From the Atlantic to the Indo-Pacific

Creolisation, Magic, and Mimesis in Oceanic Networks

In: Matatu

Abstract

In this paper I attempt to tackle the issues of creolisation, magic, and mimesis, as well as colonialism. I will approach this last via the the first three. I begin by discussing two travel and ethnographic accounts, and then a piece by Diderot. I also discuss Taussig’s work. My overall argument, following closely on the heels of Diderot’s and Taussig’s work, but also somewhat expanding them, is that writing ethnography or any account of ‘others’ involves closely linked and complex processes of creolisation, mimesis, and magic. There is also, of course, a personal dimension to them. Such processes in fact affect not only ethnographic writing, but perhaps any writing. I also include myself in this narrative, albeit only marginally, as someone born and raised in Brazil, perhaps the most famous hub of creolisation ever, and who ventures not only across the South Atlantic, but eventually also into the Indo-Pacific world.

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