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Reviewer Meets Reviewed - Strange Enemies
Tuesday 10 July 2012
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Strange Enemies: Indigenous Agency and Scenes of Encounters in Amazonia

Tuesday 10th July at 10.30 am (tea & coffee served from 10.00am)

Royal Anthropological Institute


The British Museum’s Centre for Anthropology, in collaboration with the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI), is delighted to present a discussion between Dr Aparecida Vilaca author of ‘Strange Enemies: Indigenous Agency and Scenes of Encounters in Amazonia' and Professor Sir Geoffrey Lloyd who reviewed the work for the JRAI.

In the Brazilian state of Rondônia in 1956, a group of Wari’ Indians had their first peaceful contact with whites: Protestant missionaries and officers from the national government’s Indian Protection Service. On returning to their village the Wari’ announced, “We touched their bodies!” Meanwhile the whites reported to their own people that “the region’s most warlike tribe has entered the pacification phase!” Initially published in Brazil, Strange Enemies is an ethnographic narrative of the first encounters between these groups with radically different worldviews.

During the 1940s and 1950s, white rubber tappers invading the Wari’ lands raided the native villages, shooting and killing victims as they slept. These massacres prompted the Wari’ to initiate a period of intense retaliatory warfare. The national government and religious organizations subsequently intervened, seeking to “pacify” the Indians. Aparecida Vilaça was able to interview both Wari’ and non-Wari’ participants in these encounters and here she shares their firsthand narratives of the dramatic events. Taking the Wari’ perspective as its starting point, Strange Enemies combines a detailed examination of these cross-cultural encounters with analyses of classic ethnological themes such as kinship, shamanism, cannibalism, warfare and mythology.

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