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Remembering to Forget: Identity, Mourning and Memory Among the Jivaro

Anne Christine Taylor
Man
New Series, Vol. 28, No. 4 (Dec., 1993), pp. 653-678
DOI: 10.2307/2803991
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2803991
Page Count: 26
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Remembering to Forget: Identity, Mourning and Memory Among the Jivaro
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Abstract

In Jivaroan culture, relations to the dead are predicated upon a paradoxical configuration: while remaining individualized, the recently deceased are actively and thoroughly `disremembered' by the living, who must suppress from memory their name, image and history. At the same time, it is from the forgotten dead that the Jivaro acquire a singular identity. They inherit from them a unique shape taken from the closed, unchanging set of faces and names that constitutes `mankind', and receive from them an indeterminate yet objectified existential trajectory. Dealing with two forms of loss, that of kin murdered in the course of intra-tribal feuding and that of people killed in inter-tribal head-hunting raids, the article focuses on the cognitive aspects of mourning as a process of disremembering; it traces the transformation of consciousness experienced by the living and projected upon the dead that underlines the Jivaroans' relationship with the past members of their society. Drawing on comparative data, it concludes by exploring the way styles of historical conscience and discourse are shaped by forms of interaction with the dead.

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