15.11.2019 Indigenous Studies Visiting Seminar: "Field Notes": A Collaborative Etude of Indigenous Amazonian Verbal-and-Musical Artistry in Four Movements

Jonathan D. Hill (Southern Illinois University)

Friday November 15th

At 10:15–11:45

Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40), lecture room 4

This presentation will reflect on the significance of recording, performing, and listening together as an ethnographic method of collaborative ethnopoetics, or the creation of a shared interpersonal and interpretive space that connects anthropologists and their interlocutors through a common interest in attending to the indigenous experience of verbal-and-musical artistry. I will re-visit three major stages of my fieldwork with the Arawak-speaking Wakuénai (Curripaco) of Venezuela in the 1980s and ‘90s which illustrate the magic that can happen when anthropologists make, transcribe, and translate sound recordings as collaborative activities. A fourth ‘movement’ unfolded in the early 2000s with the digital archiving of my analog field recordings of sound and speech and the arrival of internet access among the Wakuénai of Venezuela. 

Professor Jonathan D. Hill works in the department of Anthropology at the Southern Illinois University. He has been researching Amazonian region for over three decades, with the particular interest in musical and  ritual traditions of indigenous nations in the Lowland South America. His first book Keepers of the Sacred Chants: The Poetics of Ritual Power in an Amazonian Society (1993) has been seminal in Amazonian music studies. His later publications include "Made-from-bone: Trickster Myths, Music, and History from the Amazon" (2009). He has produced a body of research regarding the questions of nationality and identity, as well as power in the context of the indigenous nation states, and he is the editor of History, Power and Identity: Ethnogenesis in the Americas, 1492-1992” (1996). He is also a co-editor of Comparative Arawakan Histories: Rethinking Language Family and Culture Area in Amazonia (2002) and Burst of Breath. Indigenous Ritual Wind Instruments in Lowlands South America (2011). Professor Hill is a member, and formerly a President, of SALSA - largest international association of lowland South American anthropology specialists, which among its research activities has been advocating for the rights of the indigenous nations in the region.