Chapter

The Variety of Fertility Cultism in Amazonia: A Closer Look at Gender Symbolism in Northwestern Amazonia

Jonathan D. Hill

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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520228511.003.0003
The Variety of Fertility Cultism in Amazonia: A Closer Look at Gender Symbolism in Northwestern Amazonia

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This chapter examines the prevalence of male hierarchy and exclusiveness in terms of “marked” and “unmarked” fertility cults in Amazonia. Marked fertility cults are those in which male rituals exclude women; symbolically preempt their generative powers; and separate mothers from children. Unmarked cults conduct rituals that link children and mothers through the reproductive process and connect parents and children, men and women through symbolic vocabulary. The chapter demonstrates the complex interweavings of masculinity and femininity in the sacred rituals and intercommunity-exchange ceremonies. In male and female initiation rituals, the construction of metaphorical connectedness is projected outwardly into the external world of peoples, communities, species, and regions of the cosmos. Finally, the chapter suggests that the distinction between marked and unmarked fertility cultism is essentially a reflection of different processes of constructing male ritual hierarchies in contradistinction to everyday social relations characterized by relatively egalitarian relations between men and women.

Keywords: fertility cultism; masculinity; femininity; Amazonia; social relations; ritual hierarchies

Chapter.  11374 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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