MASATO-DRIKNINGENS SOCIALE RUM: Ashéninkasamfundet i Gran Pajonal


  • Hanne Veber


Hanne Veber: The Social Space of Masato

Drinking and Ashéninka Society in the

Gran Pajonal

Ashéninka natives in the Gran Pajonal, an

isolated area with small and widely dispersed

settlements in the Upper Amazon of eastem

Peru, are fond of drinking masato to the point

of even distinguishing themselves as “the

ones who drink masato”. Masato is a homebrewed

beer made from manioc, the staple

crop and basis of Ashéninka subsistence.

Ashéninka from different settlements

regularly gather for communal drinkingbouts

that get entire communities solidly

intoxicated on masato for two or more days.

The article considers the phenomenon in

terms of its performative capacity for

invoking codified meanings and forms of

interaction central to Ashéninka social life.

From this perspective, the communal

drinking-bout becomes a symbolic medium

of communication where the code for being

Ashéninka is enacted and reiterated. This

implies a social coherence, perhaps the

existence of the thing otherwise refered to by

the term “society”. It includes the scattered

and independent settlement of Ashéninka

who adhere to the code and contribute to its

reproduction. This society, however, is not

an interrelated series of parts that make up a

whole plus something else in the

Durkheimian sense of “the social”. It is

rather a symbolically constructed horizon of

possibilities and expectations, always

provisional and emergent. Masato, then, is

the developer through which the contours of

this Ashéninka society become visible.





Veber, H. (1998). MASATO-DRIKNINGENS SOCIALE RUM: Ashéninkasamfundet i Gran Pajonal. Tidsskriftet Antropologi, (39). Hentet fra