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Comparative Arawakan Histories

Rethinking Language Family and Culture Area in Amazonia

Jonathan D. Hill

Publication Year: 2002

Before they were largely decimated and dispersed by the effects of European colonization, Arawak-speaking peoples were the most widespread language family in Latin America and the Caribbean, and they were the first people Columbus encountered in the Americas. Comparative Arawakan Histories, in paperback for the first time, examines social structures, political hierarchies, rituals, religious movements, gender relations, and linguistic variations through historical perspectives to document sociocultural diversity across the diffused Arawakan diaspora.

Published by: University of Illinois Press

Title Page

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Copyright Page

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Table of Contents

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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-viii

The chapters in this book were written in 1999 and 2000 in preparation for the international conference “Comparative Arawakan Histories: Rethinking Language Family and Culture Area in Amazonia,” organized by Fernando Santos-Granero and Jonathan D. Hill. ...

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pp. 1-22

Comparative Arawakan Histories is the first attempt to bring together the writings of ethnologists and historians who have specialized in the study of the Arawak-speaking peoples of South America and the adjacent Caribbean basin. Speakers of Arawakan languages are best known to the general public as the first indigenous Americans contacted by Columbus in 1492. ...

Part 1: Languages, Cultures, and Local Histories

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1. The Arawakan Matrix: Ethos, Language, and History in Native South America

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pp. 25-50

The relationship between language and culture has been the subject of much speculation in Western philosophy and social sciences. In the recent past, the tendency has been to contest the one language–one culture hypothesis implicit in the writings of eighteenth-century German philosopher Johann G. Herder, ...

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2. Arawak Linguistic and Cultural Identity through Time: Contact, Colonialism, and Creolization

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pp. 51-73

This chapter is concerned with the basis of linguistic classifications, the particular history of how the linguistic classification “Arawakan” worked culturally in the region of northeastern South America during the colonial period, and the pitfalls that process presents to the uncritical identification of sociocultural relatedness on the basis of such categories. ...

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3. Historical Linguistics and Its Contribution to Improving Knowledge of Arawak

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pp. 74-96

The purpose of this chapter is to discuss the method of historical linguistics that can be used to improve our knowledge of Arawakan languages, Proto- Arawakan, its subgroupings, and relationships with other language groups. Arawak is introduced in the second half of this chapter as the term used to refer to the genetically related languages ...

Part 2: Hierarchy, Diaspora, and New Identities

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4. Rethinking the Arawakan Diaspora: Hierarchy, Regionality, and the Amazonian Formative

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pp. 99-122

The Arawak, or Maipuran, languages were the most widely distributed language family in South America—perhaps in all of the Americas—in 1492.1 Arawakan peoples were spread from southern Brazil to as far north as Florida and from the sub-Andean Montaña of Peru and Bolivia to the mouth of the Amazon. ...

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5. Social Forms and Regressive History: From the Campa Cluster to the Mojos and from the Mojos to the Landscaping Terrace-Builders of the Bolivian Savanna

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pp. 123-146

For a long time an old field note of mine referring to a Matsiguenga group that claimed the self-designation of Mojos has been demanding my consideration. Our reflection on the Arawakan diaspora gives me the opportunity to do it. After some preliminary clarification on the claim suggested by this self-designation, ...

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6. Piro, Apurinã, and Campa: Social Dissimilation and Assimilation as Historical Processes in Southwestern Amazonia

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pp. 147-170

While I was doing fieldwork among the Piro (Yine) and Campa (Asháninka) people of the Lower Urubamba River in eastern Peru, my understandings of much of what I saw and was told ran along tracks laid down by my reading of the literature. As I have discussed elsewhere, the production of my own data ...

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7. Both Omphalos and Margin: On How the Pa'ikwene (Palikur) See Themselves to Be at the Center and on the Edge at the Same Time

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pp. 171-196

It is now acknowledged that the Conquest meant not only the immediate decline or extinction of some Native South American societies, but the growth, albeit short-term, of others in respect of territory, trade, and political and military power (Dreyfus 1992; Whitehead 1993a, 1994; Arvelo-Jiménez and Biord 1994). ...

Part 3: Power, Cultism, and Sacred Landscapes

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8. A New Model of the Northern Arawakan Expansion

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pp. 199-222

When we observe the number of languages that belong to the northern Maipuran groups and their wide distribution in South America, several questions arise regarding the location of ancestral areas, the characteristics and causes of this population dispersal, the processes of linguistic and ethnic differentiation, ...

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9. Shamanism, Colonialism, and the Wild Woman: Fertility Cultism and Historical Dynamics in the Upper Rio Negro Region

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pp. 223-247

This chapter has two interrelated goals. First, I will explore the concept of culture area as it developed in the ethnology of Lowland South America in the twentieth century and suggest ways in which the concept can be retheorized to restore its utility in current anthropology. ...

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10. Secret Religious Cults and Political Leadership: Multiethnic Confederacies from Northwestern Amazonia

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pp. 248-268

The contemporary Baré and Warekena are two Arawak-speaking groups that inhabit several townships of the Upper Guainía–Rio Negro region in the Venezuelan Amazon (map 10.1). There are about 600 Warekena and 2,000 Baré in Venezuela, who are part of a macroregional sociopolitical system ...

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11. Porphetic Traditions among the Baniwa and Other Arawakan Peoples of the Northwest Amazon

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pp. 269-294

This chapter explores prophetic traditions among Arawak-speaking peoples of the northwest Amazon seeking, through a comparative and historical view, to determine what seem to have been critical elements of the Baniwa religious imagination that came to be expressed in historical prophetic movements. ...

References Cited

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pp. 295-326

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pp. 327-330

Peter Gow teaches in the Department of Social Anthropology at the London School of Economics and Political Science. He is the author of Of Mixed Blood: Kinship and History in Peruvian Amazonia (1991) and has done ethnographic and historical research with the Piro and neighboring indigenous peoples of eastern Peru for the past fifteen years. ...


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pp. 331-340

E-ISBN-13: 9780252091506
Print-ISBN-13: 9780252073847

Page Count: 352
Publication Year: 2002