Revenge in the Cultures of Lowland South America

Edited by Stephen Beckerman and Paul Valentine

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"A vivid but at the same time authentic and detailed account of how insults and offenses are dealt with by Amazonian tribes still living according to the ancient rule of 'an eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth'."--Robert L. Carneiro, curator of South American ethnology, American Museum of Natural History

"An intriguing study . . . very provocative."--Kenneth M. Kensinger, professor emeritus, Bennington College

This extraordinary ethnography is the first devoted to the study of revenge. The contributors describe this social phenomenon in fourteen tribal societies, comparing its violent manifestations as well as its more idiosyncratic forms. Blood revenge at spear point is common in certain regions of aboriginal lowland South America; in other areas revenge is implicated in seemingly unrelated areas of daily life, from child naming to explanations for sickness.

Revenge is a universal human motive that reveals fundamental social structure as do few other aspects of culture. The contributors discuss the origins, manifestations, and consequences of vengeance. They illustrate not only how revenge lays bare crucial boundaries and is bound to myth and ritual as well as to survival but also show the profound consequences of revenge for reproduction and the daily workings of society.

Stephen Beckerman is associate professor of anthropology at Pennsylvania State University. Paul Valentine is senior lecturer in anthropology at the University of East London.

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