American Ethnologist

Apocalyptic futures: The violent transformation of moral human life among Ayoreo-speaking people of the Paraguayan Gran Chaco



In this article, I describe the social topography of apocalyptic futurism among recently contacted Ayoreo-speaking people in Paraguay to examine the novel senses of being in the world that are emerging in harsh postcontact conditions. I show how apocalyptic futurism exceeds the temporal confines of both “traditional culture” and “Christianity.” Rather, it derives from the afterlife of violence and a general consensus that biological survival now requires a reconstitution of the terms of humanity. Apocalyptic sensibilities are concerned with more than local values or the transcendence of death; rather, as I show, they mark a new threshold between the human and the nonhuman.