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The prophet and the principal: the Amerindian political action and its characters

Abstract

The prophet and the principal: Amerindian political agency and its characters - this book (a revised and quite modified version of my PhD dissertation) focuses on the relationship, among the ancient Tupi of Brazilian coast, between prophetism and political domain. It returns to some classic discussions that play an important role in anthropology's history, as those carried out by Pierre and Hélène Clastres; the former hardly engaged on the foundation of a political anthropology. Comparing data of past societies (coming from a certain historiography) with recent ethnography of contemporary indigenous peoples, this book proposes an investigation on Amerindian political agency, stressing the ways on which singular and collective subjects ("persons" and "groups"), leaders and sociopolitical units can be produced as well as regarding the mechanisms which offer resistance to the stabilization of all these entities, stabilization that could result in a fixed asymmetry. The following text is divided in three parts - six chapters and a Prologue. The first part proposes a critical revision of Pierre and Hélène Clastres' works as well as a reinterpretation of the ethnological and historical analysis of the Tupi-Guarani groups in 16th and 17th centuries. The second part focuses on the figure of war leaders and the collectives they compose. The third part considers the role of shamans and prophets in the process of constitution and dissolution of collectives, lightening the relationship between prophetisms and political agency. (AU)

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