Joy within tranquility: Amazonian Urarina styles of happiness

Harry Walker


Enjoyment in life among Amazonian Urarina is examined through the lens of two contrastive concepts of happiness. The first, “tranquility,” is a relatively long-term, relational condition implying emotional spontaneity and a flexible, freely chosen work routine that allows for a merging of action and awareness. It epitomizes a broader concern with the development of an individual “style of life,” where attitudes, manners, and actions come into alignment. The second concept, “joy,” is a fleeting state of excitement and anticipation, epitomized by the prospect of sharing a meal. While the two concepts imply a distinction between the sensuous and the moral, or pleasure and the good life—loosely analogous to the classic distinction between hedonia and eudaimonia—it is argued that the experience of joy in its purest form effectively crystallizes and intensifies many of the ingredients that make up tranquility, thus resolving the tension by suggesting the possibility of harmony between sensory enjoyment and virtuous living.


tranquility, happiness, style of life, individuality, nonalienated labor, Amazonia

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.14318/hau5.3.010