The xawara and the dead: Yanomami people, mourning and fighting along COVID-19 pandemic

Marcelo Moura Silva Carlos Estellita-Lins About the authors

Abstract

Provided an ethnography attentive to the first repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic among the Yanomami, we pointed out tensions and cross-overs between native conceptions about the origin of diseases or death and epidemiology or biosafety discourses, especially due to imposing biosecurity corpse burial rules on Yanomami victims of COVID-19. We did follow some pandemic translation efforts by the Yanomami, in the Yanomami Indigenous Land, highlighting the correlation between the xawara and the history of napë (whites) contact, focusing especially the way through which new disease arrival reactivates memories of past epidemics and re-enacts dangers of close proximity to white people. Finally, around the pathogenic excesses of the corpses, a controlled equivocation involving the insistent permanence of viruses and the pores (ghost soul) of the dead was discussed. We sought to recognize cosmopolitical clashes and a claim for effective translations between biosecurity protocols and the ritual practice of Yanomami funerals. It proved useful to adopt the hypothesis of multinaturalism to discuss shared practices in COVID-19 pandemic.

Keywords:
pandemic; Yanomami etiology; funerary rites; cosmopolitics

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