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Pyrotechnical mastery and humanization: Amazonian cuisine, care and craft in evolutionary and semiotic perspective

Nahum-Claudel, Chloe (2020) Pyrotechnical mastery and humanization: Amazonian cuisine, care and craft in evolutionary and semiotic perspective. Current Anthropology, 61 (4). 418 - 440. ISSN 0011-3204

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Identification Number: 10.1086/710356

Abstract

In evolutionary biology, as in Amerindian origin myths, the mastery of fire makes us human. The Amazonian Enawenê-nawê are adept pyrotechnicians. Fire is the agent of transformation in their world. They master fire not only to cook food but also to bring health and balance to bodies and to fabricate key items of material culture like ornaments and containers. Demonstrating the analytical productivity of expanding our definition of cookery to encompass craft and care, this ethnographic analysis of fabrication processes suggests that pyrotechnical mastery is a privileged means by which humanity is established in an ongoing evolutionary dialectic between mind and world. This argument is developed through an original reading of Lévi-Strauss’s structuralism that highlights commonalities with the semiotic theories of C. S. Peirce. In a broader sense, the article illustrates the potential of semiotic analyses to contribute to the study of evolved human capacities that set humans apart from other species.

Item Type: Article
Official URL: https://www.journals.uchicago.edu/toc/ca/current
Additional Information: © 2020 The Wenner-Gren Foundation for Anthropological Research
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
Date Deposited: 26 Aug 2020 09:45
Last Modified: 20 Sep 2021 03:18
URI: http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/106242

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