Art Effects


Art Effects

Image, Agency, and Ritual in Amazonia

Carlos Fausto
Translated by David Rodgers

420 pages
45 photographs, 11 illustrations, 5 maps, 7 tables, index


August 2020


$80.00 Add to Cart

June 2024


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eBook (PDF)
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August 2020


$35.00 Add to Cart
eBook (EPUB)
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August 2020


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About the Book

In Art Effects Carlos Fausto explores the interplay between indigenous material culture and ontology in ritual contexts, interpreting the agency of artifacts and indigenous presences and addressing major themes in anthropological theory and art history to study ritual images in the widest sense. Fausto delves into analyses of the body, aerophones, ritual masks, and anthropomorphic effigies while making a broad comparison between Amerindian visual regimes and the Christian imagistic tradition.

Drawing on his extensive fieldwork in Amazonia, Fausto offers a rich tapestry of inductive theorizing in understanding anthropology’s most complex subjects of analysis, such as praxis and materiality, ontology and belief, the power of images and mimesis, anthropomorphism and zoomorphism, and animism and posthumanism. Art Effects also brims with suggestive, hemispheric comparisons of South American and North American indigenous masks. In this tantalizing interdisciplinary work with echoes of Franz Boas, Pierre Clastres, and Claude Lévi-Strauss, among others, Fausto asks: how do objects and ritual images acquire their efficacy and affect human beings?

Author Bio

Carlos Fausto is a professor of anthropology at the National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Braziland a Global Scholar at Princeton University. He is the author of Warfare and Shamanism in Amazonia and coeditor, with Michael Heckenberger, of Time and Memory in Indigenous Amazonia: Anthropological Perspectives. David Rodgers has been based in Brazil for twenty years, working as a translator of academic texts, including numerous books in anthropology.


“[Art Effects] opens enormous comparative possibilities and understanding of other South American areas, helping us to unravel ethnological complexes and features of great breadth. . . . [It] constitutes a solid step in the forging of that comparative dialogue between Amerindian peoples of the vast South America that we so badly need.”—Juan Javier Rivera Andia, Anthropos

“The ethnographic depth and analytical richness of Fausto’s Art Effects are remarkable. The book takes the reader on a fascinating journey through processes of image- and artifact-making among a number of Lowland South American societies.”—Paolo Fortis, HAU: Journal of Ethnographic Theory

“This is the book we have been waiting for. If perspectivism and the ontological turn brought Amazonia in from the cold to enter mainstream anthropology, Fausto’s Art Effects moves the debate forward. . . . Fausto takes us beyond philosophizing and back to the real-life world of masks, musical instruments, and painted images at the heart of Amerindian culture.”—Stephen Hugh-Jones, author of The Palm and the Pleiades: Initiation and Cosmology in Northwest Amazonia

“A liberating text for all those seeking to escape the anthropomorphic bias of image theory. Carlos Fausto’s immersion in two different Amazonian societies allows him to upend some of the reigning models of figuration, mimesis, and presence. Critically engaged, his writing is lucid and engaging.”—Z. S. Strother, author of Inventing Masks: Agency and History in the Art of the Central Pende

“[An] enriching and thought-provoking book. . . . Fausto establishes a constant dialogue between the interpretation of ethnography and the current debates in social anthropology, art history, aesthetics, and philosophy. A great achievement.”—Carlo Severi, author of The Chimera Principle: An Anthropology of Memory and Imagination

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
List of Tables
Orthographic Conventions
Introduction: The Smirk
1. Body-Artifact
2. Wild Mysteries
3. Whirlwinds of Images
4. The Pronominal Effigy
5. A Chief’s Two Bodies
Conclusion: Masters of Deceit
Source Acknowledgments
Works Cited

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