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The Ecology of the Spoken WordAmazonian Storytelling and Shamanism among the Napo Runa$
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Michael A. Uzendoski and Edith Felicia Calapucha-Tapuy

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780252036569

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252036569.001.0001

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Birds and Humanity

Birds and Humanity

Women’s Songs

(p.79) Chapter 4 Birds and Humanity
The Ecology of the Spoken Word

Mark Hertica

University of Illinois Press

This chapter presents translations and interpretations of six women's songs that speak to the power of the feminine voice and the feminine soul. These songs feature feminine shape-shifting relations between birds and women, fish and women, and similar mimetic transformations in history, such as the rubber boom. In this context, the spoken word becomes musicalized, and the body realizes different cosmological capacities. The chapter shows that the aesthetic features of these songs resonate with the mythological and metaphysical qualities of the Iluku bird, discussed in Chapter 3. These women's songs are also a form of shamanic practice in which the singer experiences her body as a special locus of subjectivity as defined by relations with birds and other alters. When women sing, they report feeling the power (ushay) “in their flesh” (paygunác aychay) of the birds or animals about which they sing.

Keywords:   women's songs, Napo Runa music, feminine voice, feminine soul, shamanic practice

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