For two years Alan Campbell lived in a remote area of the Amazon Forest with the Wayapi people. Getting to Know Waiwaichronicles his encounters with them as well as his relationship with their charismatic leader Waiwai. Thinking back to the destruction of the North American Indians, the book looks forward to Wayapi survivors one hundred years from now and considers what will be left for them as the devastation of the Amazon rainforests proceeds. Dealing with ethnographic themes such as material culture and ecology, relationship terms and naming, political power and morality, myths and cosmology, shamanism, birth precautions, cultural change and ethnic survival, Alan Campbell examines the complexities of anthropological theory in a way which is accessible at the most introductory level, without losing any of its subtlety. He presents the cultural description of the Wayapi society in the context of the impact of the encroaching outside world. In doing so headdresses the complex questions of contrast between elegiac sadness for a lost culture and a romantic yearning for an imagined past, the nature of fieldwork as a personal relation, and the difficulties inherent in translating indigenous languages and interpreting other cultures. Getting to Know Waiwaiis a refreshing, beautifully written and original introduction to anthropology, and will be fascinating reading for anyone interested in indigenous peoples, the destruction of the Amazon forests, ethnicity and traditional cultures.
..."classic ethnography about a group of people called the Wayapi...Campbell appropriates verses from Thoreau, Blake, Wordsworth, and Shakespeare...one of the last anthropologists to experience such an "untouched" culture in the face of the increasing transnationalism and western materialism. Salient issues of forced development, "modernization," and assimilation are presented in a well organized and lucid monograph. Its descriptive content (even with its "romance") is refreshing in a generation where many contemporary studies have become preoccupied with global transculturalisms.."
-"Chicago Anthropology Exchange