which they build houses, paint their bodies, reckon kinship, plant crops, cook and
exchange food, bury their dead, and classify animals and outsiders, Indigenous or
not. Cosmologies are dynamic systems of classification, also known as taxonomies,
which in the case of the Xavante worldview reveals an incredible organizing force
that has enabled this vibrant society to re-structure itself in light of an escalating
situation of advanced capitalism - also known as globalization.
A journey into general ideas and principles of Xavante mathematics can, in turn,
enlighten basic notions of arithmetic, such as what is meant by “number,” “1,” “2,”
“adding 1,” and so on. Once considered too simple and primitive to be defined,
these notions became hotly debated topics among various mathematicians during the
20th century. An assessment of the philosophy of number of dialectical societies has
rarely, if ever, been brought into question.
Figure 5.5. Xavante women prepare to gather fruit in the cerrado. Ri'tubre Village, 1978.
THE XAVANTE IN HISTORY: MAPPING TIME, SPACE, AND THE BODY 4
The Xavante Indigenous People of the state of Mato Grosso, Central Brazil, were
first encroached upon by Salesian Catholic missionaries, and by timber and mining