The ethnography Peter Wogan's Magical Writing In Salasaca: Literacy and Power in Highland Ecuador was far more intriguing then I had expected.

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Marissa  Cabading

History 205 / Winter 2011

Magical Writing In Salasaca

        The ethnography “Magical Writing In Salasaca: Literacy and Power in Highland Ecuador” was far more intriguing then I had expected. I enjoyed the way the book was organized and felt that it was very easy to follow because Peter Wogan broke his book into different categories and subjects. He breaks the book into categories starting with witchcraft and writing, in which he talks about his personal experiences with the book of names, San Gonzalo, and his personal beliefs on these magical writings. Then he discusses the sources of these magical beliefs and how they affect the culture of the Salasaca.. The following chapter is called God’s book and he discusses the Salasacas beliefs in the world beyond this one. Discussing the accounts of a man named Clemente who returned from the dead to Julia, to whom he stayed with during his time in Equador. Furthermore, he discusses the day of the dead in chapter. I found this chapter the most interesting because I had heard of the day of the dead before, and never knew what it was about. I found it interesting that the day of the dead differed from the Mexican day of the dead. In addition, it surprised me to how the Salasca’s deeply believed in the routine that holy water must be splashed on the list of souls to cool them off. I feel that the author organized all his information in a way that was easily understood and was extremely clear in the concepts that he wrote about. The way the author wrote his ethnography seemed as if it was a story of his accounts, and he did an excellent job describing his experience to create a story as well. Wogan creates a symmetrical analysis of the writings in the Salasacan culture and personal existence. He analyzes how the writings of the Salsacan people and how big of a role it plays in their personal existence. He added interviews in which gave voice to the Salascan people, and I felt added to the complexity of his book. My favorite thing about his writing’s was that at the end of each chapter he put footnotes that further clarified certain aspects of the chapter. Whether, he had more to elaborate on, or definitions to produce clarity in a subject matter without these at the end of each chapter I feel that I would not of been able to understand the book as well. But, I also felt that at the same time it added to the confusion of reading the footnotes at the end of the chapters and drawing my attention to have to puzzle it all together. Lastly, the images he put throughout the book were well placed and aided in the writing to complete each chapter.

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        I found numerous ideas that I found very relevant to this course. I feel that I have learned a vast amount of information on the Salasca’s culture in Latin America in the ways of writing. In the chapter of weaving and writing, he discusses the equation between writing and weaving and how many tourists would come and ask what did their weaving’s mean? Seeing the pictures of the intricate weavings and how the Salasacas prayed to the mountain site for improvement in writing, weaving, and improvements in other tasks demanding fine hand coordination, it truly showed how highly important this ...

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