Women's Blood, Warriors' Blood, and the Conquest of Vitality in Amazonia

Beth A. Conklin

in Gender in Amazonia and Melanesia

Published by University of California Press

Published in print November 2001 | ISBN: 9780520228511
Published online May 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520935815 | DOI:
Women's Blood, Warriors' Blood, and the Conquest of Vitality in Amazonia

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This chapter draws a parallel between Amazonian rituals of death and life to the killing of people, and how people can transcend or regulate biological forces of morbidity and mortality. A number of ethnographers have noted that the South American warriors' seclusion involves cultural ideas and practices similar to those surrounding menstruation, pregnancy, or childbirth. A key link between the experiences of women and of warriors is the idea that all these processes involve blood flowing across body boundaries, and that the individual must control or deal with this blood properly. The chapter focuses on the notions of body, power, and gender invoked by the enemy killing rites. “Pseudo-procreative” imagery is a recurrent theme in initiation rituals worldwide and in men's maturation rituals in particular. Finally, thw chapter emphasizes that men's rituals cannot be analyzed in isolation. Female and male rites are interrelated, so that analysis should focus on this complex whole.

Keywords: Amazonian rituals; cultural ideas; warriors; blood; pseudo-procreative imagery; rites

Chapter.  16393 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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