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The Canela: Kinship, Ritual and Sex in an Amazonian Tribe 2nd Edition

William H. Crocker, Jean G. Crocker

  • Published
  • Previous Editions 1994
  • 174 Pages


This text is a case study of one people, the Canela, which traces changes through time, a group uniquely held together by social and sexual bonds, and reveals the ethnographer's fieldwork practices. The authors present much of the material through short narratives and examples and Native points of view are expressed through their diaries. The reader is introduced to the Canela with an account of one of the author's arrivals in the tribe. This is followed by a brief history of the Canela that clarifies how the network of the kinship system holds the society together, and how the unusual sex practices create satisfying bonds among the people. The case study also shows how the practice of rituals affirms the group way of life for the individual. Many contemporary influences have caused the gradual demise of the Canela way of life. The case study concludes with an epilogue on the Canela's future adaptation to Brazilian life.

William H. Crocker,

Bill Crocker graduated from Yale University in 1950 and was the first of George Spindler's students to earn his M.A. in anthropology from Stanford in 1953. He completed his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin at Madison in 1962, having made the first of many visits to the Canela in 1957. In 1962, he joined the Smithsonian Institution as Associate Curator for South American Ethnology in the Department of Anthropology of the National Museum of Natural History. He continued his study of the Canela, making 20 trips to the field over the years, totaling 74 months of living with the tribe. Although Bill has missed teaching, he appreciates the opportunity for intensive and long-term research his career at the Smithsonian has provided. He is the author of numerous articles on the Canela, and in 1990 his comprehensive monograph, THE CANELA (EASTERN TIMBIRA), I: AN ETHNOGRAPHIC INTRODUCTION appeared as number 33 in the Smithsonian Contributions to Anthropology series. Bill's work also contributed to the 1999 video on the Canela, MENDING WAYS, and to an extensive Canela website, launched in 2002, that is linked to the Smithsonian anthropology's web system. In 2001, Bill spent three months with the Canela, and he hopes to spend a few weeks every other year with them, continuing the study of long term cultural change.

Jean G. Crocker,

Jean Galloway Thomas married Bill in 1987 and has since collaborated informally with him as an editor. She earned her B.A. in English from Stanford in 1960 and her M.A. in English from Georgetown University in 1971. She taught literature and writing in college preparatory schools for 20 years. Jean accompanied Bill on his 1991 trip to Brazil and lived with the Canela for three weeks. For this case study, and its revision, Jean used her teaching experience to orient the text for the college student. She helped organize the material and wrote some sections. Since Bill is the anthropologist, however, Jean has preserved his voice as the single narrative "I."
Preface: How I Chose Anthropology and the Canela for my Life's Work.
Introduction to the Second Edition.
1. A First Visit to the Canela.
2. The Historical Context.
3. The Web of Kinship.
4. Affirmation through Ritual.
5. The Extramarital Sex System.
Epilogue: The Future of the Canela.
Appendix A: Mythology.
Appendix B: Orthography.
Appendix C: Comparison of Topics Across Various Media.