Performing Dreams: Discourses of Immortality Among the Xavante of Central Brazil
Over several centuries, the Xavante of Central Brazil have maintained an invincible sense of identity and feeling of control over historical processes, despite repeated invasions by colonists and settlers, capitalist commercial ventures, and most recently, an enormous government-sponsored agricultural project. In this discourse-centered study, Laura Graham explores how the Xavante use the ritual performance of myths and dreams to maintain their culture despite these disruptive forces. At the heart of the book is an extraordinary performance, in which a community elder tells his dream of an encounter with the creators. Graham analyzes the various components of his performance--narrative, myth-telling, song, and dance--and considers the entire community's participation in the preparations, rehearsal, and public performance of the dream, including their adaption to her presence and modern technologies. From this analysis, Graham demonstrates how the practice of myth-telling is an essential element in cultural continuity and the creation of social memory and how it also provides a kind of immortality for the myth-teller. Her findings will be of interest not only to students of South American cultures and linguistics but also to everyone intrigued by the role of myth and dreams in social life and social change.
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Area of Xavante Reserves
Pimentel Barbosa Indigenous Reserve
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