Shame, Witchcraft, and Social Control: The Case of an Awa-Coaiquer Interloper

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Essay Excerpt

In short then, I believe Flo's experience and history with outsiders made him suspect in two essential ways. First, he was tainted by his open associations with outsiders and his acceptance of their dangerous and often inscrutable ideologies regarded by the Awa as threatening to native ideology and life. Second, Flo positioned himself as being different and better than his neighbors. He bragged about, and was truly proud of, his experiences with outsiders. He was, in his own eyes, enlightened and knowledgeable. He knew what others did not, and he was quite willing and happy to let them know it. His knowledge and experience permitted him to identify with the world of outsiders, and this created a barrier between him and his relatives (affines) and neighbors-he was an outsider, an interloper, and like Waru, a marginal man.

Flo's attempts at ingratiating himself with outsiders, and his willingness to deal with strangers (i.e., outsiders and nonkin) made him the target of much verbal abuse and shaming remarks that were all meant to keep him in his place socially. Gossip and shaming transformed Flo's hardwork and accommodations to outsiders into deviant behavior at a time when everyone else in the neighborhood was dissembling and using secrecy to protect their lives from the impact of the outside world (see Ehrenreich 1985, 1986). (Enrenreich,  342)

About the Author

Jeffrey David Enrenreich is a Professor of Anthropology at the University of New Orleans. His main interests are as follows: Cultural anthropology, critical theory and history of ethnology, qualitative methods, comparative religion and shamanism, medical anthropology, visual anthropology, the body as social text, culture contact and colonialism; Amazonia and Mesoameraca.

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