Ethnicity in Ancient Amazonia: Reconstructing Past Identities form Archaeology, Linguistics, and Ethnohistory
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A transdisciplinary collaboration among ethnologists, linguists, and archaeologists, Ethnicity in Ancient Amazonia traces the emergence, expansion, and decline of cultural identities in indigenous Amazonia.
Hornborg and Hill argue that the tendency to link language, culture, and biology--essentialist notions of ethnic identities--is a Eurocentric bias that has characterized largely inaccurate explanations of the distribution of ethnic groups and languages in Amazonia. The evidence, however, suggests a much more fluid relationship among geography, language use, ethnic identity, and genetics. In Ethnicity in Ancient Amazonia, leading linguists, ethnographers, ethnohistorians, and archaeologists interpret their research from a unique nonessentialist perspective to form a more accurate picture of the ethnolinguistic diversity in this area.
Revealing how ethnic identity construction is constantly in flux, contributors show how such processes can be traced through different ethnic markers such as pottery styles and languages. Scholars and students studying lowland South America will be especially interested, as will anthropologists intrigued by its cutting-edge, interdisciplinary approach.
regional settlement pattern can be seen in the juxtaposing of large mainstream sites having deep levels of ceramic phases persisting over many centuries of human occupation, with numerous smaller settlements in interfluvial uplands showing evidence of frequent interruptions and site abandonments (see Neves and Petersen 2005; Heckenberger, this volume; Neves, this volume). The ethnography of lowland South America includes many examples of dual settlement patterns, or seasonal alternations between
pattern in the dates: oldest in the upper Madeira, fairly old on Marajó Island, and consistently more recent as one moves upstream from the lower to the upper Amazon (Evans and Meggers 1968; Hilbert 1968; Simões 1974; Herrera, Bray, and McEwan 1980– 1981; Brochado and Lathrap 1982; Meggers and Evans 1983; Simões and Kalkmann 1987; Simões and Lopes 1987; Heckenberger, Neves, and Petersen 1998; Schaan 2001a, 2004; Neves and Petersen 2006). Can the Polychrome expansion along the floodplain of the
residential mounds that were inhabited from the seventh to the twelfth centuries AD are interpreted as the manifestation of an Arawak-based regional system not unlike others described in the literature. The sudden changes in the archaeological record of the area, associated with the replacement of Paredão by Guarita and with modifications in settlement patterns, are interpreted as indicating the arrival in the area of another ethnic group with origins in southwestern Amazonia, the upper Madeira
roughly equidistant to the north-south and east-west of the exemplary center, which defines the core area of a territorial polity with peripheries defined by smaller plaza settlements (less than 10 ha). 8. Several radiocarbon dates from disturbed contexts suggest even earlier occupations, but the cultural affiliation of these is unknown. References Aikhenvald, Alexandra Y. 1999. “The Arawak Language Family.” In The Amazonian Languages, edited by R. W. Dixon and A. Aikhenvald, 65–106. Cambridge:
style have been made by archaeologists working on the lower Madeira, since this is a type of ceramics that can elsewhere (particularly along the Río Negro) be correlated with a presence of Arawak speakers. We have not found clear evidence regarding the languages spoken on the lower Madeira at the time of European contact, but whether the native inhabitants here spoke Arawak or Tupí, they were obviously more or less annihilated by this meeting. Alongside the Guarita ceramics, the long stretch of