Human-animal relations, hunting, Karitiana, learning


This article addresses hunting practices and human-animal relations among the Karitiana, a Tupi-Arikém-speaking indigenous people in the southwestern Brazilian Amazon, asserting that if humans can learn from animals in long-lasting hunting experiences in the forest, animals can also learn how to deal with their human predators as well as their knowledge and techniques. Furthermore, animals must be understood here as species and individuals. This is an almost natural conclusion drawn from Amazonian ethnography, which suggests that distinctions between humans and the nonhumans that we call animals are not classified according to a categorization in which human beings have resourcefulness and creative adaptability and animals only possess instinctive and mechanical reactions, following certain widespread (and rather simplistic) Cartesian naturalistic ontologies. Thus, if Amazonian landscapes were manufactured over millennia of human and non-human interactions, there is no reason to exclude animals from these historical processes of mutual co-constitution, which have already been described in detail in the literature focusing on plants (especially palm trees), soils, and landscapes.