When the Xingu Indigenous Park was officially created in 1961 by the federal
agency Serviço de Proteç ão aos Índios (Service for the Protection of Indians,
substituted by Funai in 1967), many of the 16 peoples that inhabited what is now the
Baixo Xingu or southern part of the park, including the Aweti, Kalapalo Kamaiurá,
Kuikuro, Mehinaku, Txicão, and Yawalapiti nations, already lived in the area. The
big change for those peoples whose ancestral lands were somewhat incorporated
within the southernmost part of what was then called the Xingu National Park, was
that the demarcated area ended up being 10 times smaller than originally proposed.
Big landowners lobbied heavily in Brasília and succeeded in having the land cut
down to 27,000 square kilometers or 10,425 square miles. 5 Most of its original
inhabitants thus lost huge tracks of land where they practiced an economy of gift-
exchange and a hunter-gatherer form of subsistence. The government's idea was
to also bring into the Xingu Park other peoples whose lands were being sought by
big land developers and corporations, thus freeing those lands for “development.”
The peoples officially brought or lured into the northernmost part of the Xingu Park
in the 1960s and 70s comprised the bulk of the students at the Diauarum School.
These were the Kayabi, Juruna, and Panará nations, joined by the Suyá (whose
lands were later adjoined to the park in the 1999 Wawi court case), and the Kayapó,
whose lands were later included in the Xingu Park and then demarcated as a separate
territory. While the cultures and languages spoken by each one of the 16 peoples
varied considerably (Portuguese soon became the common language), there were
many characteristics that the different nations shared. Amongst them, the economy
of gift-exchange, whose main objective is to distribute goods and services in an
egalitarian fashion instead of the individualized accumulation of capitalism. How
the interplay between gift-exchange and capitalism affected mathematics activities
at the Diauarum School is discussed in Chapter 1.
Mapping the Body: The Body is the Guardian of the Guarani self
Indigenous Peoples' critique of human society does not start or end with colonialism
and capitalism. Nevertheless, colonialism and what is now called neoliberalism
work together to further disenfranchise poor and powerless peoples in Brazil
and across the planet. The way in which this totally globalized, financialized,
and transnationalized 21st century capitalist world-order works, however, varies
slightly but surely in different sociocultural contexts, throughout time and space.
What the Italian philosopher, linguist and journalist Antonio Gramsci defined as
cultural hegemony at the turn of the 20 th century still applies today, 100 years
later. I was fascinated by his Prison Notebooks during the military dictatorship in
Brazil probably because so many people I knew or was related to in one way or
another were incarcerated by the military for being politically active. For one thing,
reading, citing or practicing Paulo Freire's liberatory pedagogy could land us in jail
in a heartbeat. And so it did.