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Cosmology, Worldview and Gender-based Knowledge Systems among the Tanimuka and Yukuna (Northwest Amazon)

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In this article gender-based knowledge systems are related to the cosmology and worldview held by hunter-gatherer men and by female swidden cultivators among the Tanimuka and Yukuna Indians of the Northwest Amazon in Colombia. The terms 'cosmology' and 'worldview' are differentiated conceptually, to distinguish the scales of cosmoview and worldview as Amerindians contrast these. The positions of each gender in knowledge politics, property rights, environmental management strategies and in chiefdom polities are analysed to inquire why the cosmology and worldview asymmetrically empower the men and women to recreate social and environmental sustainability, endorse consciousness of ethno-eco-cosmic linkages and foster respect for life-enhancing dynamics. An analysis of the concepts of Thought or of Knowledge as the basis of existence itself across society, nature and cosmos is made to inquire why this Amerindian theory of knowledge and its application by gender-based agency consolidates ethnic alterity and a wise use of resources. The Tanimuka and Yukuna rejection of alien or unwanted Thought-Knowledge of other cultures and of rainforest forces is interpreted as a politics of distantiation. This affirms notions of a negotiatory universe with long term communitarian and environmental well-being, as the knowledge claims of the cosmology and worldview resist hegemonic ecocidal and ethnocidal dynamics.

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Affiliations: 1: Honorary Research Fellow Department of Anthropology University of Wales at Lampeter ereichel@ openway


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