Geography Reference
In-Depth Information
Details of the saga of the Guarani journey in South America, as this large contingent
of Indigenous People (about 40,000 in Brazil) migrates north and east, always headed
toward the ocean in the direction of the Ywy Marae'y, the Land-Without-Evil, are
detailed in Chapter 3. Guarani migration, however, has been heightened by colonial
oppression: the drastic reduction of their lands and confinement in minuscule areas
now known as formigueiros or ant hills. Nothing survives in these dry, parched
and garbage-filled lands except ants. Losing control of the land where they hunted,
planted their crops, raised their children and buried their dead meant, to several
Guarani communities, the coming of a cataclysm. In reaction to this crisis, the
Guarani of southern Brazil are known for setting off in huge migratory movements
always headed north, having the Atlantic Ocean as a guiding reference (H. Clastres
1995, Ferreira 2002a).
And here is how and why cultural hegemony works so efficiently to oppress
Indigenous Peoples, and particularly the Guarani and other Tupi-speaking peoples
throughout Brazil. Guarani cosmology entails an austere life-style to reach spiritual
transcendence and migration toward the Land-Without-Evil, where the land provides
fruit without being sowed. Such an ascetic way of life, however, is grounded in
fasting and a distaste for the “temptations” of civilization, including the so-called
benefits of sedentary agricultural life. Brazil's policies towards Indigenous Peoples,
following the United States' American Indian laws, have been predicated on the
fatalist assumption that the “natives” will eventually assimilate into the broader
national society or eventually die. Thus, the dominant cultural hegemony takes its
toll since the Guarani accept the state-imposed hunger and scarcity as a necessary
condition for transcendence, rather than a genocidal act toward their extinction.
Genocide, the intent to kill a certain population, is thus inscribed onto the Guarani
body, insofar as the Guarani “accept” their demise because it makes sense to undergo
hunger and scarcity to reach liberation. However, in Chapter 3 and 4, we shall see
how Guarani youth have reacted against this predicament by becoming agents of their
own destinies. Guarani youth now realize that sickness and premature death impair
the ability to transcend the finite existence of humankind on this bad and destructible
world, to the infinitude of the Land-Without-Evil. As seen in Chapter 3, Guarani
children reveal how they have chosen to battle inequality, recreate reciprocity, and
reinvent Guarani apocalypse by placing their bodies on the line, mapping their own
history. They write on and with their bodies what Westerners usually write onto
paper, and even most recently, onto virtual, social-media worlds or “second lives.”
Today, Indigenous Peoples number more than 370 million individuals and live in
more than 90 different countries on every continent. 7 They have inherited and retained
social, cultural, economic, and political characteristics that are distinct from those of
the dominant societies in which they live. In some countries, such as Ecuador and
Bolivia, Indigenous Peoples form the majority of the population; in others, including
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