Laura Caso Barrera and Mario M. Aliphat F.
Translator Quentin Pope
Personhood, Creativity and Incorporation
Edited by Olívia Maria Gomes da Cunha
Rogério Brittes W. Pires
Life in a Saamaka village is surrounded by rules, from trivial activities such as harvesting fruits to the most formal of public meetings, everything has to be done in the right way, “the way we are used to”. However, these rules seem to be constantly under discussion, there are frequent arguments about which are the rules and how to apply them to each situation. This chapter takes a look at Saamaka politics, trying to understand how deadlocks concerning rules are overcome and how consensus is reached. The main ethnographic are from funerary rituals, activities in which a proper conduct is most important, and thus rules are taken particularly seriously. Brief descriptions of the hierarchy of political offices in Saamaka and the rhetorics in the kuutu (council meetings) will be necessary, in order to understand how authority is conceived and performed, and how rules are established by transforming relationships with the past. The closing arguments contest the recurring description of Maroon polities as “states within a state” and present an alternative approach that takes further into account both Saamaka political philosophy and its inherent relationship with their own style of life.