The book by the anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros De Castro

It says The jaguar’s gaze. Introduction to Native American Perspectivism the volume by Eduardo Viveiros De Castro published by Meltemi. Translated by Cecilia Pamplenizza collects a series of interviews published by the author on various topics held together by the indigenous question, with the aim of expanding as much as possible the knowledge of relationships, communities and worlds experienced by an infinite number of different and unique peoples and ethnic groups to subjectivize cultures. The task of anthropology is to overturn the idea of ​​the Other, of the Elsewhere as something to be measured through the Western and colonial gaze, in order to enter into a constellation of relationships that sees other cultures not as objects of a dominant theory, but as possible subjects treated , interlocutor of a more comprehensive theory of social and cultural relations.

Indigenous peoples and animism

Western culture tends to deny the soul, the subjectivity of the world, making it an object to be examined and controlled. Viveiros De Castro emphasizes that despite everything, we Westerners are still animists because we believe that man has a soul. “We are no longer as animistic as they were native peoplewho believe that even animals, plants and even stones have a soul“. Here a perspective of subjectification emerges, that is, knowledge focuses on a variety of related topics. Brazil is the context in which the author’s gaze moves, and he specifies: “I am not interested in the indigenous people as part of Brazil, but in the indigenous people and nothing more; For me, if something is part of something, Brazil belongs to the context of indigenous cultures and not the other way around.” The essay is also a journey of discovery, of creating new perspectives on worlds and topics that have liberated and emancipated the indigenous question from mass folklore , to which it is still reduced in many parts of the Western world. The scholar quotes Mario Juruna And Ailton Krenak were among the first indigenous leaders able to ignite a narrative and political struggle outside of local disputes and create a constitutional recognition anchored in the principle that indigenous communities are collective subjects of collective rights. The individual, the indigenous person, gives way to the community and creates a relational, collective, transindividual dimension. “Today the country’s urban population, which has always been ashamed of the existence of indigenous peoples in Brazil, is able to treat each other with a little more respect because everyone here is indigenous.”

Eduardo Viveiros De Castro, The Jaguar’s Gaze. Introduction to Indian Perspectivism, Cover, Meltemi, Sesto San Giovanni, 2023

A new anthropological perspective

Viveiros De Castro therefore outlines a new anthropological perspective, a method of relationship and study capable of overcoming the completely Western separation between nature and culture and creating a new cosmogony, a world in which everyone is indigenous and it, inspired by his mythologies, manages to recreate a primal community in which “Everyone is an animal, it’s just that some (beings, species) are more animal than others; We humans are obviously the least animalistic of all.” This also opens up a new ecology defined by the fact that Western civilization has taken directions that are unnecessary, if not destructive, to the survival of the human species. We have to change course. Taking up the ideas of the French philosopher Gabriel TardeThe author underlines that the environment is a society of societies, a whole in which each diversity is complementary and vital and which takes the form of both a social fact and, above all, an ecological, ecological reality. “Ecology is that: evaluating the place. “Socio-ecological diversity is the prerequisite for a rich life, a life capable of articulating the greatest possible number of differences.”. We must change our lives and our way of life and undermine a capitalist system that is based on the principle of surplus and makes us desire what we do not have. Against the acceleration of growth, Viveiros De Castro proposes a greater range of living and habitation opportunities on the planet through the free circulation of economic, cultural, social and vital differences. Indigenous communities represent a wealth that does not need to be converted to the Western model, but rather a diversity that needs to be carefully cultivated for the present and future.

Marco Petroni

Eduardo Viveiros De Castro, The Jaguar’s Gaze. Introduction to Native American Perspectivism
Meltemi, Sesto San Giovanni 2023
Translation by Cecilia Pamplenizza
Page 234, €18.00
ISBN 9788855197892

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