chapter  7
In the Midst of Others: Landscapes of Memory
Pages 32

Human beings are human only to the extent that they are in the midst of others and clothed in symbols that give purpose to their existence.

André Leroi-Gourhan (1993: 313)

Sitting in a plaza village, in the center (hugogo) or in front of the house, the observer has a panoramic view in all directions and is able to see all the big, well-built longhouses (üne) in a great ring and all the major entry points to the village. From some vantage points the observer can see for kilometers along the principal roads, past houses, and occasional fences (or low curbs), and off to the distant horizon. The plaza is an observatory, a vantage point, from which the movements of people or the land can be surveyed, but it also serves as a powerful metaphor that spatially represents relations between humans and all others kinds of social beings, a metanarrative of the universe. In the plaza, people create, interact with, and decompose others persons, as consanguines and affines, as chiefs and common folk, as humans and their “potential affines” (i.e., nature) and with their ancestors, “potential consanguines” (i.e., gods, heroes, and tricksters).