Book Review of "From the Milk River"

Published: 2018-10-18 14:14:49
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The social structure

The author puts into perspective the social construct of the Pira-Parana Indians. She explains that the current experiences of the Indians are products of the myths. According to the community the myths and their beliefs are part of their culture and hence determine the framework regarding their lives (Hugh Jones, 1979, pg 1-9). The author explains that instead of first putting focus on the cosmology of the community, she will first analyze the basic structures of the social construct of the community regarding patrilineal groups, and families while looking at the aspects of marriage and proliferation (Hugh Jones, 1979, pg 1-9). The author analyzes the various phases regarding the relationship between temporal processes and different phases that are present in the longhouse in addition to illustrating that the same relation makes up the framework of the cosmos. She explains that she bases her argument on the perspective that the framework that builds the social structure tends to be basic and that the cosmos tends to be a depiction of the social context (Hugh Jones, 1979, pg 1-9). However, she puts emphasis that there exists no cause and effect relation between the two constructs. From her viewpoint, the anthropologist should perceive the ancestral construct as an assumed depiction of the experience that is currently taking place. Furthermore, the anthropologist should take into consideration that it's a depiction that defines the activities that are currently taking place such that it becomes an important part of the modern day social construct (Hugh Jones, 1979, pg 1-9). In other words, the ancestral realm tends to have a significant influence in the modern world or rather there seems to be integration between the past world and the current world. Therefore, the author centralizes with the theory that there exists an integration of the ancestral worlds to the current world on the Indian's social structure (Hugh Jones, 1979, pg 1-9). The authors thesis is that social structure kinship and marriage the life cycle politics, social, finance, and religion are ideologically combined just as they are also inextricably bound together in concrete behavior with the context being that the social structure of the Pira-Pirana Indians.

From a general perspective, the author asserts that the socialist's roles that are present in the Pira-Pirana community include; the sibs, the phratry, the local descent group, tribe, and the exogamous groups. She also mentions three specialist roles that include; dancer, chanter, and shaman. She explains that the three constructs are part of the metaphysical sphere and that they are associated with the name of the experts. Some of the names include Y-Yoamu, X-Kumu, and Z-baya in the chanter, shaman and dancer roles respectively. She further explains that the role only applies to two of the specialist roles. The reason is that the chanter and dancer are affiliated to one group. One significant aspect that the author mentions regarding the specialist's role is that when compared to the chanters and the dancers, the shamans tend to be highly regarded. However, she puts into perspective that Shamans tend to be feared by people from other tribes because of their dangerous abilities despite being respected by those that seek their services (Hugh Jones, 1979, pg 1-9).

Production and consumption

Chapter six of the book focuses on the aspects of production and consumption. The author explains that the Pira-Pirana Indians incorporate the fact that the same individuals that take part in the production and consumption processes and that the chapter focuses on showing that the production and the consumption processes tend to be in line with the processes of establishing the existence of people and the social constructs (Hugh Jones, 1979, 169). The association among individuals in the Pira-Pirana community is defined by the processes of producing and consuming on a day to day basis in addition to events regarding rituals. The author puts into perspective the issue on social reproduction whereby she explains that social reproduction is associated with the processes involved in socio-economic activities (Hugh Jones, 1979, 169). She explains that it is quite evident that when people take in substances, they also have the tendency of taking in processes that may include shamanic, mythical or practical such that the substances are produced. The author explains that the longhouse group in the Pira-Pirana community tends to be a unit that is virtually stable. She explains that the unit has two principle divisions that include division by sex and division by family structure. Objects such as weapons, pottery, basketry, red paint and tobacco are mostly produced at home and tend to be traded between the distinct longhouse divisions (Hugh Jones, 1979, 169).

In regards to the sexual division of labor, the author explains that there are several facts associated with the division (Hugh Jones, 1979, 170). For men, the basic roles include; putting down and burning the manioc fields, cultivating herbs, fishing, hunting, cultivating fruit trees, gathering in large scale, manufacturing household utensils made from wood , structuring houses from wood, production of wild foods purposed for trade during rituals, use of resources that are high and above-ground, engaging in basketry, and production of ornaments and products required during rituals. For women, the basic rules include; cultivation of domestic crops, doing all the cooking, planting, engaging in the planting, harvesting and preparing of the manioc, gathering in small scale, preparing foods that are wild for immediate consumption, use of resources that are low and underground, engaging in pottery, in addition to production of garters and paints that are used during rituals. The author explains that the fact that the men are highly involved in the ritual; aspect indicates that they have the upper hand in rituals (Hugh Jones, 1979, 170).

Inclusion of ancestral spirits 

The author puts into perspective the issue of seasonality whereby changes in seasons affect the role regarding food production (Hugh Jones, 1979, 171). The author also highlights the inclusion of ancestral spirits on issues regarding fertility. She uses the myth of the dragonfly and the no-anus spirit to illustrate the productive cycle and its significance (Hugh Jones, 1979, 185). In regards to the changes in time, the author explains that the activities carried out by the longhouse community define the time framework of the daily cycle because of the interchange depicted by night and day. She explains that the production of manioc and the cooking of food tend to be the day to day activities of the community while the others tend to be seasonal (Hugh Jones, 1979, 186).

Kipuri explains that people from the indigenous community tend to base their rich culture on the association of current affairs and the spiritual world in their structures (52). Nature and culture tend to be analogous such that they have an association or link. The perspective aligns with Hugh Jones perspective that the ancestral realm tends to have a significant influence in the modern world or rather there seem to be integration between the past world and the current world. The author also asserts that both political and social constructs are part of the cosmos. She explains that indigenous communities tend to exhibit collectiveness in their social, economic activities; an issue that Hugh Jones puts into perspective when it comes to the production and consumption processes (Kipuri, 2009, 52). The writer put emphasis on the presence of the traditional values among the Native Americans today and their focus of passing them from one generation to the next (Kipuri, 2009, 52).

Similarly to both Hugh Jones and Kipuri, Porter explains that the individuals from the indigenous community tend to associate their land productivity with the spirit world (45). For the community, certain aspects have to be adhered to when cultivating in addition to rituals. She explains that there tends to be a division of roles on the basis of gender whereby women generally dealt with domestic chores while men took part in activities such as hunting, gathering, fishing, and participating in rituals (Porter, 2012, 47). The view is supporting Hugh Jones analysis of the sexual division of labor. Hugh Jones puts emphasis on the perspective that the fact that the men are highly involved in the ritual aspect indicates that they have the upper hand in rituals when compared to the women.

Hugh Jones and his analysis

From the analysis, it is quite evident that Hugh Jones makes a point when it comes to the construct that exists between ancestral beliefs and the current social construct of the Indian community. It is common for people from various cultures to associate some elements or things that happen in their lives with myths. The author goes into an in-depth analysis of the association whereby she looks at the various units of the Pira-Pirana culture in regards to the social organization and the functions of various units. She bases her argument on the aspect that the anthropologist should perceive the ancestral construct as an assumed depiction of the experience taking place currently. Also, there is a need to take into consideration that itts a depiction that defines the activities that are currently taking place such that it becomes an important part of the modern day social construct. The Indian culture still highly associates events and experiences with myths. Events such as fertility in humans, land and animals are associated with the spirit world. Both Kipuri and Porter explain that individuals from the indigenous community associate their land productivity with the spirit world. Therefore, it is quite evident that the indigenous groups associate the ancestral world with the current events whereby several myths are associated to explain certain events. From a personal viewpoint, such an association is significant when it comes to the preservation of culture and passing cultural values from one generation to the next.

In synopsis, the three authors are of the view that there is an association between the cosmos and the social framework. Hugh Jones makes a critical analysis of the association such that she makes the hypothesis that the ancestral realm tends to have a significant influence in the modern world or rather there seem to be integration between the past world and the current world. In chapter 6 of her book, she analyzes the processes of production and consumption as a relevant aspect in explaining the cosmos. It, therefore, becomes important to analyze the correlation between the past and the present. The belief in such an association makes it possible to preserve culture in addition to serving as the basis for moral ground.

 

Work Cited

Hugh Jones, Christine. Book Review of From the Milk River: Spatial and temporal processes in Northwest Amazoniat. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1979.

Kipuri, Naomi. Culturet. State of the world indigenous people, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, 52-83, 2009. Print

Porter, Joy. Land and Spirit. California: Praeger, 2012.

sheldon

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