Gente de isla - island people : an ethnography of Apiao, Chiloé, southern Chile
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This thesis is based upon fieldwork carried out in the island of Apiao, in the archipelago of Chiloé, southern Chile. It is an ethnographic exploration of the way the small community of Apiao conceive of communication and interaction with both fellow human beings and supernatural creatures. The thesis describes details of every day life, with an emphasis on visiting as the main mode of social interaction. Through reciprocal hospitality the islanders enact balanced reciprocal exchange. Food and drink is offered and received; this is always returned in equal measure with a return visit. Visits between friends or neighbours are articulated according to a formal ritualistic etiquette based on asking. Balance is temporarily interrupted and small debts incurred when favors are asked. These must be reciprocated promptly. Momentary interruption of equilibrium perpetuates relations among people who describe themselves as being 'all the same'. Marriage equates to forming an independent, productive unit with a focus on inhabitants of households rather than on family in terms of decent or blood ties. Kinship terms are limited to the word mama and this refers to the grandmother, the focal role in raising children. Active memory as expression of love and care is what makes people related to each other. Kin ties must be kept active by constant love and care. Forgetful kin are in turn forgotten and slowly erased from memory. The thesis shows that religious beliefs are centered on exchange relationships with powerful entities that belong to the supernatural world. The dead and the miraculous San Antonio are powerful and ambivalent: they protect and help the living but can be revengeful and harmful if neglected by the living. Novenas are offered to the dead and the San Antonio in exchange for protection and miracles. Novenas represent a public and powerful ritual display of hospitality, enacting values of memory, solidarity and exchange.
Thesis, PhD Doctor of Philosophy
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