Object structure

Creating Amazonian Sociality – Some Observations on the Patterns of Joking Interactions Among the Arabela of Peruvian Amazonia


Ethnologia Polona 36 2015 (2016)


Rogalski, Filip


Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of Polish Academy of Sciences

Place of publishing:


Date issued/created:



ill. ; 24 cm

Type of object:


Subject and Keywords:

Amazonian Indians ; everyday life ; joking interactions


This article presents a description and analysis of some typical patterns of joking interactions among the Arabela people of Peruvian Amazonia in the context of a particular attitude towards the Other typical to the Arabela cosmology. The paper deals with a particular kind of “phatic” joking that occurs when people change their mutual relations in the everyday practice (join or leave a group or a collective activity, establish visual contact, etc.). It is shown that these interactions are based on four participant roles. The active side of the interaction is composed of the positions of prompter and speaker, one who invents a jibe and one who pronounces it. The passive side is split into a first and a second butt of joke. The article claims that in these patterns an expression of a more general pattern of relations towards the Other can be seen, that combines two contrastive relations of aggressive opposition and mutual complicity


Basso E. B. 2000. Dialogues and body techniques in Kalapalo affinal civility. In A. Monod Becquelin and Ph. Erikson (eds.), Les rituels du dialogue. Promenades ethnolinguistiques en terres amérindiennes. Nanterre, 183–195
Basso K. H. 1979. Portraits of “the Whiteman”. Linguistic play and cultural symbols among the Western Apache. Cambridge
Bateson G. 1972. A theory of play and fantasy. In Steps to an ecology of mind. New York, 177–193
Bateson G. 1972. [1969]. Double bind. In Steps to an ecology of mind. New York, 271–278
Bonilla L. O. 2005. O bom patrão e o inimigo voraz: predação e comércio na cosmologia paumari. Mana 11 (1), 41–66
Clastres P. 1967. De quoi rient les Indiens? Les Temps modernes 253, 2179–2198
Descola Ph. 2009. Human natures. Social Anthropology 17 (2), 145–157
Descola Ph. 2012. Beyond nature and culture. The traffic of souls. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 2 (1), 473–500
Descola Ph. 2013. Beyond nature and culture. Chicago
Douglas M. 1975. Jokes. In Implicit meanings. London, 90–114
Erikson Ph. 1986. Altérité, tatouage et anthropophagie chez les Pano: la belliqueuse quête du soi. Journal de la Société des Américanistes 72 (1), 185–210
Erikson Ph. 1993. Une nébuleuse compacte: le macro-ensemble pano. In A.-C. Taylor and Ph. Descola (eds.), La remontée de l’Amazone, special issue L’homme 33 (126–128), 45–58
Erikson Ph. 2000. Dialogues à vif... Note sur les salutations en Amazonie. In A. Monod Becquelin and Ph. Erikson (eds.), Les rituels du dialogue. Promenades ethnolinguistiques en terres amérindiennes. Nanterre, 115–138
Gow P. 2002. Piro, Apurinã and Campa: Social Dissimilation and Assimilation in Southwestern Amazonia. In J. Hill and F. Santos-Granero (eds.), Comparative Arawakan Histories: Rethinking Language Family and Culture Area in Amazonia. Illinois, 147–170
Handelman D. and Kapferer B. 1972. Forms of joking activity: A comparative approach. American Anthropologist New Series 74 (3), 484–517
Jakobson R. 1960. Concluding Statement: Linguistics and Poetics. In T. A. Sebeok (ed.), Style in Language. Cambridge, 350–377
Lagrou E. 2006. Laughing at power and the power of laughing in Cashinahua narrative and performance. Tipití: Journal of the Society for the Anthropology of Lowland South America 4 (1), 33–56
Lévi-Strauss C. 1962. La pensée sauvage. Paris
Lévi-Strauss C. 1964. Mythologiques I. Le Cru et le Cuit. Paris
Levinson S. C. 1989. Putting Linguistics on a Proper Footing: Explorations in Goffman’s Concepts of Participation. In P. Drew and A. Wootton (eds.), Goffman. Cambridge, 161–227
Malinowski B. 1923. The problem of meaning in primitive languages. In C. K. Ogden and I. A. Richards (eds.), The Meaning of Meaning. New York, 451–510
Overing J. 2000. The efficacy of laughter. The ludic side of magic within Amazonian sociality. In J. Overing and A. Passes (eds.), The Anthropology of Love and Anger. The aesthetics of conviviality in Native Amazonia. London and New York, 64–81
Radcliffe-Brown A. R. 1952 [1940]. On joking relationships. In Structure and function in primitive society. Glencoe, Illinois, 90–104
Rogalski F. 2015. Animizm, perspektywizm i sprawczość u ludu Arabela z Amazonii peruwiańskiej. Ph.D. thesis, the Archives of The Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology, Adam Mickiewicz University. Poznań
Rosengren D. 2010. Seriously laughing. On paradoxes of absurdity among Matsigenka people. Ethnos 75 (1), 102–121
Seeger A., Da Matta R., Viveiros de Castro E. B. 1979. A construção da pessoa nas sociedades indígenas brasileiras. Boletim do Museu Nacional Série Antropologia 32, 2–19
Surrallés A. 2003. ¿Por qué el humor nos hacer reir? Humor, amor y modestia ritual en la lírica amazónica. Amazonía Peruana 14 (28–29), 87–102
Taylor A.-Ch. 1985. L’art de la reduction: la guerre et les mécanismes de la différenciation tribale dans la culture jivaro. Journal de la Société de Américanistes 71, 159–173
Taylor A.-Ch. 1993. Des fantômes stupéfiants. Langage et croyance dans la pensé shuar. L’Homme 33 (126–128), 429–447
Tola F. 2012. Yo no estoy solo en mi cuerpo: cuerpos-personas múltiples entre los tobas del Chaco argentino. Buenos Aires
de Vienne E. 2012. Make yourself uncomfortable. Joking relationships as predictable uncertainty among the Trumai of Central Brazil. Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory 2 (2), 163–187


Ethnologia Polona



Start page:


End page:


Resource type:


Detailed Resource Type:




Resource Identifier:



IAiE PAN, call no. P 366 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 367 ; IAiE PAN, call no. P 368 ; click here to follow the link




Rights Reserved - Free Access

Terms of use:

Copyright-protected material. May be used within the limits of statutory user freedoms

Digitizing institution:

Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences

Original in:

Library of the Institute of Archaeology and Ethnology of the Polish Academy of Sciences





Citation style: