Image and instrumentality in a Xavante politics of existential recognition: The public outreach work of EtÉnhiritipa Pimentel Barbosa

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ABSTRACT

This analysis of one Xavante group's innovative projects to represent Xavante culture to nonindigenous audiences reveals multiple and complex perceptions of instrumentalities as well as political goals. Unlike many contemporary Native (Amazonian and other) groups that use aspects of their culture to attract support and achieve concrete political goals, local objectives are relatively abstract and future oriented, having to do with public “image” and “existential recognition.” Analysis illustrates that local ideas about indigenous cultural displays aimed primarily at nonindigenous audiences, including “identity politics” and apparently straightforward cultural commodification, may not neatly correspond with anthropologists' or other outsiders' expectations. Overly narrow interpretive foci may cause anthropologists to overlook the potential for multiple and complex objectives and a diversity of locally significant dimensions.

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