The power of thoughts, the stench of blood. Hematology and gender in the Amazon

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Abstract

This paper lays the grounds for an Amazonian haematology aiming to unlock the significance of blood with relation to gender, knowledge, and cosmology. Drawing guidance from Overing's critique of patriarchy theory and her examination of Piaroa understandings of menstruation, it explores cross-cultural ideas about the embodiment and gendering of spirits, thought and strength in the blood, arguing that blood is conceived as a relationship for it transports knowledge to all body parts, both uniting and differentiating men and women, and constituting the pivot of a person's existence along his or her lifecycle. Through an examination of indigenous practices of diet and seclusion, it shows that blood management stands at the core of Amazonian health. Bleeding is a female prerogative and an embodied remembrance of the primordial incest between Moon and his sister, which founds human memory and kinship. Nevertheless, men may be "like women" when they find themselves under the revenge of their enemy's blood, similar to women under the revenge of Moon. Bleeding sets fertility in motion, opening the communication between daily and other cosmological time-spaces, and exposing both genders to the threat of transformational multiplicity, alienation and death. Its interlacing with shamanism is therefore fundamental.
Original languageAmerican English
Pages (from-to)205-243
Number of pages39
JournalRevista de Antropologia
StatePublished - 1 Jan 2006

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