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Animal Myths and Metaphors in South America
Edited by Gary Urton
Anthropology / Folklore Studies
What similarities and differences do humans see between themselves and animals? Why do people commonly make metaphorical comparisons between animals and human beings or social groups, and to what degree are people’s attitudes and beliefs about animals dependent on their attitudes and beliefs about humans and society? This collection of articles considers these issues, which are basic in any study of "totemism" or human and animal relationships. They have been discussed in anthropological literature since the field’s earliest days as a distinct discipline.
The contributors to this anthology look beyond a traditional anthropological focus on clans and moieties as sources and objects of metaphorical comparisons between humans and animals. They shift perspectives toward conceived similarities and differences between animals and types of human beings or stages of human life. For example, macaw fledglings have been equated with adolescents, pumas with fully initiated men, and foxes with young married men. This shift of emphasis produces a significantly different analysis of human-animal relations.
Gary Urton is the Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies and Chairman of the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University. He is the Director of the Khipu Database Project at Harvard.
Table of Contents:
Introduction – Gary Urton
My Brother the Parrot – J. Christopher Crocker
Animal Symbolism, Totemism and the Structure of Myth – Terence Turner
Tapir Avoidance in the Colombian Northwest Amazon – Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff
The House of the Swallow-Tailed Kite: Warao Myth and the Art of Thinking in Images – Johannes Wilbert
The Lion in the City: Royal Symbols of Transition in Cuzco – R. Tom Zuidema
Animal Metaphors and the Life Cycle in an Andean Community – Gary Urton
The Metaphoric Process: "From Culture to Nature and Back Again" – Billie Jean Isbell
Praise and Reviews:
“Indispensable to folklorists concerned with South America, and to anyone with an interest in metaphor, the human life course, symbolism, and (ethno)zoology. The volume brings the symbolic relationship between animals and human society vividly to life through the presentation of the dimension and richness of native perceptions and theories, as well as the dynamic perspective taken by the contributors. The volume is a fine example of serious scholarship, particularly important in its examination and appreciation of indigenous thought and cultural systems.”
“Anthropologists, sociolinguists, folklorists, mythologists, and historians of religion will find much in Animal Myths and Metaphors in South America that is useful, significant, and provocative.”
—Journal of Anthropological Research