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Journal Article

Poetics and Politics in the Ecuadorean Andes: Women's Narratives of Death and Devil Possession

Mary M. Crain
American Ethnologist
Vol. 18, No. 1 (Feb., 1991), pp. 67-89
Published by: Wiley on behalf of the American Anthropological Association
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/645565
Page Count: 23
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Poetics and Politics in the Ecuadorean Andes: Women's Narratives of Death and Devil Possession
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Abstract

In their recent review of anthropological writing, Marcus and Fischer (1986:84-86) have noted that anthropological analyses of political economy tend to neglect issues of cultural meaning. These authors argue that interpretive anthropology has often elided historical processes and has not always situated its analyses with respect to the broader perspectives of political economy. This article attempts to bridge these concerns by examining narratives recounted by female peasants of highland Ecuador that attribute several recent deaths of male wage laborers to devil possession. Refracted against an expanding global economy, the analysis focuses on the ways in which peasant cosmology and gender and class ideologies are inscribed in these devil narratives and produce meanings that resist the commodification of labor. Through such stories the unofficial voices of peasant women disrupt attempts by commercial farmers to redefine the meaning of work under the new relations of production on local estates. [Ecuador, gender, peasant cosmology, politics of domination and resistance, political economy]

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