Perspectivism and the Decolonization of the Subject

Deleuze’s sketch for the inflection point in the fold.

Deleuze’s sketch for the inflection point in the fold.

Perspectivism and the Decolonization of the Subject

The more the colonized has assimilated the cultural values of the metropolis, the more he will have escaped the bush.

— Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks[1]

To understand the terms of the colonial difference established in the last 500 hundred years between colonizer and colonized it is necessary to disassemble the ideas of man and humanity that have been at the center of the European thought since the Renaissance. Walter Mignolo is one of the authors exploring the “hidden connections” between the logic of coloniality, which is based on a Eurocentric idea of man, and the rhetoric of modernity, which acts through a constant redefinition of the human being “at the expense of women, non-Christians, people of color, and homosexuals.”[2] The modern human being is still the exclusionary vitruvian model that has been naturalized and transmitted from generation to generation by a colonial epistemology born within empire. The “pagans” and “barbarians” of the Renaissance and the “uncivilized peoples” of the nineteenth century era are the “underdeveloped” ones of today. In this modernity, the majority of humans is viewed as a mass of inchoate proto-humans waiting for the day they will ascend to the standards set by the epistemology produced in the realms of the already-developed world. Even after the demise of colonialism and imperialism, a logic of coloniality is still behind this soteriological rhetoric seeking to rescue from a sub-humanity state all those who cannot or do not want to fit into the mold that determines what it is to be properly a human.[3] According to Mignolo, “the conditions for citizenship are still tied to a racialized hierarchy of human beings that depends on universal categories of thought created and enacted from the identitarian perspectives of European Christianity by white males.”[4]

Too often those humans who failed to achieve the standards set by this imperial epistemology were equated to animals. Both the Cartesian rational ego and the liberal individual self were built upon the differentiation between proper humans and barbarians/animals. In the overseas quest to dominate savage tribes and savage natures, colonialism and imperialism were both legitimized by European humanism.[5] For the modern European thought, animal — in all the essentialism of a concept grouping together an infinity of different creatures, species, and modes of being — is the fundamental opposite of human. To “lower” entire populations to the level of animals was and still is the main intellectual operation performed by Westerners before acts of extreme oppression. After a being is considered not human, or not quite human, she can be subject to every arbitrary act, from forced labor to enslavement to execution. Even in less extreme cases of imperialism, animality is still that from which humanity ought to distance itself, and civilizing a savage people is the act of elimination of all the animal passions and irrational instincts they cannot eliminate by themselves.

A Shabat for both animal and man

The divide between human and animal is of crucial importance not only for attempts of decolonization of thought. Animals are part of the conceptualization of subjectivity, politics, ethics, but at the same time are excluded from the final outcome of these philosophical exercises. According to Kelly Oliver, animals are at the same time the “invisible support” for every philosophical enquiry and the radical Other that has no place within the otherness that is the subject of philosophy.[6] Even the antihumanist tradition within Western thought continues to present a latent humanism that is based on an animal pedagogy using animals as way to learn what is to be human. According to Oliver, “[the animal pedagogy] repeats the very power structure of subject and object, of us versus them, that the ethics of difference is purportedly working against…”[7]

Matthew Calarco identifies in Giorgio Agamben’s The Open: Man and Animal an attempt to account for being human in genuinely postmetaphysical and posthumanist terms through the abandonment of the quest for a definition of humanity based on the human-animal distinction. Calarco places Agamben in the school of posthumanist thinkers seeking to grapple with the logics and consequences of humanism’s foundational moment — the division between animality and humanity. According to Calarco, the posthumanist critique is primarily an endeavor that seeks to investigate the preconditions to human subjectivity. To do this, philosophers like Agamben have to recognize that the presubjective conditions behind establishing subjectivity “cannot easily be restricted to human subjectivity.” As Calarco puts it, “at this level of presubjective and prepersonal singularities, there are no clear-cut criteria for distinguishing animal modes of exposure from human modes…”[8]

Oliver affirms that the divide between animal and human is also political. This dividing line is what sets the conditions for inclusion in humanity. Agamben calls anthropological machine the mechanism responsible for including and excluding beings into or from humanity based on a human-animal distinction. There are two variants of the anthropological machine, the modern and the pre-modern. The modern anthropological machine uses scientific discourse to account for the ascension of the fully developed human from its own animality, severing it from the rest of the animals. It allows for the “non-man produced within man”, including the pre-historical ape-man, the comatose or, in the case of Nazi Germany, the Jew.[9] The pre-modern anthropological machine presents the inverse mechanism: “rather than animalizing certain aspects of the human, animal life is itself humanized.”[10] What marks the outside boundaries of humanity is the inverse process of producing the non-man by the humanization of the animal. This is the case of the infant-savage, the wolf-man, the slave, and the barbarian. At the core of the machine lies an empty space devoid of any exclusively human trait prone to be unconcealed to set a line separating human from animal. As Calarco puts it, this is not about questioning the fact that there are differences between the human animal and all the other animals (and that there are those differences among the animals themselves), but rather, it is about “recognizing that what constitutes ‘the human’ and ‘the animal’ is never simply a neutral scientific and ontological matter.”[11] In fact, it is an operation that has tremendous political and ethical repercussions to the lives of those considered animals, and those who, in some contexts, are considered not fully human. Agamben is concerned with the perils related to the creation of the third category situated between human and animal. The emerging of this category seems the logical consequence of the anthropological machine at work, and according to him,

What would thus be obtained, however, is neither an animal life nor a human life, but only a life that is separated and excluded from itself — only a bare life. And faced with this extreme figure of the human and the inhuman, it is not so much a matter of asking which of the two machines (or of the two variants of the same machine) is better or more effective — or, rather, less lethal and bloody — as it is of understanding how they work so that we might, eventually, be able to stop them.[12]

As bare life, all creatures lose all meaning and are reduced to a biological body, incapable of being known or interpreted. That is what happens to animals in a modern slaughterhouse, and that is what also happened to humans in several moments throughout history, from the reduction of African slaves to the status of anthropomorphic animals to the transformation of Jews into animalized humans. To stop the anthropological machine located at the heart of the conception of human being, Agamben opts for a suspension of all distinctions between human animals and the other animals — “a Shabat of both animal and man.”[13]

Retreat — the solution proposed by Agamben to jam the anthropological machine — only makes sense if one takes the actual status of animals in modern society for granted. If animals are always denigrated, every definition opposing humanity to animality risks leaving humans in the denigrated outside. As Oliver puts it, “justifying abusing or killing some ‘people’ by arguing that they are animals or like animals is compelling only if we assume that animals deserve, or even require, abuse and slaughter.”[14] One way out of this conundrum is changing the status of animals through a revaluation of animality within the Western binary parameters of the division between human and animal. This is what lies behind the proposals for extension of rights or consideration to animals based on the attributes they share with humans (i.e. the capacity to suffer or the innate right to live). Another way out could be to search elsewhere for a different manner of conceptualizing the divide between human and animal.

Perspectivism

Following the trail left by the philosopher Giuseppe Cocco, I propose that the reflection on the Amerindian cosmology advanced by the Brazilian anthropologist Eduardo Viveiros de Castro can be invested with the task of deconstructing the foundational dichotomies of Western thought: human/animal, subject/object, and culture/nature. After years of interactions and ambivalent coexistence with indigenous communities, Viveiros de Castro identified a radical perspectivism — more vital and powerful than its Western equivalent of the philosophies of difference — in these societies. This perspectivism — that the anthropologist believes be the common denominator of the Amerindian people as a whole — dissipate the divisions between human and animal and thus shuffle the canonical referents of human and natural sciences. However, at first, a brief genealogy for Viveiros de Castro’s perspectivism is necessary.

Viveiros de Castro project for an Amerindian perspectivism derives from Gilles Deleuze’s rescue of the seventeenth-century Baroque mathematics of Gottfried Leibniz. In The Fold, Leibniz and the Baroque, Deleuze argues that Western philosophy had fallen short of associating the Baroque with a philosophical thought and the connection between the two had to pass through the work of Leibniz. To Deleuze, Leibniz was the philosopher of the Baroque par excellence, and his philosophy, is crucial for the understanding of the contemporary world. In the seventeenth century, Leibniz rethought the problem of the point of view and the perspective through the idea of the fold. Deleuze’s paraphrasing of Leibniz’s mathematics provides Viveiros de Castro with the tools to articulate a cosmology based on the Amerindian thought. One of these tools is the idea that in Leibniz’s Baroque world, what is important is not the essence, but rather the operative function, the trait.[15] The second important idea is that, for Leibniz, the point of view is not located in the spirit, but in the body. This embodiment of the perspective is crucially important for Viveiros de Castro’s differentiation between body and soul, perspective and representation.[16] The last tool is the most important; it is the differentiation between point and place. Leibniz’s Baroque geometry concentrates itself on the variable curve, the fold, the inflection. It stands against the Cartesian world in that for Leibniz there is not a firm point to be set in motion by a exterior force. The fold is not a point; it cannot be determined by Cartesian coordinates and, in the fold, it is not possible to determine the existent angle between two particular points. According to Deleuze,

As Leibniz stated, there can never be “a straight line without curves intermingled,” nor any “curve of a certain finite nature unmixed with some other, and in small parts as well as large,” such that one, “will never be able to fix upon a certain precise surface in a body as one might if there were atoms.”[17]

In this Baroque mathematics, tangents are neither straight, nor unique, nor touching, but infinitively curvilinear, and the object “is no longer defined by an essential form,” but rather by a functionality. Not only the status of the object is modified, but the subject itself is profoundly changed, as it moves “from inflection or from variable curvature to vectors of curvature that go in the direction of concavity.” Leibniz’s perspectivism is not a variation of truth “according to the subject, but the condition in which the truth of a variation appears to the subject. ”[18] For Deleuze,

Such is the basis of perspectivism, which does not mean a dependence in respect to a pregiven or defined subject; to the contrary, a subject will be what comes to the point of view, or rather what remains in the point of view.” [Italics mine][19]

Viveiros de Castro transposes this Deleuzian re-reading of perspectivism to native Brazilian ontologies. For him, it is a way out of the dualist straitjacket present in Lévi-Strauss’ structuralism. At the same time, it allows for a return of the dualisms, which are seen now as a heuristic device to conceptualize the Amerindian thought. Structuralist dualisms give him the tools to identify a radically different Amerindian economy of alterity, and a perspectivist employment of these dualisms enables him to detect the very own dualist limits of structuralism itself. He thinks of himself as shaped by structuralism, but not confined by it.[20] Citing Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, Viveiros de Castro makes explicit the inevitability of using the “dualisms of models to arrive at a process that challenges all the models.”[21]

Multinaturalism

Using Deleuzian perspectivism as the solution for the constraints poised by structuralism, Viveiros de Castro takes elements from different Amazonian cosmologies to propose the term multinaturalism, contrasting Amerindian thought to the modern “multiculturalist” conceptions. For Viveiros de Castro the concept of multinaturalism presents a world populated by different species of subjects, from non-humans to humans, who apprehend it according to discrete points of view. To Viveiros de Castro, whereas the modern multinaturalism is “founded on the mutual implication of the unity of nature and the plurality of cultures — the first guaranteed by the objective universality of body and substance, the second generated by the subjective particularity of spirit and meaning,” the Amerindian conception of multinaturalism “suppose[s] a spiritual unity and a corporeal diversity. Here, culture or the subject would be the form of the universal, whilst nature or the object would be the form of the particular.”[22]

The move proposed by Viveiros de Castro is not a simple inversion of the terms of the modern binary relation between Nature and Culture, for in the “Amerindian thought, they not only do not subsume the same contents as they do not have the same status as their Western analogues; they do not indicate regions of being, but rather relational configurations, mobile perspectives, in sum — points of view.” [23]

In the Amazonian cosmologies studied by Viveiros de Castro, the way humans view animals is profoundly different from how animals see themselves. In this cosmology, the animals are humans, or see themselves as humans. Here, “the manifest form of each species is mere envelope (a ‘clothing’) which conceals an internal human form, usually visible only to the eyes of its own species.”[24] This internal form, the spirit of the animal, is an intentionality/subjectivity identical to its human counterpart, but it is one that varies in intensity according the point of view. Thus, not all subjects are as human as the humans, and some are even more human than humans themselves, as they perform human potentialities in a more complex manner. Moreover, the very ‘clothing’ which conceals human intentionality/subjectivity among different types of beings can be changed accordingly to the situation — animals that metamorphose into humans and are saw as humans by other humans; humans that become jaguars and are then seen as jaguars by humans and as humans by the other jaguars/humans, in addition to see the other fellow jaguars as humans.

All of this relates to a universal notion common to the Amerindian thought that believes in an original state where humans did not differentiate themselves from animals. According to Viveiros de Castro,

… it is not a process of differentiating the human from the animal, as is in our own evolutionist mythology. The original common condition of both humans and animals is not animality but rather humanity. The great mythical separation reveals not so much culture distinguishing itself from nature but rather nature distancing itself from culture… Humans are those who continue as they have always been: animals are ex-humans, not human ex-animals. [Italics mine][25]

Amerindian cosmologies are the inversion of the modern historicist narratives as exposed by Dipesh Chakrabarty; in modern historicism, change only happens to the group who controls the epistemology (the modern ones), whereas the others (colonized peoples, animals, nature) remain pre- or a-historical; in Amerindian perspectivism, change exists, but not for the group establishing the universal measure of humanity (the Amerindians), as it is something that only happens to the others, or because of them.[26] The humanity Viveiros de Castro identifies in Amerindian cosmology is not based on a human nature shared by all men as members of the same species; rather, it derives from a common condition of all mankind (including the humanity wearing the ‘envelope’ of people, of jaguar, of tapir, and so on). Humanity is a condition, not a species.

In Amerindian cosmology, shamanism is what allows Native Americans to cross the bodily boundaries to adopt the “perspective of alo-specific subjectivities.” This way of knowledge establishes an epistemology that is, in a sense, opposed to the modern one. As Viveiros de Castro puts it, in modern cosmology “both subjects and objects are seen as resulting from processes of objectification: the subject is constituted and recognizes himself in the objects it produces, and he knows himself objectively once he is able to see himself from the ‘outside’ as a ‘this’ … The form of the Other is the thing.” In Amerindian shamanism, the inverse ideal occurs — to known is to personify, putting oneself in another’s point of view, to interpret one’s intentionality (even when the other is what Westerners consider an ‘object’). The shamanic knowledge never aims at a something, but always a someone. It is a hermeneutics of the world. “Here, the form of the Other is a person.”[27] In this cosmology, the way the world is assessed, the manner of knowing, is through personification, not distancing. What enables this personification is a universal culture, which despite being concealed beneath the ‘clothing’ of animals and other subjects, is available to be interpreted by the shaman. Thus, in the world of extra-human subjectivities, culture can be redefined in human terms from its “natural” correlates; what ordinary humans see as the “blood” jaguars drink from their prey, is seen by the shaman (and by the jaguars/humans) as cauim (beer), the same beverage drunk by the humans/ humans; a muddy ravine becomes a great ceremonial house for tapirs, and so on. What the modern call nature is culture for the Amerindian cosmology.

However, if the animals are essentially human, what is the difference between humans and animals? Could this difference be a version of the classic opposition between appearance and essence? According to Viveiros de Castro, the first thing to consider is that what is commonly translated as “human being” in the indigenous languages does not denote humanity as natural species, rather, it is word for the social condition of being people. In the Amerindian languages, words for “human being” acquire a function that is more pragmatic/syntactic than denotative; they are not so much nouns as pronouns. As Viveiros de Castro explains this; “the collective self-designations of the kind ‘human being’ mean ‘person,’ not ‘members of the human species;’ and they are personal pronouns, not personal nouns.” [28] These characteristics of the names of human beings are shared by the designation of substances as “fish”, “snake”, “canoe”, all of which occupy an intermediate place between nouns and pronouns. These can be compared with the names for kinship in modern languages. The word “father,” for example, is not defined by a feature in itself, but by a relationship — someone is a father because he occupies a position in relation to a child. Paternity is defined by a relation. Similarly, being a fish or a snake is defined by a relation; something is only a fish because it is fish for something or for someone else. There is no essence, representation or relativism in play. In this world both fishty and paternity are defined by a relation. At the heart of these relations lie a natural relativism and a cultural universalism. The nature of the subjects varies (variable ontology), but the culture is one (constant epistemology).

The difference of bodies between the persons harbors this relational ontology. Paraphrasing Deleuze, who is in turn citing Leibniz, Viveiros de Castro affirms that “a perspective is not a representation because representations are a quality of the spirit, but the point of view is in the body.” [29] Being capable of a point of view is a potentiality of the soul, but the difference between points of view is determined by the specificity of bodies, which are not thought as a physiological reality, but as a habitus.[30] Thus, in the colonial encounter in the fifteenth century, the difference between Amerindians and Europeans was determined by discrete views on the universality of body and soul. For their part, Europeans did not doubt Amerindians had a body — animals have bodies too — but questioned the existence of the Other’s soul. From the perspective of the Amerindians, the opposite occurred: the Europeans, like the animals, had souls; the actual question was what kind of body they had — whether it was a human body or one of spirits, imperishable.

Cannibalist decolonization

In the Amerindian cosmologies, the common humanity of the beings relates to a complex of dietary restrictions. When humans consume animals, they need first to desubjectify them through a shamanic ritual, thus “neutralizing their spirit, transforming their flesh into vegetable.” [31] There is a parallel here between Western solipsism and Amerindian cannibalism, for to the former the similarity of bodies does not guarantee the community of spirits, while for the latter the sameness of spirits cannot overcome the differences of bodies. Yet, there are moderns who opt for radical solipsism, and Amerindians who practice extreme cannibalism. Deliberate Cannibalism goes to the opposite direction of the desubjectification of animals — here, “what is aspired is precisely the incorporation of the subjective aspect of the enemy, who is, therefore, hyper-subjectified.”[32]

The cannibalism of the Tupi peoples of the sixteenth century consisted on the ritual consumption of the enemy by the whole tribe. Viveiros de Castro presents it an extreme form of Amerindian perspectivism; it is the identification with the enemy and the self-determination through the Other that defines an ontological predation. The enemy chosen for consumption was the most combative or the smartest. Once devoured, the whole tribe obtained his strength. Cannibalism is an extreme form of an economy of alterity. According to Viveiros de Castro, “the capture of alterities outside the socius and its subordination to the ‘internal’ social logic … were the motor and the main motivation for this society, accounting for its centrifugal impulse. … Cannibal vengeance and ideological voracity expressed the same propensity and the same desire: to absorb the other and to change in this process.”[33]

In the early twentieth century, the cannibalism of the colonial Brazilian Amerindians served as inspiration for some writers that were part of the Brazilian artistic vanguards of the 1920s. They conceive the idea of antropofagia (cannibalism) as a way of thinking about the relation between Europe and Brazil in anti-colonial terms. In 1928, Oswald de Andrade launched its Manifesto Antropofágico (Manifesto Cannibalist) reinterpreting the Tupi cannibalism as resolution to the identity and cultural impasse created by the colonial experience. His argument is that the Brazilian tradition of “cannibalizing” other cultures is its greatest strength. Antropofagia becomes a way for Brazil to assert itself against European colonial domination. The iconic phrase of the manifesto is “Tupi or not Tupi: that is the question.” [34] The phrase is both a celebration of Tupi cannibalism (as detailed in the sixteenth centuries accounts of Andrew Thevet, Hans Staden, Jean de Lery), and an example of metaphorical cannibalism: Shakespeare is devoured, digested and regurgitated.

For Viveiros de Castro, antropofagia anticipates Amerindian perspectivism in other terms, such as the cultural devouring of European colonizers. In fact, the manifesto’s beauty and power lie in its double avoidance, from the subjugation by white “high” culture imported from Europe, and from a national identity grounded on the myth of Indianism, racial democracy and tropical roots. Antropofagia’s anti-colonialism did not imply nationalism and, even less, a Brazilian isolationism in the face of Europe. Rather, as stated by Cocco, antropofagia was “a war machine to plunder from the rich Europe what interests us.”[35] The “anthropophagous” anti-colonialism implied overcoming any maneuver aimed at explaining Brazilian problems only by exogenous determinants — colonialism was also an internal affair, as attested by the domination of Amerindian nations by the “civilized” parts of Brazil. Antropofagia did not form for any sort of national alliance. In the early twentieth century, Oswald de Andrade was anti-colonial and anti-nationalist, which does not mean he despised the foreign and national. In fact, he proposed to devour them indiscriminately and then digest and regurgitate them to create a mixed and hybrid culture, both locally and globally.

Decolonization of humans and other animals

Amerindian perspectivism enables a move even more radical than the cultural decolonization of antropofagia, in that it blurs the boundaries between man and animal that are at the heart of modern thought. Giuseppe Cocco notices that, “the ontology of the animist cosmologies shows how the natural relativism … goes along to a cultural universalism that does not limits the subjectivation process only to humans.”[36] If all the relations between humans, and between humans other animals, are not objective, but intersubjective, the reduction of humans to the traditional lower status of animals is unconceivable. There is simply no openness to a lower, more natural or animal status of being. Along these lines, the very Amerindians that provided Viveiros de Castro with an ontology, are neither primitive beings, more natural than cultural, who should be subject to modern civilization, nor the bearers of a primitive truth that was lost by modern humans in their modern process of transcendence (or decay). According to Cocco, “the question of nature, of ‘native’ peoples, is a social issue, and as such, is a matter of democracy, whereas democracy itself is an issue of multiplicity, difference and relationism.”[37]

Transcendence from Nature, which allows domination, is the basis of the major Western systems of thought, from Christianity to Liberalism to Marxism. Perspectivism does not allows for transcendence, for that what is natural in the modern world is a social relation in the Amerindian cosmology. Therefore, there is neither an animal within man to be tamed nor a wild outside him to be civilized. Similarly, there is not such a thing as a “pristine wilderness” to be conquered or preserved. A belief in the “virginity” of tropical forests does not take into account the millennia of interaction between these biomes and the humans who live in them.[38]

The modern dialectic between subject and object is overcome by the relation between subjects. According to Philippe Descola, “in this mode of identification, natural objects do not constitute, therefore, a system of signs that allows for categorical transpositions … but a collection of individuals with whom men engage in everyday social relations.”[39] In perspectivism, Agamben’s space of the bare-life is not empty at all. In fact, it is full of overlapping and interconnected subjectivities that are independent from naturalized compartments. There is no longer a divide between nature and culture to enable humans to separate themselves from their animality and achieve a transcendence allowing for the domination over the non-humans, pagans, and barbarians. If nature and animality does not allow for transcendence, it is because they are now entirely conceived as phenomena internal to the general social dynamics. The divide between man and animal is abolished in the dualistic terms of Western thought. There is no longer a shared animal body to be isolated and used for the denigration of man in the colonial terms of the de- or sub-humanization of the Other. The division goes away as a multinaturalist ontology renders nature into an irrelevant factor in an economy of subjects where every being is granted with a potential and equal personhood that is independent of its commensurability with a Western model of human.

Bibliography

Agamben, Giorgio. The Open: Man and Animal. Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press, 2004.

Andrade, Oswald. “Cannibalist Manifesto”, translated by Leslie Barry. In Latin American Literary Review. Vol. 19, No. 38, Jul. – Dec., 1991. 38-47.

Calarco, Matthew. Zoographies: the Question of the Animal From Heidegger to Derrida. New York: Columbia University Press, 2008.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2008.

Cocco, Guiseppe. MundoBraz: O Devir-Mundo do Brasil e o Devir-Brasil do Mundo. Rio de Janeiro: Record, 2009.

Deleuze, Gilles, Félix Guattari. A Thousand Plateaus: Capitalism and Schizophrenia. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1987.

Deleuze, Gilles. The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 1993.

Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks, New York: Groove, 2008,

Mignolo, Walter. “Citizeship, Knowledge, and the Limits of Humanity.” American Literary History. Volume 18, Number 2, Summer 2006.

———. The Idea of Latin America. Malden, MA: Blackwell Pub., 2005.

Oliver, Kelly. Animal Lessons: How They Teach Us to Be Human. New York: Columbia University Press, 2009.

Viveiros de Castro, Eduardo. A Inconstância da Alma Selvagem e Outros Ensaios de Antropologia. São Paulo: Cosac & Naify, 2002.

———. “Les Pronoms Cosmologiques et le Perspectivism Amérindien.” In Eric Alliez. Gilles Deleuze: Une Vie Philosophique. Le Plessis-Robinson, France: Institut Synthélabo pour le progrès de la connaissance, 1998.

———. “Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism.” The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute. Vol. 4, No. 3, Sep., 1998.

Wacquant, Loïc. “Habitus,” International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology, edited by Jens Beckert and Milan Zafirovski. London: Routledge, 2005.


[1] Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, 2.

[2] Walter Mignolo, “Citizenship, Knowledge, and the Limits of Humanity,” 312.

[3] In his critique of the conception of Latin America, Mignolo explains the difference between “colonialism” and “coloniality”; by affirming that, in the case of the American societies, after the independences, “dependency’ did not vanish; it was simply restructured.” In order to address a situation of domination that persists after colonialism, he proposes the category of “coloniality,” which stands for the “underlying matrix of colonial power that was maintained, in the US and in South America and the Caribbean, after independence.” Walter Mignolo, The idea of Latin America, 68-9.

[4] Mignolo, “Citizenship, Knowledge, and the Limits of Humanity,” 313.

[5] Philip Armstrong, “The Postcolonial Animal,” 414.

[6] Kelly Oliver, Animal Lessons, 4.

[7] Oliver, ibid., 5

[8] Matthew Calarco, Zoographies, 89.

[9] Giorgio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal, 37.

[10] Calarco, ibid., 93.

[11] Calarco, ibid., 94

[12] Agamben, ibid., 37-38

[13] Agamben, ibid., 92

[14] Oliver, ibid., 236

[15] Gilles Deleuze, The Fold, Leibniz, and the Baroque, xi, 3.

[16] Deleuze, ibid., 10.

[17] Deleuze, ibid., 14.

[18] Deleuze, ibid., 19.

[19] I believe the expression place of view would better translate the idea behind the perspectivism. Gilles Deleuze, ibid,. 19-20.

[20] Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, A Inconstância da Alma Selvagem, 18-20

[21] Gilles Deleuze and Féliz Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, 20.

[22] Eduardo Viveiros de Castro, “Cosmological Deixis and Amerindian Perspectivism,” 470.

[23] Viveiros de Castro, A Inconstância da Alma Selvagem, 349.

[24] Viveiros, de Castro, ibid., 351.

[25] Viveiros de Castro, “Cosmological Deixis…”, 471-2.

[26] Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe.

[27] Viveiros de Castro, A Inconstância da Alma Selvagem, 358.

[28] Viveiros de Castro, ibid., 372.

[29] Viveiros de Castro, ibid., 380.

[30] Habitus as an assemblage of manners or ways that define a collectivity was a concept used in different ways by Aristotle, Émile Durkheim, Max Weber, Norbert Elias, Marcel Mauss and more recently Pierre Bourdieu. Viveiros de Castro seems to be the first to apply the concept to the non-humans. Loïc Wacquant, “Habitus,” International Encyclopedia of Economic Sociology.

[31] Viveiros de Castro, A Inconstância da Alma Selvagem, 392.

[32] Viveiros de Castro. ibid., 392.

[33] Viveiros de Castro. ibid., 207.

[34] Oswald de Andrade, “Cannibalist Manifesto,” 38-47.

[35] Guiseppe Cocco, MundoBraz, 236.

[36] Cocco, ibid., 188.

[37] Cocco, ibid., 181.

[38] William Balée, Advances In Historical Ecology.

[39] Philippe Descola, Par-delà Nature et Culture, (Paris: Gallimard, 2005), 178, cited by Guiseppe Cocco, MundoBraz, 64.