Using data collected during ethnographic fieldwork in the Palikur lands known as Arukwa along the Rio Urucauá in the Área Indígena do Uaçá, in Amapá, Brazil, we seek to expand current understandings of Arawakan oral forms of mapping that involve the listing of place-names. This article argues that the practice demonstrates a form of cartographic imagination that is based on a different theorization of the relationship between space and time. Contrasting the formal technology of cartography with the Palikur performative representations of “spatiotemporality,” this article argues that the former approach is inadequate to the task of understanding the practice of listing place-names insofar as it separates body, temporality, and sky from place. Moreover, the spatiotemporal approach described indexes not one but multiple temporalities, including the autobiographical, ecological, astronomical, genealogical, and historical. Drawing on the notion of “topokinetic memory” described by neuroscientist Alain Berthoz (2000) and on ethnographic material collected during a journey on the Rio Urucauá, this analysis distinguishes between story maps as the practice of representational memory of space (such as the listing of landmarks on routes) and “story tracks” as performances of orientation that accompany the telling of stories about journeys, or along them. Proposing that both modes of memory are important in everyday life, we argue that the story track constitutes a practice of topographic memory that relies on the perspective of earth, sky, and underworld afforded by the moving, perceiving, conscious, and responsive person. Understood in this way, the listing of place-names is a form of cartographic imagination that incorporates history, geography, astronomy, ethics, and the self.
Space, Time, and Story Tracks: Contemporary Practices of Topographic Memory in the Palikur Territory of Arukwa, Amapá, Brazil
Lesley J. F. Green, David R. Green; Space, Time, and Story Tracks: Contemporary Practices of Topographic Memory in the Palikur Territory of Arukwa, Amapá, Brazil. Ethnohistory 1 January 2009; 56 (1): 163–185. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00141801-2008-039
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