings. Beginning with reflections on questions of personhood, ethics, and ethnicity, the authors rethink assumptions about history and geography. They learn and recount an alternative way of thinking about astronomy from the Palikur astronomical narratives, and they show how topological concepts embedded in everyday Palikur speech extend to different ways of conceptualizing landscape. In conclusion, they reflect on the challenges of comprehending alternative cosmologies and consider the insights that come from allowing ethnographic material to pose questions of modernist frameworks.

Published by: University of Arizona Press


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pp. 1-1

Title Page, Dedication, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-6

List of Illustrations

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pp. vi-7

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pp. vii-viii

What dialogues are possible between different ways of knowing? Is different knowledge necessarily cultural, and is “indigenous knowledge” only translatable as a cultural version of an already established discipline such as “ethnoastronomy” or “ethnophilosophy”? ...

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Acknowledgments and a Note on Authorship

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pp. ix-xii

This book could not have been written, nor the fieldwork completed, without the strenuous efforts of David Green, who, by the time the volume was ready for press, had recorded, transcribed, and translated over 4,000 minutes of Palikur narrative. ...

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Introduction: “The Things Left in the Ground” : Introducing Archaeology to Arukwa

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pp. 1-27

We found the bomber after a few days of walking, lying quietly in five or six large pieces in the flittering shadows of the trees on the ridge of Wakayri Mountain, attended by a troop of spider monkeys that chased us away with large rotten branches that they aimed with alarming precision from the treetops. ...

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1. “Are You Here?” : Personhood, Presence, Knowledges, and Knowing

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pp. 28-50

“You should teach her to greet,” called Kiyavwiye João Batista to David as we passed his house, some days after we had arrived. Machete in hand, he was standing on the moss-covered slope in the shadow of his house on the main path through Kumene on the Rio Urucauá. ...

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2. “So Many Stories on This Day-World” : History as the Retracing of Tracks

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pp. 51-78

After we had filmed the remains of the B-26 bomber on Wakayri Mountain in 1997, David and I made our way home to Kumene Village in Kiyavwiye Floriano’s canoe, with Ivailto, Avelino, and Luciano poling and paddling alongside with their hunting dogs perched on the prow of their dugout. ...

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3. Journeys with the Rain Stars: Making Sense of the Moving Cosmos

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pp. 79-141

Learning about star knowledge in Arukwa, in the beginning, seemed a relatively straightforward matter: trace the local constellations, draw them into star charts, record the stories, and cross-reference them to the rich literature on Amerindian astronomy in lowland South American anthropology from the 1970s to the 1990s.1 ...

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4. The Curvature of Surfaces: Cartesian Space, the Topology of Palikur Grammar, and Consubjective Space

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pp. 142-160

A la espada y el compas, Mas y mas y mas y mas was the caption to a frontispiece portrait of Spanish captain Vargas Machuca in his 1599 volume on his journey to the West Indies: “With the Sword and the Compass, More and more and more and more.”1 For Machuca, getting home with the loot from the “large, rich and bewtiful empyres”2 ...

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5. “Reading the Tracks of the Ancestors” : Resources for Assembling Times Past

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pp. 161-176

“Reading the tracks of the ancestors” is the phrase that, somewhere along the route of the public archaeology project, replaced our initial translation of archaeology as “studying things left in the ground.” The latter phrase seemed to be profoundly significant, although at the time I had no way to explain why it seemed more than merely a different turn of phrase. ...

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6. The Story Trails of Kwap: Archaeology, Provenance, and an Ecology of Predation

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pp. 177-240

Having grappled, in the foregoing chapters, with what it means to be a person who knows; with ways of making history through movement; with an understanding of the sky based on the writhing of the Milky Way in relation to the sun’s path; with the world made not by a container made of space but by interactions, ...

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Epilogue: Beyond Matter Set in Space and Time: Engaging Amerindian Thought in Public Archaeology

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pp. 241-264

“Archaeology is about pinning down objects in space and time in order to say something about a culture in a territory and at a time,” declared an archaeologist at a seminar I attended. Though unconnected with this project, his words reflect an approach to archaeology that privileges laboratory work, with little reflection on either the nouns in the statement: ...


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pp. 265-290


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pp. 291-302


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pp. 303-308

E-ISBN-13: 9780816599059
E-ISBN-10: 081659905X
Print-ISBN-13: 9780816530373
Print-ISBN-10: 0816530378

Page Count: 320
Illustrations: 21 photos
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 865536591
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Knowing the Day, Knowing the World

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Amapá (Brazil : State) -- Antiquities.
  • Amapá (Brazil : State) -- Social life and customs.
  • Archaeology and state -- Brazil -- Amapá (State).
  • Indian cosmology -- Brazil -- Amapá (State).
  • Palicur Indians -- Antiquities.
  • Indian philosophy -- Brazil -- Amapá (State).
  • Palicur Indians -- Social life and customs.
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