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Debates | 2001
Jonathan Hill

Comentarios de Jonathan Hill


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1In general I found this to be a fascinating manuscript with many interesting points. I was especially interested in the development of theoretical concepts, such as "etnificacion" and "etnicizacion", as well as the "reconnecting" of indigenous societies with their histories as a way of counteracting colonial ideologies and official national histories that have disconnected these peoples from their histories for many centuries. In my view, that is the first and only way to start a new synthesis of anthropology and history that will avoid the reifications of previous generations. We must strive not only to reveal the multiple ways in which Western discourses have disauthenticated indigenous histories by removing them from real historical space-times but also to develop theoretical approaches that positively affirm indigenous histories, re-Africanization of communal pasts, hybridity, and so forth.

2I liked the author's focus on indigenous ways of constructing space (p. 25). It is a major theme in the forthcoming volume I am co-editing with Fernando Santos-Granero on "Comparative Arawakan Histories" (Hill n.d.). I began to develop this theme several years ago in my 1989 article on "Ritual Production of Environmental Histories" (Hill 1989)and a book called Keepers of the Sacred Chants (Hill 1993; see also Fernando Santos-Granero's article on Yanesha "writing" of history through mythic toponymy). Also, there is an excellent new book called Emplaced Myth (U. Hawaii Press, 2001) edited by Alan Rumsey and James Weiner, developing concepts of space in Papua New Guinea and aboriginal Australia.

3Another important topic of Boccara's article is his critique of the "nation-state worldview". This is a very important topic and one that I've written about in the introductory chapter to my edited volume on History, Power, and Identity (Hill 1996) and in other places (Cambridge History of Native Peoples of the Americas, Ethnologie Francaise). Also, see Patricia Albers' article on the Northern Plains in History, Power, and Identity (Albers 1996). I believe that most of the contemporary structures and epistemologies of power in the Americas (with the possible exception of some very recent ones) are deeply rooted in the "nation-state worldview", so we must sharpen our critiques of this power structure if we are to truly rethink indigenous histories in the Americas.

4"Re-Africanization" in the Americas (p. 29) is another major topic. David Guss has some wonderful articles on this process in Afro-Venezuela and a new book that just came out called The Festive State (U. of California Press, 2000).

5On pp. 30-31 Boccara cautions against pushing post-modernist critiques and theories of globalization too far. I could not agree with more strongly. When globalization becomes elevated to the prime mover of history, then it loses sight of persistence and cultural creativity at the local level. As Tsing has warned, "our analytic tools for studying global processes lead us back into the very dichotomy that we used them to try to escape: the division between a complex and transcontinentally active core and a static, locally bounded periphery. In the grip of this dichotomy, some places appear to generate the global, while other places seem stuck in the local" (1994: 282).

6Boccara defines "etnificacion" (p. 31) as the construction of different social identities by colonial agents. I like this focus on historical processes and can see where it would complement Neil Whitehead's"tribalisation" (Whitehead 1992). However, I am not quite clear on how Boccara wants to distinguish between "etnificacion" from "etnicization".

7Later (p. 35, paragraph 2) Boccara asserts that the concepts of "middle ground" and ethnogenesis form part of a broader strategy "de salir de los modelos rigidos … con el fin de restitutir toda su complejidad a la realidad colonial." I fully agree with this assertion. I think that ethnogenesis, etnificacion, and similar concepts (such as tribalisation) will serve as useful starting points in escaping the "rigid models" of the past in part because they are intrinsically historical and political concepts (especially the way Sider, myself, and other recent author have developed them). As such, these concepts are resistant to the kind of static taxonomizing that many other concepts have fallen into. I have written another variant of the ethnogenesis model for a book on Cultures in Contact (Hill 1998).

8Boccara cites (p. 63) to Rotter 2000 for the concept of "Occidentalism". The original author to develop this concept was James Carrier in an article in American Ethnologist (1992).

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•Albers, Patricia

1996. "Changing Patterns of Ethnicity in the Northeastern Plains, 1780-1870." In History, Power, and Identity, ed. J. Hill. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, pp. 90-118.

•Carrier, James

1992. Occidentalism: The World Turned Upside-Down. American Ethnologist 19 (2): 195-212.

•Guss, David

2000. The Festive State. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

•Hill, Jonathan

1989 Ritual Production of Environmental History among the Arawakan Wakuénai of Venezuela. Human Ecology 17(1): 1-25.

1993. Keepers of the Sacred Chants: The Poetics of Ritual Power in an Amazonian Society. Tucson: University of Arizona Press.

1996 (editor) History, Power, and Identity: Ethnogenesis in the Americas, 1492-1992. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press.

1998 "Violent Encounters: Ethnogenesis and Ethnocide in Long-Term Contact Situations." In Studies in Culture Contact: Interaction, Culture Change, and Archaeology, James G. Cusick, editor. Carbondale: Center for Archaeological Investigations, Southern Illinois University, pp. 146-171.

1999 Nationalisme, Chamanisme et Histoires Indigenes au Venezuela. Ethnologie Française XXIX(3): 387-396. Special issue on "Ethnicité, Nation, Musées en Situation Post-Coloniale." Gerard Collomb, Editor.

1999 "Indigenous Peoples and the Rise of Independent Nation-States in Lowland South America." IN The Cambridge History of Native Peoples of the Americas: South America, Volume III, Part 2, F. Salomon and S. Schwartz, editors, pp.704-764.

n.d. (co-editor with Fernando Santos-Granero). Comparative Arawakan Histories: Rethinking Language Family and Culture Area in Amazonia. In review at University of Illinois Press.

•Perez, Berta (guest editor)

2000. Colonial Transformations in Venezuela: Anthropology, Archaeology, and History. Special Issue of Ethnohistory, Vol. 47, Nos. 3-4.

•Rumsey, Alan and James F. Weiner (editors)

2001. Emplaced Myth: Space, Narrative, and Knowledge in Aboriginal Australia and Papua New Guinea. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.

•Santos-Granero, Fernando

1998 Writing History into the Landscape: Space, Myth, and Ritual in Contemporary Amazonia. American Ethnologist 25(2): 128-148.

•Tsing, Anna Lowenhaupt

1994. From the Margins. Cultural Anthropology 9(3): 279-297.

•Whitehead, Neil L.

1992 "Tribes Make States and States Make Tribes: Warfare and the Creation of Colonial Tribe and State in Northeastern South America, 1492-1820." In War in the Tribal Zone: Expanding States and Indigenous Warfare. R.B. Ferguson & N.L. Whitehead, eds. Pp.127-150. Santa Fe: School of American Research Press, with the University of Washington Press.

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Jonathan Hill, « Comentarios de Jonathan Hill », Nuevo Mundo Mundos Nuevos [En línea], Debates, Puesto en línea el 08 febrero 2005, consultado el 15 octubre 2019. URL : ; DOI : 10.4000/nuevomundo.515

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