This book offers a new anthropological understanding of the socio-cosmological and ontological characteristics of the Isthmo–Colombian Area, beyond established theories for Amazonia, the Andes and Mesoamerica.

It focuses on a core region that has been largely neglected by comparative anthropology in recent decades. Centering on relations between Chibchan groups and their neighbors, the contributions consider prevailing socio-cosmological principles and their relationship to Amazonian animism and Mesoamerican and Andean analogism. Classical notions of area homogeneity are reconsidered and the book formulates an overarching proposal for how to make sense of the heterogeneity of the region’s indigenous groups. Drawing on original fieldwork and comparative analysis, the volume provides a valuable anthropological addition to archaeological and linguistic knowledge of the Isthmo・Colombian Area.

part I|33 pages

The Isthmo–Colombian Area in context

chapter 1|31 pages


Toward an anthropological understanding of the area between the Andes, Mesoamerica, and the Amazon

part II|144 pages

Conceptualizing the Isthmo–Colombian Area from a regional comparative perspective

chapter 2|24 pages

An Amerindian humanism

Order and transformation in Chibchan universes

chapter 3|27 pages

Languages of the Isthmo–Colombian Area and its southeastern borderland

Chibchan, Chocoan, Yukpa, and Wayuunaiki

chapter 5|35 pages

Between Mesoamerica, the Central Andes, and Amazonia

Area conceptions, chronologies, and history

chapter 6|21 pages

The golden ones

The human body as reflective metallic surface in the Isthmo–Colombian Area

part III|166 pages

Case studies

chapter 7|24 pages

Parents who own lives

Relations and persons among the I’ku, a Chibchan group in Colombia1

chapter 8|29 pages

Tuwancha, “the One Who Knows”

Specialists and specialized knowledge in transhuman communication among the Sokorpa Yukpa of the Serranía del Perijá, Colombia

chapter 10|22 pages

Things, life, and humans in Guna Yala (Panama)

Talking about molagana1 and nudsugana2 inside and outside Guna society3

chapter 13|15 pages

Murderous spirits

Shamanic interpretation of armed violence, suicide, and exhumation in the economy of death of the Emberá (Chocó, Antioquia, Colombia)