Malocas and the Annual Cycle

4th March 2020
POSTED IN All Projects, Amazonia, Isthmo-Colombia

The malocas are both their ceremonial centre and their collective day-to-day meeting place, representing communities’ sociocultural strength. They are also the ritual centres for the manejo do mundo (“stewardship of the world”), a set of shamanic practices that focus on the management of the environment according to the ecological-economic calendar and the ceremonial cycle.

The heart of the longhouse is the feather box where the main ceremonial ornaments are held when not in use. That box is hanging next to the left front pillar of the house. Both the maloca and the feather box represent the social and ceremonial status of the owner and his co-resident group, as the most valuable richness of the groups. For this reason, the malocas were for a long time the target of the missionaries, who persistently tried to dismantle them in the Brazilian portion of the Vaupés River basin. This kind of colonial practice was left behind, and for the last twenty years, people from the upriver communities have resumed to rebuild the longhouses, mainly in this area.

Publications related to women’s and maternal health with Wixárika communities by the author of this exhibition


Gamlin, Jennie B. (2013)
Shame as a barrier to health seeking among indigenous Huichol migrant labourers: An interpretive approach of the “violence continuum” and “authoritative knowledge”
Social Science and Medicine 97 75-81

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2023)
Wixárika Practices of Medical Syncretism: An Ontological Proposal for Health in the Anthropocene
Medical Anthropology Theory 10 (2) 1-26

Gamlin, Jennie B. (2020)
“You see, we women, we can’t talk, we can’t have an opinion…”. The coloniality of gender and childbirth practices in Indigenous Wixárika families
Social Science and Medicine 252, 112912

Jennie Gamlin and David Osrin (2020)
Preventable infant deaths, lone births and lack of registration in Mexican indigenous communities: health care services and the afterlife of colonialism
Ethnicity and Health 25 (7)

Jennie Gamlin and Seth Holmes (2018)
Preventable perinatal deaths in indigenous Wixárika communities: an ethnographic study of pregnancy, childbirth and structural violence BMC
Pregnancy and Childbirth 18 (Article number 243) 2018

Gamlin, Jennie B. and Sarah J Hawkes (2015)
Pregnancy and birth in an Indigenous Huichol community: from structural violence to structural policy responses
Culture, health and sexuality 17 (1)