Conviviality; Subjectivity; Feeding/Eating; Waiwai


This essay considers the problematics of anthropological translations when its responsibility to the codes of its modernist subjectivity persuades us to defer judgment on interpretations made of indigenous semiotics of life. It begins with this full disclosure before attempting to describe, from a translation of a Waiwai myth, how one can produce a guilty reading about their privileging of concern for conviviality. The Waiwai bodily feeling of well-being must be in place before relations of trust can be enacted. Transforming the vial aggressive feelings of strangers becomes a priority for hosting them. Maintaining feelings of conviviality within the community is a daily preoccupation of life. Feeding and eating food together, an ethical precondition for well-being, become how the social life of the cassava plant contributes to virtuous sociality. Thus, the essay intends to present the usefulness of anthropological translations not to offer what is right or wrong, true or false, but rather the affirmation that other ways of being human are available.