Beinghood and people-making in native Amazonia: A constructional approach with a perspectival coda

Fernando Santos-Granero


This article examines Yanesha notions of beinghood and people-making practices from a constructional standpoint. By focusing on the composition of persons/bodies as a phenomenological process rather than on the nature of the processes by which persons/bodies are socially fabricated, it seeks to reveal the extent to which Yanesha conceptions of personhood differ from those in the Western tradition. Shaped by the works of St. Thomas Aquinas, this tradition conceives of persons as individual, singular, and self-contained beings, both ontologically complete and incommunicable. In contrast, Yanesha regard persons as composites, resulting from the creational, generative, and socializing contributions of a variety of human and nonhuman entities and, therefore, as possessing compound anatomies and subjectivities. The article discusses the contrasts between constructional and perspectival understandings of beinghood, body, and subjectivity in native Amazonia. It proposes that, rather than conflicting theoretical models, these approaches are an artifact of focusing on different levels of social interaction. In other words, they are the result of diverging points of view. This, however, suggests that the richness of Amazonianist theory lies precisely in it being une théorie faite de regards.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.14318/hau2.1.010