Runa realism: Upper Amazonian attitudes to nature knowing

  • Kohn E
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Abstract

Stories about the forest recounted in a Quichua-speaking Runa village in Ecuador’s Upper Amazon point to an element of ecological understandings that is rarely studied; these are primarily about capturing and sharing the experience of the process of knowing rather than trafficking in stabilized tokens of ecological knowledge. Runa understanding of nature is achieved through a poetic language rich in what philosopher Charles S. Peirce terms iconic and indexical signs. This way of talking about forest experience is advantageous because these forms of represen- tation can capture qualities and events in the world in ways that what Peirce terms symbols cannot. Iconic and indexical signs mediate the world in distinctive ways. Accordingly, this article suggests some implications that iconically and indexically rich modes of communicating experience have for engaging with the nonhuman realm, acquiring knowledge of the world, and establishing a certain kind of inter- personal social intimacy

Author-supplied keywords

  • Amazonia
  • Ecological knowledge
  • Hunting stories
  • Quichua
  • Semiotics

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Authors

  • Eduardo O. Kohn

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