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Itinéraires belges aux amériques. Actes du premier colloque de la Société des Américanistes de Belgique. Éditeurs: Peter Eeckhout & Jaques Malengreau. Civilisations vol.1, N°1-2

 

ABSTRACTS [ pdf version ]

 

Serge Lemaitre

THE INHABITANTS OF THE ORNATE ROCKS OF CANADA

Since the first lime of research in rock art in the Canadian Shield, Natives talk about Maymaygwashiuk, the little hairy people. After a short text about a meeting of a Native and the Little People, the author analyses how the Maymaygwashiuk look like, how they live, their role as intercessors and what is the connection between rock paintings and their « fairies ». He concludes that the Maymaygwashiuk are well connected with Thunder and Thunderbirds and notes that if anthropological analyses do not bring right explanations, these analyses put the archaeologist on the right way of pertinent interpretations.

 

Olivier Servais

SOURCES FOR THE HISTORY OF JESDITS MISSIONS TO THE OJIBWAS lN THE 19TH CENTURY: A TRUNCATED LOOK

In this paper, we examine the ethno-historical approach on "the Meeting between Ojibwa natives and Jesuits missionaries in the 19th". In a first time, we inform against the 17th century, by showing how this period and its missionary letters had a bad influence on the history of the 19th. In a second time, we'll survey the tree kind of sources for this history : Jesuits, Ojibwa and the Others, especially ethnographic studies, in order to display some of the future challenges for the research in that field.

 

Rik Pinxten

NAVAJO COSMOLOGY AND OCCIDENTAL COSMOLOGY

The comparative study of cosmologies is a particular comparative approach: I want to concentrate on basic intuitions in a particular domain of an entire culture. These intuitions can be interpreted as premises which differ from culture to culture. In the description and comparison of cosmologies of Navajo Indians and western people, the relevance of such an approach is obvious, I think. The description of intuitions implies interpretative work: the data are not raw, but they are constructed and reached after long mutual negotiations between informant and ethnographer. Also, this interpretation happens in the context of two cultures in mutual contact: my claim is that the data and the views are doubly biased. Anthropological knowledge is situated and contextual for two subjects coming from two different cultures. The result of their interactions is what we call anthropological knowledge. The case on cosmological notions shows how deep intuitions differ and how interactive comparison is intrinsically part of that knowledge.

 

Michel Duquesnoy

WHO DWELLS IN THE ROCKY FOREST OF SAN MIGUEL TZNINAPACAN, SIERRA NORTE DE PUEBLA, MEXICO? ELEMENTS OF REFLEXION ABOUT NATURE AND APPEARINGS IN A NAHUA GROUP

For the Nahua in the Sierra Norte de Puebla, the natural environment, an aquatic siege of the nourishing reign of Talokan, appears as an exceptional space. A lot of beneficial and/ or malicious extra-human beings encounter man through his works or his adventures in the emerald green of a surprising natural complex. These encounters do not leave anyone unconcerned though perfectly "normal" and integrated into the cosmological discourse. Far from being casual, some significant elements must imperatively translate them. The shamans, as indigenous magic world specialists, interpret those events by setting them into an original cosmovision, a necessary condition to its fierce fight against threatening emptiness and chaos.

 

Monica Minneci

WHEN MYTHOLOGY ENTERS POLITICAL PROP AGANDA'S SERVICE: THE TALE OF THE MEXICA PEREGRINATIONS

The Mexicas knew perfectly that the heterogeneity of their empire was a threat for its future. In order to give consistency to this intricate gathering of small cities-states, a materially strong central power with an ideology accepted by all was necessary. The Mexicas tried to reach this goal by manipulating mythology. For example, they transformed the tale of the migrations of the different people of Mexico. In their version, they present themselves as the only tribe with courage, humility, and respect for the gods, the other people being described as lacking religious faith. The message is clear: the Mexicas were the only one who could keep the world functioning by feeding the sun and the earth with human sacrifices. Therefore, the military campaigns they led constantly to obtain sacrificial victims were entirely justified.

 

Michel Graulich

THE VICTIMS OF AZTEC HUMAN SACRIFICE

The victims of Aztec sacrifice were mostly war prisoners taken on the battlefield according to precise rules. After their symbolical integration into the city, they died, assimilated to game and to the mythical Mimixcoas, in order to nourish mainly the sun and the earth but at the same time they atoned for their sins and won a glorious afterlife. Are also examined the other great categories of victims: slaves, children, people condemned to death, free persons, several marginals who expiated impersonating deities and reviving deities.

 

Geneviève Le Fort

COSTUME AND SACRED KINGSHIP AMONGST THE CLASSIC PERIOD MAYAS: THE "NETTED" COSTUME

Costuming is an important chapter in the study of Classic Maya sacred kingship because the ruler occasionally wears the attires characteristic of the god he momentarily personifies. The "netted costume", with its skirt symbolizing the earth's surface, is a very interesting one. It is worn by the Maize God on the painted ceramics and can be related to various myths telling the birth of the deity. On monuments, it is worn mainly by women, generally the king's mother. With the large snake she often holds in her arms, she may be dancing for rain and maize, as it is still performed in some communities today.

 

Dirk Van Tuerenhout

MAYA WARFARE: SOURCES AND INTERPRETATIONS

This paper reviews the sources modern researchers use to study Maya warfare. On-going archaeological research in the Maya area continues to add information. Painted and carved representations of conflict also add to the corpus of data that needs to be analyzed. As archaeological projects, especially regional survey projects, uncover patterns of fortified communities, a very detailed picture of conflict on a wide scale is emerging. Brief descriptions of fortified communities in bath the Maya Lowlands and Highlands are provided, with special emphasis on the Petexbatun region in northern Guatemala. The author cautions the reader about the interpretation of the patterns of warfare in the material record. The paper ends with a discussion of seasonality and other limiting factors of warfare.

 

Didier de Laveleye

THE CROSSCULTURALITY AND THE « POPULAR » CULTURE IN BRAZIL. ETHNOLOGY OF THE CELEBRATION OF THE BUMBA BOl

The Americanism interrogates itself more and more on the phenomena of crossculturality initiated with the conquest of the continent, prolonged with the African slave trade and today seemingly reactivated with the « globalization ». After having placed the discussion in the framework of what I consider to be a paradigmatic revolution of the Cultural Studies, centered on the question of the relevance of the cultural cutting out of the humanity, I propose to observe the cultural blending in a new perspective. In the light of an ethnographic example of a « popular » Brazilian celebration in the Maranhao, the Bumba Boi, I invite the reader to grasp in this demonstration the place of production and reproduction of the social ties which constitute a society and which allow to understand a culture. Two mechanisms are participating in this process : first, the deconstruction of the « popular » traditional comedy by the actors themselves, allow them to understand the terms which are at the basis of their problematic identity in front of the national myth of the « three races » of Brazil (the White, the Indian and the Black); secondly, the appropriation of the theatrical play by the companies whose goal is to perform the dance of a mask to « pay a promise» to St John, allows the reorientation of the cultural fate of this demonstration in the way of stability and tradition in the long term.

 

Jacques Malengreau

FROM THE SALT OF THE EARTH TO THE RICE OF THE STALLS: BETWEEN REGIONAL AUTONOMY AND DOMESTIC DEPENDENCY IN THE ANDES OF CHACHAPOYAS (PERU)

The former reds of regional exchange of the middle Utcubamba and high Imaza at the North of Chachapoyas (Andes of Northern Peru) were based on redistributive and reciprocal practices of an interfamilial type beyond the borders of the village communities. The salt of a regional mine to which the various families of different communities of the area had access played an important dynamic role in those exchanges which were parts of a larger relatively equalitarian clientelistic red. But some local intermediaries used the salt and diverted the barter towards more individualistic and commercial aims, independently of central state restrictions imposed on the exchange of the local salt. The process gave way not only to a modification in the nature and in the quality of the exchanges of goods and services. It also contributed towards a decline in the regional and communitarian solidarities and to a loss of domestic and familial autonomy in relation to the market. However, the inhabitants resist, chiefly in a family framework, to this deprivation of their economy by combining commercial innovations, external migrations and autarkical withdrawals in one unique strategy which allows them to get access to new services and goods and to original opportunities without loosing in the meanwhile some control on their environment.

 

Peter Eeckhout

MONUMENTS, TIME AND POWER. LABOR FORCE AND THE STRUCTURE OF RULERSHIP AT P ACHACAMAC, CENTRAL COAST OF PERU

How much represented the construction of an ancient building, in terms of labor force? How much time did it last? How many people were involved? 50 many questions that naturally come to mind when one see those amazing monuments. I shall try to answer it here through the exposition and study of the case of Pyramid with ramp n° III-B at Pachacamac. Thanks to fieldwork, we could establish that the building was constructed in less than 6 months, probably by turning corvées of about 200 people working some thirty 5-hours day, and during the first decade of the 15th century of our era. This relative quickness perfectly fits with the general model of functioning of the pyramids at Pachacamnac, interpreted as so many successive palaces, because it suggests that the deceased ruler's heir only waited a few time for having a residence of his own. On the other hand, data related to the organization of labor provide substantial information on the structure of local rulership during the pre-Inka period.