Indigenous peoples, age organization, rites of passage, A’uwẽ (Xavante), Brazil


Rites of passage and associated social processes and configurations can foster a sense of shared purpose, fraternity, and dedication to community through common experiences of group trials and commitment. A’uwẽ (Xavante) age organization entails the social production of manhood through a privileged form of male camaraderie constructed through age sets and mentorship, rooted in the shared experience of rites of passage and coresidence in the pre-initiate boys’ house. This process is central to how A’uwẽ men understand themselves, their social relations with certain delineated segments of society, and their ethnic identity. It is a basic social configuration contributing to the maintenance of A’uwẽ social and ethnic belonging in contemporary times. Ethnography of lowland South America could benefit from expanding its reach to consider the contributions of age organization and ritualized camaraderie to social and ethnic identity because they comprise an additional dimension of social identity that does not fit neatly into previously emphasized orders of social relations for this geographical region.