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October 2021

Cult Med Psychiatry. 1998 Jun; 22(2): 171-202.

Slipping through sky holes: Yurok body imagery in northern California.

Ferreira MK.

Universidade de São Paulo, Departamento de Antropologia-FFLCH, São Paulo, Brasil. [email protected]

Yurok perceptions of the body as the inscribed surface of social and environmental change are explored in this paper. To the violence and brutality of Spaniards, fur traders, gold miners, American soldiers, and Indian policies of the US government since the eighteenth century, Yurok women attribute the high incidence of degenerative diseases, drug abuse and criminality in northern California. This piece contemplates the lives of eight generations of sixteen Yurok extended families, mapping intergenerational shifts in Yurok social relations and political practices. It considers the mutation of knowledge in the constitution of the natural and social sciences and the effects of this knowledge when implemented in Yurok country. Here, Foucault's genealogical method values what anthropology and biomedicine, for example, tend to disregard in the analysis of descent: the correlation between body and history. This historico-critical investigation shows how certain events mark their power and engrave memories on individuals' bodies. It is within a hybrid set of cross-cultural and interdisciplinary practices that a more fruitful understanding of Yurok body imagery can be fashioned.

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