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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Social Memory and the Politics of Place-making in Northeastern Amazonia


Like “nature,” “culture,” and its glamorous sibling “global,” “local” is one of those deeply compromised words our language will not relinquish. So central to so many anthropological projects it is unlikely to be transcended, instead it continues to be both fought over and reinvigorated. In this essay, I imagine the topography of what we might call a methodology of locality. In trying to understand how we can do our thinking about the local, I begin with a disarmingly transparent question: How, in all its specificity, does this place that holds our attention come into being? Pursuing this puzzle provokes ripples of association that shape interpretation like contour lines on a map, destabilize naturalized binaries, and shadow the unruly series of concentric circles through which a place is tied into multiple worlds.

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