The Potency of Indigenous Bibles and Biographies | Mapuche Shamanic Literacy and Historical Consciousness

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo | SUNY Buffalo
Friday, October 24, 2014
2–4 pm

Mapuche oral shamanic biographies and performances—some of which take the form of “Bibles” and shamanic literacies—play a central role in the production of indigenous history in southern Chile. In this article Bacigalupo explains how and why a mixed-race Mapuche shaman charged her to write about her life and practice in the form of a “Bible.” This book would become a ritual object and a means of storing her shamanic power by textualizing it, thereby allowing her to speak to a future audience. The realities and powers her “Bible” stores can be extracted, transformed, circulated, and actualized for a variety of ends, even to bring about shamanic rebirth. Ultimately, Bacigalupo argues that through their use and interpretation of this “Bible,” Mapuche shamans in southern Chile expand academic notions of indigenous history and literacy.

Hemispheric Institute of Performance & Politics
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New York, NY 10003

Ana Mariella Bacigalupo received her PhD in Anthropology from UCLA and is currently an Associate Professor of Anthropology at SUNY Buffalo. She has worked with Mapuche shamans in southern Chile for twenty years. She is the author of numerous articles, book chapters, and four books, including Shamans of the Foye Tree: Gender, Power and Healing Among the Chilean Mapuche (University of Texas Press, 2007) and the upcoming Thunder Shaman: Making History with Mapuche Spirits in Patagonia under contract with the University of Texas Press. She is the recipient of many prestigious awards and fellowships, and currently serves as the Anthropology Coordinator for the NIH Minority Health and Health Disparities International Research Training Grant as well as chair of the section of Religion and Spirituality of the Latin American Studies Association.