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Department of Social Anthropology



My research focus on the Arapaso, an Indigenous people from Northwest Brazilian Amazonia, and their notion of loss.  This small group of around 200 people tells in their mythology how they abruptly lost almost all of their population, as well as their language and other ancient knowledge. In this paradigmatic event, which dates back to the time when the Arapaso still were a large and warlike population, they recount how their constant conflicts with other neighboring peoples meant that almost everyone in the group became bewitched and driven to commit suicide in a hole filled with molten resin.

Through an analysis of the Arapaso’s mythic-historical narratives, spatial perceptions and social relations with other neighbouring groups, I study how they articulate their idea of loss in a spatio-temporal manner, as well as how this idea turns into a well delimited concept in specific times when the group has to position itself among others (Indigenous and non-Indigenous).

Since for something to be considered lost it must first be considered owned, the notion of loss in the Arapaso context expands into broader anthropological debates around the notion of person and social unity (the "owner") and the notion of property and culture (the "owned"). These debates, along with the anthropological literature on Amazonian peoples, are the main areas that inform my research.

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