In this paper I discuss the recent phenomenon of conspicuous and increasing consumption of goods among the Xikrin-Kayapó (Mebengokre) of Pará, Brazil. Money and goods have become embedded in every domain of Xikrin life, including kinship, economy, politics and ritual. Merchandise can now be seen as a total social fact in Xikrin‑Kayapó society. I show that this sort of consumerism results from a complex interaction between general principles of Mebengokre sociocosmology and the particular historical conditions in which such principles operate and are actualized. In particular, I suggest that the meaning and function of manufactured goods and money (“Whites’ stuff,” in the words of the Xikrin) in Mebengokre society must be understood as a structural transformation of the meaning and function of a class of indigenous objects related to the ritual system (e.g. ceremonial ornaments and ceremonial names) which have great symbolic and cosmological significance. In the last part of the paper, I describe the changes that this process of incorporating the “Whites’ stuff” may cause in Mebengokre political and symbolic economy.
"The Objects of the Whites: Commodities and Consumerism among the Xikrin-Kayapó (Mebengokre) of Amazonia,"
Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America:
2, Article 2.
Available at: http://digitalcommons.trinity.edu/tipiti/vol8/iss2/2