Collection Description

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Culture Description

The Mundurucu live in the Brazilian states of Pará and Amazonas. There are two groups of Mundurucu, who live in the basins of two major tributaries of the Amazon, the Tapajós and Madeira rivers. This collection deals primarily with the Río Tapajós group. Mundurucu subsistence focuses on agriculture supplemented with hunting and fishing.


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South America --Amazon and Orinoco



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are reference by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The Mundurucu collection consists of 16 documents, 12 in English, two are translations from the Portuguese, (Tocantins, 1877, no. 1 and Frikel, 1959, no. 14), one from the German, (Martius, 1867, no. 3), and one from French, (Nimuendajú, 1938, no. 9). The geographical focus of the collection is primarily on the Mundurucu of the Tapajós River area, with a temporal focus on the period of 1952-1953 when the Murphys (Robert and Yolanda) did their field work in the area, and 1979-1981 when Burkhalter did his study of the Mundurucu. The eight studies by the Murphys comprise the major portion of this collection, and, limited as they are to the early 1950s, cover a wide range of ethnographic topics relevant to the Mundurucu. For this broad ethnographic coverage see the following: Murphy, 1954, 1959, 1959, 1958, and 1960, nos. 5-7, 11-12). The document by Burkhalter and Murphy (1989, no. 17) is of significant importance to this collection because it describes socio-cultural changes that have taken place in Mundurucu society from the end of the Murphy's field work (1952-1953) to that of Burkhalter's in (1979-1981). Historical depth to the collection is provided in the works of Tocantins (1877, no. 1), and in Martius (1817, no. 3), both of which provide brief ethnographic summaries of the Mundurucu for the nineteenth century. Other works of some significance in the collection are : Linguistics in Nimuendajú (1938, no. 9); socio-cultural change and acculturation during the latter part of the twentieth century (i.e., 1979-1981), by Burkhalter (1982, no. 15), and agriculture in Frikel (1959, no. 14).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

This culture summary is from the article "Mundurucu", by Steven Burkhalter in the Encyclopedia of World Cultures, Vol. 7, 1994, Johannes Wilbert, editor. Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall & Co. The synopsis and indexing notes were written by John Beierle in July 2001.

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John Beierle

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