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Title: Made by artful practice : health, reproduction and the perinatal period among Xié river dwellers of north-western Amazonia
Author: Rahman, Elizabeth Ann
ISNI:       0000 0004 5367 819X
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis is an ethnographic study of a little documented indigenous group, the Warekena people, who live on the Xié River in north-western Amazonia. Examining the mythic histories of the animate riverscape, my work offers an overview of the emergence of riverside dwelling: starting with a macro view of Xié river lifestyles, I explain how seasonal and distinguishing historic-mythic narratives tie in to wider idioms, and to experiences of social reproduction. I focus on reproductive processes and the perinatal period, highlighting methods used by Xié dwellers to nurture healthy, quality-conscious lifestyles, and I examine Xié aetiologies and pathologies. Mindfulness, or awareness, is viewed as a key component of good health. In this context, healthy childbirth is for the birthing mother an art form, a practice for which her total life experience has prepared her. Childbirth is ranked with such other painful experiences as snakebite, and both childbirth and snakebite are opportunities for personal growth. Infant care is seen through the lens of specific, hands-on techniques that promote mindful states in both the carer and the cared for. Mindfulness emerges as a heuristic device that allows us to scrutinize the Amerindian soul and body, also elucidating soul-loss in the ‘animist’ lived world. I argue that mindfulness is a core characteristic of the ‘cool’ hydrocentric and status-conscious lifestyles of Xié river dwellers, and that it defines what it means to be a person, the Xié way.
Supervisor: Hsu, Elisabeth; Ewart, Elizabeth Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Latin America ; Brazilian ; Practical ethics ; Medical and ecological anthropology ; Ethnographic practices ; Families,children and childcare ; Health and health policy ; Public Health ; medical anthropology ; mindfulness ; perinatal care ; maternity