“We Go Above”
“We Go Above”
Media Metaphysics and Making Moral Life on Ayoreo Two-Way Radio
This chapter examines the intensive use of a transnational, solar-powered, two-way radio network among recently contacted Ayoreo-speaking people of the Gran Chaco, located on both sides of the Bolivia–Paraguay border. Drawing on the author's months of fieldwork among Ayoreo-speaking people, the chapter shows how such people use two-way radio sets to build cross-border alliances around formulaic expressions of everyday emotion and news of suffering or ill bodies. It considers how such expressions catalyze the circulation of Ayoreo metaphysical theories predicated on the notion that radio circuitry both accelerates and regulates the movement of a soul-matter intrinsic to all forms of moral agency, particularly sympathetic speech, healing, and prayer. These radio metaphysics are aimed at transcending, rather than preserving, the practices and selves associated with a past “tradition” that is now considered dangerously immoral. In this sense, two-way radio becomes an effective technology for collective self-objectification by linguistically standardizing a unique Ayoreo vision of moral modernity around phatic exchanges in a transcendent acoustic space.
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