To be Seen or Not to Be Seen! Marriage Choices among Ese Eja of the Bolivian and Peruvian Amazon

Peluso, Daniela M. (2017) To be Seen or Not to Be Seen! Marriage Choices among Ese Eja of the Bolivian and Peruvian Amazon. In: VALENTINE, Paul and BECKERMAN, Stephen and ALÈS, Catherine, eds. The Anthropology of Marriage in Lowland South America: Bending and breaking the rules. University of Florida Press, Gainesville, pp. 55-70. ISBN 978-0-8130-5431-5. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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Abstract

Amazonian marriage unions are most commonly described and analyzed in terms of whom one marries rather than how one marries. Irrespective of change, these dimensions are consistently entrenched in Ese Eja community sociality and politics. With wavering intensity in time and place, Ese Eja couples have long been choosing to initiate their marriage, either publicly, hamatijawiaki, or secretly, ejakewawanaki. By comparing the different ways in which marriages commence, this chapter addresses the unspoken relationships between the individual and the group that Ese Eja marriages reflect, including the power relations in which marriages are embedded. In discussing public marriages, I emphasize how marriage is legitimized by what Ese Eja call “seeing”; the public involvement of kin and neighbors in the union. Contrastingly, in secret marriages, couples are united without any agreement or public acknowledgment from either side’s family. Here, I argue that secret marriages tend to fail because of the way that power is construed within indigenous Amazonian communities, given the absence of a central authority or state. Individuals who marry in secret deprive their family and neighbors of speech, action, and exchange, thereby revealing and challenging the underlying mechanisms of power. Despite their poor outcomes, secret marriages, like extra-marital affairs, persist and present a means for individuals to bask in a short-lived reprieve from group authority. Finally, the various ways in which marriages are initiated further accentuate the importance of marriage as a process that mediates contemporary economic cooperation, production, and regeneration and often mark their success or failure.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Amazonia, Lowland South America, marriage, relatedness, gender, visuality
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > HQ1236 Gender Politics
H Social Sciences > HQ The family. Marriage. Woman > HQ21 Sexual behavior and attitudes
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation
Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Anthropology and Conservation > Social and Cultural Anthropology
Depositing User: Daniela Peluso
Date Deposited: 29 Apr 2017 15:51 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 19:01 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/61587 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
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