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The Falling Sky
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About the Author

Davi Kopenawa is a shaman and an internationally known spokesperson of the Brazilian Yanomami. Bruce Albert, a French anthropologist who has worked with the Yanomami in Brazil since 1975, is Research Director at the Research Institute for Development (IRD), Paris, and Associate Researcher at the Instituto Socioambiental (ISA), Sao Paulo.

Reviews

The Falling Sky is several things. It is the autobiography of Davi Kopenawa, one of Brazil s most prominent and eloquent indigenous leaders. It is the most vivid and authentic account of shamanistic philosophy I have ever read. It is also a passionate appeal for the rights of indigenous people and a scathing condemnation of the damage wrought by missionaries, gold miners, and white people s greed. The footnotes alone harbor monographs on Yanomami botany and zoology, mythology, ritual, and history. Most of all, The Falling Sky is an elegy to oral tradition and the power of the spoken word Kopenawa s elaboration of shamanic concepts goes beyond ethnography and becomes a new genre of native philosophical inquiry. When an indigenous narrator this articulate produces an original exegesis of his own worldview, anthropology and anthropologists have become almost obsolete Like his ancestors, whose voices will continue to echo in shamans songs after his death, Davi Kopenawa has made sure that his own powerful words will be preserved.--Glenn Shepard, Jr."New York Review of Books" (11/06/2014)"
Anthropologists and other specialists will find much to relish in this beautifully crafted evocation of Yanomami culture and philosophy. Based on hundreds of hours of interviews taped in native language, it is enriched by almost a hundred pages of footnotes, ethnobiological and geographic glossaries, bibliographical references, detailed indexes and, last but not least, an essay by Bruce Albert on how he wrote the book. While the book resonates with current Western metaphysical angst about finitude, it is written principally as a long shamanic chant that opens up a multitude of interior journeys and provides a new consciousness of the world as a whole The Yanomami have suffered the effects of deadly epidemics, land dispossession and aggressive missionary evangelism. The resulting break in the flow of knowledge between older and younger generations, a lack of communication between indigenous and nonindigenous interlocutors, and a general loss of connection with the natural environment, are common problems. Despite remarkable political gains in the past thirty years, including the adoption of the Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 2007, a health and social crisis is deepening within many indigenous communities. As The Falling Sky makes plain, this crisis is rooted in the symbolic violence exercised by the dominant society, which fails to recognize the value (rather than just the right) of being different and of living in a distinct human collectivity It is, above all, a splendid story told by an exceptional man, who barely knows how to read and write. That the story was written down by an ethnographer who elected not to adjust his research to the canons of academia adds to its importance. The use of the first-person singular to tell the tale involves a fusion of authorial voices, a sign of mutual recognition and true friendship if ever there was one; it lends a musical quality to the resulting heterobiography. Through their sonorous presence, the numerous beings evoked in the shamanic chant usher in the fertility of life as shamans see and feel it. What better way to entice readers away from everyday forgetfulness than to invite them to hear the forest s vast and timeless symphony?--Laura Rival"Times Literary Supplement" (07/11/2014)"
One of the first and best autobiographical narratives by an indigenous lowland Amazonian The book is a mix of autobiography, history, personal philosophy, and cultural criticism of whites for their destruction of the world, worship of the material, and lack of spirituality and vitality The book is not only finely detailed and full of challenging philosophical points, it also contains much humor Ultimately, it is Kopenawa s voice that tells us who he is, who his people are, and who we are to them. It is complex and nuanced; I d go so far as to call The Falling Sky a literary treasure: invaluable as academic reading, but also a must for anyone who wants to understand more of the diverse beauty and wonder of existence.--Daniel L. Everett"New Scientist" (11/18/2013)"

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