knowledge, personhood, house, Tukano, Northwest Amazonia


This paper aims to demonstrate how, by combining the foundation of an indigenous school with the construction of a longhouse (maloca), the Tukano indigenous association of the Hausirõ and Ñahuri Porã clans, Middle Tiquié river, produces social relations proper to Tukanoan House societies as described by Hugh-Jones (1991, 1993). Through "indigenous research" and the celebrations that mark the school calendar, internal subdivisions of clan, hierarchy, age and gender are marked in space, while, at the same time, this new space allows for interdependence and articulation with other indigenous groups and outsiders (especially NGO professionals, scientists and politicians). In a previous historical moment (1940-1980) when the Salesian missionaries destroyed Tukano longhouses (basariwii, houses of dance) and took children away to boarding school (bueriwii, house of study), a conceptual distinction was opened between the system of knowledge proper to the maloca (masῖse, knowledge) and the system of knowledge proper to the school (buese, study). The constitution of a maloca-escola is an experiment in blending these two conceptual universes that is partially effective in the production and circulation of both Tukano and exogenous knowledge.