Giuseppe Bonazzi

The Gospel and Shamans: A Catholic Mission in Amazonia

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Yanomami; Consolata Missionaries; ethnic identity; shamans; traditional religion

In an ethnographic style, the author recounts the main impressions of his stay among the Yanomami people at the Consolata Mission of Catrimani (Roraima, Brasil). The main topics include: the relationship between nakedness and decency; women's condition and fertility; the practice of infanticide and the Missionaries' soft suasion to abandon it; the maloca as a collective dwelling and «theological site»; shamans' activities and their relationship with the Missionaries; difficulties and progress in learning how to read and write and understanding arithmetic; the future perspectives and imminent dangers of the Yanomami people. In the final section of the paper, a general evaluation of the work of the Consolata Missionaries is discussed: a «secular » evaluation which stresses how difficult is to protect the ethnic identity of the Yanomami people in their contacts with white people; at the same time, admiration for the evangelic motivation of the Consolata Missionaries in helping a people to survive with dignity while respecting their traditional religion.

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