A taste of movement : an exploration of the social ethics of the Tsimanes of lowland Bolivia
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This thesis explores Tsimane understandings and creations of varying forms of sociality. Each chapter addresses different but related issues concerning sociality. Fieldwork was carried out in three riverine settlements over the period from December 1991 to August 1994. The thesis shows that sociality is created and perpetuated by individuals as a processual endeavour, and does not amount to a tangible structure predicated upon fixed social relationships. Community in a physically bound sense is not found amongst the Tsimanes. Given forms of sociality are shown to rest more upon an appropriateness or inappropriateness of mood or affectivity. These are created and effected by subtle details of each individual’s presence amongst others. Social presence is understood by the Tsimanes as both potentially nurturant and predatory. Tsimanes are explicit about their ideas of preferred and abhorred social presence and behaviour of human and non-human others. This thesis explores ways in which such ideas are articulated to create a discourse on social ethics. A Tsimane aesthetics of social living carries with it practical implications for creating and perpetuating forms of sociality. An underlying theme of the thesis is one of mobility and the oscillating nature of Tsimane movements between different groups of kin and affines, and between moods and forms of sociality. I demonstrate that the high value placed by the Tsimanes upon movement, and the enjoyment they experience from it, most efficiently enable the achievement of correct social existence. A lack of knowledge and intention, ultimately resulting in illness and death, are principally deemed to occur as a result of immobility.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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