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Relaciones. Estudios de historia y sociedad

versión On-line ISSN 2448-7554versión impresa ISSN 0185-3929


NEURATH, Johannes. Ontological frictions in the collaboration between Huichols and environmentalists. Relac. Estud. hist. soc. [online]. 2018, vol.39, n.156, pp.167-194. ISSN 2448-7554.

In recent decades, Wixaritari (Huichols) of western Mexico have been protagonists in high-profile ecological conflicts. This paper focuses on the frictions between them and the non-indigenous activists and environmentalists with whom they collaborate. In terms of Descola’s anthropology of ontologies, we could speak of the co-existence of Wixarika animism, New Age analogism and scientific naturalism, but should not rely too much on categorizations of this type. The salient point here is that Wixarika animists understand the other ontologies better than vice versa, so we conclude that ecologists and activists would benefit from enhancing their understanding of how Huichol cosmopolitics work. For Wixaritari, political practice always begins with the defense of autonomy and indigenous rights, but it is also important to emphasize that for them nature is not something given; rather it is produced through initiation rituals, so Huichols defend not only a pre-existing ritual geography, but also the right to permanently reinvent it. Living with Huichols makes it easy to understand that their aim is not to pursue some broad environmental goal like “saving the planet”, but to strengthen their community organization; so in a certain sense what they do through such practices is create, re-create and, we might say, save the world.

Palabras llave : huichols; ecology; ritual landscape; ontologies; autonomy.

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