Ethnology of Indigenous prophetic movements in the South American Lowlands: An overview

Virgínia Amaral


This article introduces the translation of Manuela Carneiro da Cunha’s atricle “Logic of myth and action: The Canela Messianic Movement of 1963” in Hau 13 (2). Analyzing the relationship of the structural inversion between prophetic events that irrupted among the Canela people in the past and a myth of theirs that thematizes colonialist asymmetry, Carneiro da Cunha aimed to validate Lévi-Strauss, who suggested that the meaning of ritual actions could be identified in their dialectical relationship with a mythical structure. Carneiro da Cunha’s text has become paradigmatic among anthropological studies of Indigenous prophetic movements in the South American Lowlands, which are discussed in this article. I demonstrate that some of the theoretical problems addressed by her fifty years ago remain relevant, having reverberated in later and contemporary readings, albeit with some reformulations.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/726658