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Andean and Amazonian visual and sensorial worlds

Recent contributions
University of Sao Carlos (Brazil), 15-16 April 2010.

A symposium with Dr Aristoteles Barcelos Neto (SRU) and Professor Els lagrou (University of Rio de Janeiro).

During the last ten years, a systematic exploration of visual and sensorial worlds has allowed Amerindian ethnology to illuminate classic anthropological themes, such as the relations between persons and objects and the articulations between visible and invisible aspects of lived worlds. This symposium explored these themes by comparing two Amerindian regions, the Amazonian and Andean world, which rarely enter into dialogue.

Recently, there has been a renewed, but still nascent interest in comparative studies of the Andes and Amazonia. Built on different intellectual traditions, the anthropologies of the Andes and Amazonia still lack a common language from which a broader body of questions can circulate. Of special importance is the elaboration of alternative analytical and thematic perspectives to avoid the antagonism between Lowland and Highland South America, a legacy of previous studies predominantly focused on political economy and cultural ecology. This symposium focused, rather, on approaches to the Andes and Amazonia from the visual and sensorial worlds that Amerindians frequent and create.

The following themes suggest different ways to begin a new dialogue. The creation and destruction of objects as spatial-temporal processes; the conceptual overlapping of materiality, embodiment and agency; the use of objects and images as producers of memory; the intersemiotic relations between visual, musical and verbal systems, especially in the field of ritual performance; synaesthetic experiences and the ways of seeing, hearing and sensing the universe; ethnographic and archaeological theories about figuration, abstraction and image and their socio-cosmological unfolding; the interpretation of systems of objects as populations and their implication for Amerindian socialities; the uses and meanings of foreign objects; the possible relations between surfaces and graphic patterns: patterns can constitute surfaces or they can build up, adhere or transform pre-existing surfaces.