Dugout Canoes in Bahia's Mangroves: an Ergological Exercise

Dugout Canoes in Bahia's Mangroves: an Ergological Exercise

This is an ergological project the aim of which is to study the construction, symbolical meaning, economic integration and social manipulation of the dugout canoes (made of vinhático, a local tree menaced with extinction) that constitute the main means of human circulation in the mangroves of southern coastal Bahia (Brazil).  These canoes are indispensable instruments for the human occupation of the mangroves, an extremely rich environment. Thus, through the analysis of use and construction of a material object, we aim to understand something concerning the social environment that, on the one hand, produces it and, on the other, is made viable through it.  The construction methodology is essentially Western, but the object itself is deeply rooted in Amerindian traditions that antecede the moment of Discovery - in this way, the canoe is also a symbol of the longterm history of the social context under study.

Estatuto: 
Proponent entity
Financed: 
No
Keywords: 

Material Culture, Mangroves, Dugout Canoes, Bahia

This is an ergological project the aim of which is to study the construction, symbolical meaning, economic integration and social manipulation of the dugout canoes (made of vinhático, a local tree menaced with extinction) that constitute the main means of human circulation in the mangroves of southern coastal Bahia (Brazil).  These canoes are indispensable instruments for the human occupation of the mangroves, an extremely rich environment. Thus, through the analysis of use and construction of a material object, we aim to understand something concerning the social environment that, on the one hand, produces it and, on the other, is made viable through it.  The construction methodology is essentially Western, but the object itself is deeply rooted in Amerindian traditions that antecede the moment of Discovery - in this way, the canoe is also a symbol of the longterm history of the social context under study.

Objectivos: 
This project has two sides to it.  Firstly, from an analytical point of view, to make a study in ergology - that is, a study of an element of "material culture" where an object of practical use is analysed in order better to understand the human/social environment that both produces it and is produced by it.  The process followed is to  trace the network of connections that expand outwards from the object and that, layer by layer, contextualize it.  Secondly, from a methodological point of view, I aim to explore new ways of carrying out ethnographic reporting.  The purpose here is to use photographs (mainly taken by the researcher and a collaborator, Mónica Chan) and text in an interactive way in order to produce a new type of ethnographic text - one that is as "textual" as it is "visual" without ever being any less analytical.  The final object is to produce a "book" to be read in Powerpoint medium on a computer.
State of the art: 
Very little has been written on dugout canoes in Brazil.  The catalogue called 1º Seminário do Património Naval Brasileiro (Museu Nacional do Mar, Santa Catarina, 2005) is probably the best source from a comparative perspective.  In the past, anthropologists specialized in Brazil such as J. Robbin, Pedro Agostinho Silva and Peter Gow have lectured on the topic extensively, but with the exception of the monograph by Robbin on fishermen in Pernambuco, little has actually been published on the topic.  The rebirth of studies on Material Culture, more generally speaking, has been so intense of late that no small bibliography will suffice to cover adequately the field.
Parceria: 
Unintegrated
Mónica Chan
Coordenador 
Start Date: 
01/01/2008
End Date: 
01/12/2009
Duração: 
23 meses
Closed