Lecture: "TRACES-OF-WHAT-ONE-DOES-NOT-KNOW"

João Biehl, Susan Dod Brown Professor of Anthropology and Woodrow Wilson School Faculty Associate at Princeton University presents "TRACES-OF-WHAT-ONE-DOES-NOT-KNOW" On the Retellings of a German-Brazilian Fratricide—The 19th Century Mucker [False Saints] War. 

Tuesday, May 08, 2018
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Location: Carson L01

"For over two decades, I have been returning to the place of my beginnings in southern Brazil, looking for traces of the so-called Mucker (literally, those who dig muck: who are false saints and deceitful). In this presentation, I unearth a civil war I grew up hearing from the elderly, a war that profoundly reshaped ideas of human-nonhuman interactions and social belonging in the German-Brazilian settlements. In 1874, the Brazilian National Army hunted down and killed over a hundred settlers who met around the trances and herbal healing of Jacobina and her husband João Jorge Maurer. I draw from erstwhile remnants that came my way throughout the years: from elegiac tombstone inscriptions to communal registers to unwritten reminiscences such as “The Mucker did not cut the tails of their horses” to oral testimonies of Mucker survivors to intergenerational botanical knowledge. I think of these opaque things and the sensorium they had once been a part of as an ‘unfinished system of nonknowledge’ crafted in the face of death. Resurrected from the archive of the horrific, these Mucker traces-of-what-one-does-not-know confront the impunity of those who made the war inevitable and speak to a whole anthropology of the sensible—the inscrutability and renderings of affected, affecting bodies seeking to touch the world with greater intensity."