The Gender of Some Amazonian Gifts: An Experiment with an Experiment

Stephen Hugh-Jones

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:
The Gender of Some Amazonian Gifts: An Experiment with an Experiment

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Amazonian and Melanesian ethnography takes “gender” to be a fixed, unitary, and relatively unproblematic attribute of persons. For Amazonia and Melanesia, both intra- and interregional comparisons compare like with like, flute cults with flute cults, exchange with exchange. This chapter builds on this analysis with reference to exchange, using some ethnography from the Xingu region of central Brazil as a comparative counterpoint. Northwest Amazon cults are not so much about gender differences and male domination as they are a reflection on the nature of men and women, male and female. The flutes and their attendant cults signify a “generalized capacity to reproduce, which men and women share.” Furthermore, the chapter briefly overviews Amazonian myths that account for the origins of the flutes and trumpets used in initiation. The experiment with an experiment is a relational approach to gender, derived from Melanesia, to the men's secret cults of the northwest Amazon.

Keywords: gender; Amazonia; Melanesia; cults; gender differences; experiment with experiment

Chapter.  16966 words. 

Subjects: Anthropology

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