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Fluent Selves examines narrative practices throughout lowland South America focusing on indigenous communities in Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, and Peru, illuminating the social and cultural processes that make the past as important as the present for these peoples. This collection brings together leading scholars in the fields of anthropology and linguistics to examine the intersection of these narratives of the past with the construction of personhood. The volume’s exploration of autobiographical and biographical accounts raises questions about fieldwork, ethical practices, and cultural boundaries in the study of anthropology.
Rather than relying on a simple opposition between the “Western individual” and the non-Western rest, contributors to Fluent Selves explore the complex interplay of both individualizing as well as relational personhood in these practices. Transcending classic debates over the categorization of “myth” and “history,” the autobiographical and biographical narratives in Fluent Selves illustrate the very medium in which several modes of engaging with the past meet, are reconciled, and reemerge.