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Upper Perené Arawak Narratives of History, Landscape, and Ritual

Elena Mihas

Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
Imprint: University of Nebraska Press
Published: 12/2014
Pages: 416
Subject: Social Science
eBook ISBN: 9780803265295


Published through the Recovering Languages and Literacies of the Americas initiative, supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation The rich storytelling traditions of the Alto Perené Arawaks of eastern Peru are showcased in this bilingual collection of traditional narratives, ethnographic accounts, women's autobiographical stories, songs, chants, and ritual speeches. The Alto Perené speakers are located in the colonization frontier at the foot of the eastern Andes and the western fringe of the Amazonian jungle. Unfortunately, their language has a slim chance of surviving because only about three hundred fluent speakers remain. This volume collects and preserves the power and vitality of Alto Perené oral and linguistic traditions, as told by thirty members of the Native community.Upper Perené Arawak Narratives of History, Landscape, and Ritual covers a range of themes in the Alto Perené oral tradition, through genres such as myths, folk tales, autobiographical accounts, and ethnographic texts about customs and rituals, as well as songs, chants, and oratory. Transcribed and translated by Elena Mihas, a specialist in Northern Kampa language varieties, and grounded in the actual performances of Alto Perené speakers, this collection makes these stories available in English for the first time. Each original text in Alto Perené is accompanied by an English translation, and each theme is introduced with an essay providing biographical, cultural, and linguistic information. This collection of oral literature is masterful and authoritative as well as entertaining and provocative, testifying to the power of Alto Perené storytelling.  


Elena Mihas is a postdoctoral associate in anthropological linguistics at James Cook University in Australia.     


"A sophisticated and interesting discourse-centered approach to culture that can serve as a model for integrating linguistic and sociocultural anthropology, this collection demonstrates how much cultural variability exists within and among the various indigenous communities of the Upper Amazon region."—Jonathan Hill, author of Made-from-Bone: Trickster Myths, Music, and History in an Amazonian Community