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Mythology, Spirituality, and History

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Volume 1

Arakmbut of Amazonian Peru

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Mythology, Spirituality, and History

Andrew Gray

352 pages, 3 halftones, 4 maps, 17 tables, 8 figs, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-57181-876-8 $145.00/£107.00 / Hb / Published (September 1996)

ISBN  978-1-57181-835-5 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (August 2003)

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"... splendid and innovative ethnography ... highly topical, well written, intellectually highly interesting, and often avant-garde ... sophisticated and honest discussions ..."  · Joanna Overing, London School of Economics


The Arakmbut are an indigenous people who live in the Madre de Dios region of thesoutheastern Peruvian rain forest. Since their first encounters with missionaries in the 1950s,they have shown resilience and a determination to affirm their identity in the face of many difficulties. During the last fifteen years, Arakmbut survival has been under threat from a goldrush that has attracted hundreds of colonists onto their territories. This trilogy of books traces the ways in which the Arakmbut overcome the dangers that surround them: their mythology and cultural strength; their social flexibility; and their capacity to incorporate non-indigenous concepts and activities into their defence strategies. Each area is punctuated by the constant presence of the invisible spirit, which provides a seamless theme connecting the books to each other.

Following the Arakmbuts' recommendation, the author uses their three greatest myths to introduce social, cultural and historical aspects of their lives. He ends with a discussion of the relationship between myth and history showing how the Arakmbut recreate their myths at the dramatic moments of their history.

Buy all three volumes for 20% discount

Andrew Gray was, until his untimely death in 1999, Tutor in Social Anthropology at the University of Oxford. He was also a leading activist in indigenous rights, advising the Forest Peoples Programme and the International Working Group for Indigenous Affairs (IWGIA) among other organizations.

Subject: Anthropology (General)Anthropology of ReligionDevelopment StudiesLiterary Studies
Area: Latin America and the Caribbean


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