Essay About Culture Of The Cashinahua And Physical Making Of Persons

Gender and Sociality in Amazonia

Gender and Sociality in Amazonia
Gender and Sociality in Amazonia

The culture of the Cashinahua was studied by Cecilia McCallum in an

attempt to understand the creation of gender and the effects of sociality in

their amazonian culture. She more specifically studied the physical and

symbolic creation of gender within the Cashinahuas culture. McCallums

personal insight allows readers to have a more indepth look at the

Cashinahua culture which enables one to have a better understanding on

how it compares to the considerably modern western culture.This

information is essential to our class discussions because it gives a more

complete insight into a culture instead of the less explanative versions we

often tend to read in our daily class readings.

McCallum discussed in Gender and Sociality in Amazonia the

physical making of persons. She used the metaphor of cooking for the

birthing process. It is a good way of explaining how the Cashinahua

percieve the process of forming a child. The creation of a child or ba va

according to the Cashinahua occurs due to repeated intercourse. This

theory is quite similar to western culture since we know it occurs due to

repeated intercourse without the use of birth control. What is quite unique

about the Cashinahua is that they have interesting concepts on what a child

is made of, believing that semen, or male blood as it is referred
to and

actual blood make up a baby. Western cultures have of course the biology

to prove the semen and the egg theory for making a child. The Cashinahua

also believe that any man who makes repeated love to a woman while she

is pregnant will be the father of the child even if he is not the biological

one. This could be seen as similar to the process of adoption in

westernized cultures, though a parent may not be a biological one the child

is raised by parents as if it was their own.

Another physical aspect of Cashinahua culture that deals with the

physical creation of physical beings is food. Since “Food, like sex, both

make and unmakes bodies.” (McCallum, 17) The Cashinahua believe that

men should drink caissuma, a drink made from corn and peanuts if he

wants to produce healthy children. This could be seen similar to the diets

which many couples trying to have a child go on before pregnancy. It is

also similar to the diets and vitamins pregnant women go on in order to

ensure a healthy pregnancy and child birth. The birth of a child is also

unique in the Cashinahua culture in that a woman delivers her child either

stands or squats in a hammock while her husband supports her. A mother

or close female friend also tends to aid in the delivery. As well as “no man

other than the father can see the genitals of the mother or the blood.”

(McCallum, 19) These beliefs are similar to western culture in that a

womans husband normally helps during the delivery process through

coaching. The use of a woman to help with the birthing process can also

be seen

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