The rhythm of life on the Amazon floodplain: seasonality and sociality in a riverine village

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Abstract

This article explores the relationship between seasonality and sociality in a village of caboclos (Portuguese-speaking peasants of mixed descent) on the banks of the River Amazon. The aim is to revive Mauss's initial attempt to treat seasonality as intrinsic to the current and quality of social life, rather than simply as part of a framework of external environmental constraints. However, Mauss's argument was stuck in the contradictions generated by a strong nature/culture dichotomy. Contemporary dissolutions and revisions of this dichotomy provide the opportunity to return to Mauss. I shall argue that in the case of floodplain dwellers of the Brazilian Amazon, seasonality is constituted by the movements of people and the rhythmic structure of their social activities, which resonate with and respond to periodic changes in their floodplain environment. I conclude that this environment can be seen as work in motion, in which people's activities are a crucial part of that work, and seasonality is the periodicity of the creative movement itself.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)65-82
Number of pages18
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Volume4
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Mar 1998

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