To Drink of Death: The Narrative of a Shuar Warrior

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University of Arizona Press, 1993 - History - 316 pages
The Shuar people of southeastern Ecuador are famous for their fierce independence, their long resistance to conquest...and their practice of shrinking heads. Among the members of this warlike tribe, the name Tukup is held in great respect as both a warrior and a shaman. His exploits are known throughout the Upano Valley and the interior, and he is even mentioned by name in books, always with a reference such as "the famous Tukup". So fearful is his reputation that children of his enemies are warned to behave or else "Tukup will come and get you". Anthropologist Janet Wall Hendricks chanced to meet Tukup during her fieldwork, and he accepted her invitation to tell his life story. That account, presented here, provides a valuable look at the Shuar - and their enemies, the neighboring Achuar - from the perspective of one of the last surviving warriors of a region long torn by intertribal conflict. Tukup shares details of his youth and violent life yet studiously avoids some facts that would shed light on his own identity - conflicting views persist concerning whether he is Shuar or Achuar - in what may be an effort to perpetuate his legend and the power it gives him. Because Tukup told his story in the presence of family and friends, his motivations and stylistic embellishments necessarily entered into the telling. Hendricks therefore utilizes discourse-centered analysis to explore how a variety of linguistic and paralinguistic devices, as well as cultural and personal historical contexts, shape the narrative. Her study thus extends culturally centered discourse analysis to encompass the individual in a particular culture.

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Shuar Speech and Narrative Style

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