Falk Parra Witte
Tairona Heritage Trust, UK / Unitec, Colombia


This paper focuses on Kogi “payments” (zubiji) and “confessions” (aluna ishguashi) as knowledgeable practices that illustrate the ecological nature of exchange on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in Colombia. It shows how reciprocity is a matter of nourishment framed by complex orders and associations that resemble Andean arrangements of cosmos, landscape and society. In Kogi terms, these patterns are not simply “analogist” forms of classification but constitute a multifaceted web or fabric of relations and flows based on the regulation of ecological balance as the maintenance of supporting cosmological structures. This unity amounts to a living, thinking organism that generates and sustains all beings and things, while integrating their substance and form, spirit and matter. In this way the paper throws further light upon the ontological dimensions of the Isthmo-Colombian region, and ends by stressing their relevance for understanding current environmental issues around the Sierra Nevada.

Keywords: Kogi, cosmology, exchange, ecology, nourishment.