Cover image for Native religions and cultures of Central and South America
Native religions and cultures of Central and South America
Sullivan, Lawrence Eugene, 1949-
Uniform Title:
Culture e religioni indigene in America centrale e meridionale. English.
Publication Information:
New York : Continuum, [2002]

Physical Description:
330 pages : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm.
pt. 1. Central America. Aztec religion : sacred cities, sacred actions / Davíd Carrasco -- Indigenous mythology from present-day Mexico / Alfredo Lópe Austin -- Ritual and myth in Tlapanec life / Peter L. van der Loo -- Sacred forces of the Mayan universe / Mercedes de la Garza -- pt. 2. South America. The world and its end : cosmologies and eschatologies of South American Indians / Lawrence E. Sullivan -- Contemporary indigenous religious life in Peru / Juan M. Ossio -- The Baniwa / Robin M. Wright -- Inca religion : its foundations in the central Andean context / R. Tom Zuidema -- The religion of the Chamacoco (Ishir) Indians / Edgardo Jorge Cordeu -- The sacred as alienated social consciousness : ritual and cosmology among the Kayapó / Terence Turner -- Fragments of southern Tehuelche religiosity and myths / Alejandra Siffredi.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F2230.1.R3 C8513 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



The New World came into being in the Europeans' encounter with the indigenous religions and cultures of Central and South America. Yet these religions remain little known or are filtered through inadequate categories such as "animism," "superstition," or "syncretism." In this volume, an international group of the finest authorities working on the subject provide rich descriptions and provocative interpretations of religious ideas rarely gathered in one place. Since an exhaustive treatment would be impossible (it is estimated that there could be as many as fifteen thousand different South American languages living or extinct), the aim is to illustrate something of the range of religious beliefs and practices through cases that are exemplary. The first part of the book describes the religious views of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca, dating from the time prior to contact with Europeans. The rest of the book treats contemporary cases from the major cultural and geographical areas of Central and South America. Whether the focus is on myth, architecture, ritual celebrations, or shamanic practice, each essay provides a distinctive profile of the culture in question.Contributors include David Carrasco, Edgardo J. Cordeu, Mercedes de la Garza, Alfredo López Austin, Juan Ossia Acuña, Alejandra Siffredi, Lawrence E. Sullivan, Terence Turner, Peter van der Loo, Robin M. Wright, and Reiner Tom Zuidema.

Author Notes

Authors Bio, not available

Reviews 2

Library Journal Review

Sullivan (director, Ctr. for the Study of World Religions; history of religion, Harvard) has compiled a well-balanced collection of essays by respected scholars on the history and roles of spirituality in a variety of Native American cultures. The groups included are as diverse as the Mescalero Apache, Lakota, Muskogee, and Tlingit. Sullivan's insightful introduction explains why each of the nine essays was selected, providing a broader examination of the ramifications of the anthropological study of Native American spirituality. All the essays unequivocally show that a dynamic religious vitality remains present in the Native American cultures examined. Each explores in depth the historical and contemporary significance of various Native American religious practices as well as the impact wrought by exposure to Christianity over the last two centuries. This excellent collection presents dignified and respectful views of Native American spirituality and is highly recommended for anthropology and religion collections in academic libraries.DElizabeth Salt, Otterbein Coll. Lib., Westerville, OH (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Choice Review

International authorities representing such scholarly disciplines as archaeology, history, cultural anthropology, sociology, linguistics, musicology, political science, and art history depict the wide range of religious concerns and practices found in Central America and South America, with attention to major cultural and geographical regions. Editor Sullivan (history of religion, Harvard) points out that it would be impossible to cover all Central and South American religions in a single volume; therefore, he chose representative ones like the precontact religions of the Aztec, Maya, and Inca as well as contemporary cases from the Andes, the Argentine Chaco, the Amazon forest, and Mexico. Each contributor provides a religious profile of his/her respective area, but each chapter has a slightly different slant. Some contributors address an entire ritual complex; others look at particular aspects of particular rites. Still other essays examine creation myths, shamanism, and links between religion and architecture. In a wide-ranging, comparative analysis of Native ideas relating to the apocalypse, Sullivan argues that South American worldviews are coherent, comprehensive, and amenable to critical analysis. Chapters by Robin Wright and David Carrasco are notable for their rich ethnographic descriptions and innovative interpretations. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates and above. S. D. Glazier University of Nebraska--Lincoln

Table of Contents

IntroductionLawrence E. Sullivan
Part One Central America
1 Aztec Religion: Sacred Cities, Sacred ActionsDavid Carrasco
2 Indigenous Mythology from Present-day MexicoAlfredo López Austin
3 Ritual and Myth in Tlapanec LifePeter L. van der Loo
4 Sacred Forces of the Mayan UniverseMercedes de la Garza
Part Two South America
5 The World and Its End: Cosmologies and Eschatologies of South American IndiansLawrence E. Sullivan
6 Contemporary Indigenous Religious Life in PeruJuan M. Ossio Acuña
7 The BaniwaRobin M. Wright
8 Inca Religion: Its Foundations in the Central Andean ContextR. Tom Zuidema
9 The Religion of the Chamacoco (Ishir) IndiansEdgardo Jorge Cordeu
10 The Sacred as Alienated Social Consciousness: Ritual and Cosmology among the KayapoTerence Turner
11 Fragments of Southern Tehuilche Religiosity and MythsAlejandra Siffredi