Part I: The Xingu Indigenous Park in Central Brazil
Chapter 1, “When 1 + 1
2. Making Mathematics in Central Brazil,” describes
mathematics activities among the Juruna, Kayabi, and Suyá of Central Brazil.
I show how arithmetic practices are fashioned in the specific social setting of the
Xingu Indigenous Park in the 1980s. Values and symbolic properties of both the
gift-exchange and capitalist economics structure mathematics problems in the area.
Within a broad social field that transcends the boundaries of the park to include
prospecting sites and cattle ranches, economic calculations are extended to all kinds
of goods, both material and symbolic. The distribution and circulation of these
different forms of capital are discussed in view of the constitution of particular
arenas of exchange. Practice theories highlight the ways in which mathematical
knowledge is constituted in everyday activities, challenging functional assumptions
about cognition and schooling. By articulating principles of the gift with those of
capitalist exchange, mathematics is construed by the Juruna, Kayabi, and Suyá as a
product of social work and symbolic fashioning.
Chapter 2, “Shamanic Map-Making in The Brazilian Amazon. The Suyá
People of the Xingu Indigenous Park,” explores shamanic map-making in
central Brazilian court cases involving land tenure since the end of the country's
military dictatorship in 1985. It explores the status of Indigenous Peoples'
critical knowledges and practices in judicial reports elaborated by several
anthropologists. Previous court reports were designed by military officers,
engineers, and their close allies. In an attempt to regain possession of ancestral
territories illegally occupied by large farmers, gold miners, and multinational
companies in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s, political and ceremonial leaders of the
Suyá, Kayapó, Kayabi, and Juruna peoples of the Xingu Indigenous Park have
evoked the power of humans and also of certain animals over the environment,
its goods and resources.
Part II: The Land-Without-Evil in Southern Brazil
In Chapter 3, “Tupi-Guarani Apocalyptic Visions of Time and the Body”, Guarani
children of southern Brazil who live off garbage dumps subvert the people's
cultural order by turning the future into the present in their role-playing activities.
While the Tupi-speaking Guarani adults believe that severe hunger and scarcity
are necessary conditions for the passage to the Land-Without-Evil, the kids
suggest that the mythic paradise can be a mundane reality. Miniature vegetable
gardens and toy truckloads of food create the “divine abundance” featured in the
promised land. Non-Indigenous graveyard diggers and missionary preachers are
transformed into Guarani warriors and prophets by young shamans, who blow
tobacco on improvised dolls. The children's critique of human society bears
witness that the high incidence of infant mortality can transform the people's
apocalyptic visions of time and the body, because it calls for major changes