Current banana distribution in the Peruvian Amazon basin, with attention to the notion of “Aquinquin” in Shipibo society
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The purpose of this article is to clarify the Shipibo’s distribution of bananas, and to consider the current situation regarding the importance of “aquinquin (sharing)” in their society. The Shipibo people practice food distribution as a custom. While bananas are the major staple food that is eaten most frequently, most households do not supply their own needs. They acquire and exchange bananas in various ways: they get the fruit through requests, as gifts, in requital/exchange, and through purchase in the settlement, as well as through requests to harvest made by the “have-nots” or the gift of harvesting permission by the “haves,” both of which are made through face-to-face communication, as well as distribution without tacit permission or formal notification by field owners. While the Shipibo people consider “sharing” to be important and expect male villagers to produce bananas by themselves, banana distribution has been practiced in a circle that includes “chiquish (lazy)” people who do not have their own banana fields. However, “lazy” people were recently excluded from this circle because of their lack of “shinna (care for others).” The Shipibo people have continued banana distribution with a core notion of “aquinquin,” but it is not an essentialistic and stable custom, rather is the dynamic process of rearrangement for day-to-day as villagers sound out each other’s acceptable situations in their daily life.
Tropics 20(1), 25-40, 2011
JAPAN SOCIETY OF TROPICAL ECOLOGY