Piaroa sorcery and the navigation of negative affect: to be aware, to turn away

Rodd, Robin (2006) Piaroa sorcery and the navigation of negative affect: to be aware, to turn away. Anthropology of Consciousness, 17 (1). pp. 35-64.

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An overemphasis on the interpretation of language has impeded understanding of the cultural and cognitive logic of sorcery’s focal acts: divination and sorcery battle. Among the Piaroa of southern Venezuela, divination and sorcery battle are conducted during hallucinogen-induced visions, and are predicated on an epistemology that privileges forms of knowing that are neither linguistic nor language-like. I suggest that Piaroa sorcerers use hallucinogen-induced visions to map the social ecology of emotions in ways partially explainable by cognitive science, and that mature contemplation may provide the anthropologist with a means of understanding relationships between nonlinguistic thought and culture. I interweave an account of my participation in a sorcery battle with neuropsychological interpretations of cognition and emotion to present a navigation of negative affect theory of sorcery. The navigation of negative affect theory complements sociological and psychoanalytic approaches while emphasizing the cognitive skills and visionary experiences that underpin the practice of sorcery by shamans.

Item ID: 1406
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1053-4202
Keywords: sorcery, Piaroa, hallucinogens, emotional appraisal, divination
Date Deposited: 03 Apr 2007
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1601 Anthropology > 160104 Social and Cultural Anthropology @ 70%
22 PHILOSOPHY AND RELIGIOUS STUDIES > 2203 Philosophy > 220312 Philosophy of Cognition @ 30%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9204 Public Health (excl. Specific Population Health) > 920401 Behaviour and Health @ 51%
95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9504 Religion and Ethics > 950405 Religious Structures and Ritual @ 49%
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