Emotivity and excess of spirits in the Andes

Óscar Muñoz Morán


In the Quechua community of Coipasi (Bolivia) relations between the living and the dead (almas—souls) swing between excess and containment, remembrance and distancing. The aim of this article is to show that the emotivity of the spirits plays a fundamental role in these relations. Like all matters pertaining to the nature of spirits, this emotivity is excessive but also, and most importantly, it appears to the extent that the souls of the dead feel alienated from family and community social practices. This is reflected in the local notion of “nonremembrance” (mana yuyacunchu). I therefore suggest that an ethnography of the emotivity of spirits offers a better understanding of such common concepts in the anthropology of the Andes as commensality, excess, and the very notion of the soul.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/719236