This is the first book to focus directly on gender in Amazonia for nearly thirty years. Research on gender and sexual identity has become central to social science during that time, but studies have concentrated on other places and people, leaving the gendered experiences of indigenous Amazonians relatively unexplored.
McCallum explores little-known aspects of the day-to-day lives of Amazonian peoples in Brazil and Peru. Taking a closer look at the lives of the Cashinahua people, the book provides fascinating insights into conception, pregnancy and birth; naming rituals and initiation ceremonies; concepts of space and time; community and leadership; exchange and production practices; and the philosophy of daily life itself. Through this prism it shows that in fact gender is not merely an aspect of Amazonian social life, but its central axis and driving force. Gender does not just affect personal identity, but has implications for the whole of community life and social organization. The author illustrates how gender is continually created and maintained, and how social forms emerge from the practices of gendered persons in interaction. Throughout their lives, people are 'being made' in this part of the Amazon, and the whole of social organization is predicated on this conception. The author reveals the complex inter-relationships that link gender distinctions with the body, systems of exchange and politics. In so doing, she develops a specific theoretical model of gender and sociality that reshapes our understanding of Amazonian social processes. Building on the key works from past decades, this book challenges and extends current understandings of gender, society and the indigenous people of Amazonia.