Summary and Info
In Amazonian Cosmos, a unique and fascinating contribution to South American ethnography, Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff investigates the world view of an isolated Indian tribe, the Desana, of the Northwest Amazon. The author worked with a single informant over a prolonged period, and later checked his findings extensively in the field. The acculturated native informant expressed his ideas of Man and the Universe in terms that go beyond the narrow limits of a specialized ethnological work and that reveal an interrelated system of signs and symbols of much wider interest. By using mythology and native languages as keys to an understanding of social behavior, the author has reached a level of inquiry and a depth of perception rarely achieved in a study of primitive rain forest Indians, those remnants of once powerful tribes that now are rapidly disappearing. Claude Lévi-Strauss writes of Amazonian Cosmos: “I have examined your book with passionate interest and I am amazed at the riches of that universe which you reveal to us in it. South American ethnography will never be the same again, for you have brought it into a new era ... it is impossible to express adequate appreciation for the brilliant demonstration you have given us of hitherto unsuspected possibilities for investigation in depth.” Amazonian Cosmos is the author’s own translation of Desana, published in Spanish in 1969. GERARDO REICHEL-DOLMATOFF is research fellow at the Universidad de los Andes, and member of the Instituto Colombiano de Antropología in Bogotá. He is the author of eight books, including “Colombia”: Ancient Peoples and Places and The People of Aritama, and has also published numerous articles on Colombian ethnology and archaeology.
More About the Author
Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff (March 6, 1912 – May 16, 1994) was an anthropologist and archaeologist known for his research and also in-depth fieldwork among many different Amerindian cultures such as in the Amazonian tropical rainforests (e.g.
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