Of Paths and Roads: Makushi world-making on the move
(Museu Paraense Emílio Goeldi)
Paper short abstract:
This paper explores the perceptions and the everyday practicalities of journeys along roads and paths by the Makushi people, a Carib-speaking Pemon group of Southern Guyana. Through the lens of mobility, the production of knowledge, as well as notions of self and other are unfolded.
Paper long abstract:
Movement is central to Makushi sociality, from daily life to cosmogonies. Every day, when going to the forest, neighbouring villages and cities, people use paths and roads which each require different kinds of technologies, knowledge and ways of orientation.
In comparison to the many ephemeral paths, spreading through the savannah and forest islands, "permanent" roads for the Makushi are symbols of external influence, becoming temporal and spatial markers. Paths are made by walking and they meander according to social and narrative cartographies, respecting mythscapes and changing seasons.
Like places, paths and roads gather stories, experiences, adventures, where journeys can turn into lengthy odysseys. Being shared not only by those who happen to live beside them but also by those that just pass through, roads are spaces of encounters that reveal the Amerindian/interior relationship to the nation/coast and to the other side of the border. Knowing how to use genealogical connections and extending the circle of familiarity to strangers, who might be helpful on the way, is an essential part of the practical aspects of being on the move.
This paper will focus on two examples of journeys, one along roads by vehicle, another along paths by walking. The first example, the main dirt road, which cuts through the entire country, connecting the capital of Guyana with Brazil, and the second, the paths leading through Pakaraima mountain communities, will bring to the fore Makushi perceptions and creative processes of world-making connected to these routes.
From paths to roads: the transformative capacities of roads on movement and relationships