Wednesday, 22 November 2017

Tomas Bartoletti gives a working paper on 'Greek Divination from an Amerindian Perspective: Reconsidering 'Nature' in Mantike'

'Oracles' and 'divination' as subjects of study were constructed fuzzily by Classical Scholarship and Anthropology. This was because they sought to create a universal category in which religious and healing practices from diverse cultural contexts could be incorporated. The limits of this blurred definition became marked by the Christian tradition and European modernity that first understood the diverse practices as demonic idolatry, and then as a product of irrational-primitive thought, directly in opposition to monotheistic faith and institutionalized rational-scientific  knowledge.  With  the 'discovery' of the 'New' World, 'divination'-along with 'magic'-became projected in overseas colonial contexts as conceptual (and even inquisitorial) tools to identify demonic belief and 'primitive-savage' mentalities or, diplomatically, 'exotic' forms of believing and thinking. Although the definition of 'divination' began with being constructed epistemologically on the basis of Ancient sources, it was appropriated as an alterity of scientific rationality and, furthermore,  used  to  catalogue practices of 'other' cultures. In this paper, I propose a symmetricizing reversion to diffract the epistemological interpretation of mantic practices. To do so, I analyse Greek divin ation through an Amerindian perspective, focusing on the Andean notions of cam ac and wak'a documented in different colonial sources, and establish translations that call into question some epistemological principles of the subject  of 'divination', as it was understood based on the Greek tradition. Several meanings of Andean  divination can similarly be traced back to Greek sources. But their meanings were either marginalized  by ClassicalStudies, or a partial and biased selection of certain Creek sources was made, leading to some canonical epistemological path. This symmetricizing reversion between Andean and Greek divination makes it possible to reconsider mantike as a cosmopraxis of eure between beings of a different nature.

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