By James Howe
The Kuna of Panama, at the present time the best recognized indigenous peoples of Latin the US, moved over the process the 20th century from orality and isolation in the direction of literacy and an energetic engagement with the state and the area. spotting the fascination their tradition has held for plenty of outsiders, Kuna intellectuals and villagers have collaborated actively with overseas anthropologists to counter anti-Indian prejudice with optimistic money owed in their humans, therefore turning into the brokers in addition to topics of ethnography. One group of chiefs and secretaries, specifically, independently produced a chain of ancient and cultural texts, later released in Sweden, that this day nonetheless represent the basis of Kuna ethnography.
As a learn of the political makes use of of literacy, of western illustration and indigenous counter-representation, and of the ambivalent inter-cultural discussion on the middle of ethnography, Chiefs, Scribes, and Ethnographers addresses key matters in modern anthropology. it's the tale of a longer ethnographic come across, one regarding hundreds of thousands of lively contributors on each side and carrying on with today.
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Additional resources for Chiefs, Scribes, and Ethnographers: Kuna Culture from Inside and Out
Sometimes called Niga Gardaduled, “Young Writing Man” or “LetterMan,” Charly may for the moment have more or less monopolized literacy on Nargana, but he was only one among a number of returned sailors, the rest of them mostly unlettered but bi- or trilingual, and almost all open to some forms of change in their home village, including schooling for their children. 4 As later struggles would show, community members covered a wide spectrum of opinion, but overall, Nargana and its twin village Nusatupu, a few hundred yards away, were a good deal more open to change than any of the other thirty-odd Kuna communities on the coast.
In 1910 he went with a cohort of boys from Nargana and Nusatupu/Corazón to the orphan’s Hospice of Don Bosco run by the Salesian Order, where he studied carpentry. Graduating in 1917, the only one of his group to fi nish his studies, he returned to Nargana the same or the following year. As tensions between the public and Protestant mission schools ratcheted up during 1918, his friends invited him to take the leadership of the young men’s group being organized to support the public schools and promote modernization.
But almost all of them showed sympathy and identification with their subjects, and far from remaining static, ethnographic narratives and portraits changed radically over the course of the twentieth century. Indeed, I would argue that for many or most of the ethnographers considered here, like many others elsewhere, empathy, identification, and advocacy—in some cases a “possessive identification . . analogous to the therapeutic relationship in psychoanalysis” (Wellin and Fine 2001, 326)— are more apparent than exclusion and othering.
Chiefs, Scribes, and Ethnographers: Kuna Culture from Inside and Out by James Howe