Past events

RAI Research Seminar: Paolo Fortis
Wednesday 29 May 2013
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Artefacts and bodies among Kuna people from Panamá

Dr Paolo Fortis, Durham University

Wednesday 29 May at 5.30 pm

This paper draws on current debates on Amerindian theories of materiality and personhood to reflect on what Kuna people from Panamá think when they make particular artefacts. Looking at the meaningful connections between such different activities as wood-carving, sewing clothes, weaving and making babies it is argued that the prototype of making among the Kuna is the making and growing of the human body. Artefacts, as children, are considered the visible manifestation of their maker’s praxis. Similarly to the capacity of women and men to make babies, making objects is considered a form of fertility, which consists of the acquired capacity of giving shape to different materials. Furthermore, form (sopalet), as the product of making (sopet), is apprehended as emerging and growing subjectivity.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked.  To book tickets please go to

Paolo Fortis' book Kuna Art and Shamanism: An Ethnogrpahioc Approach (University of Texas Press) will be launched at the event.  The book will be available for purchase at a reduced price at the event.  This can also be ordered at a reduced price by dowloading the flyer here.