My research and field work as linguistic anthropologist

Regularly going in the Colombian Amazon since 1997, I have dedicated myself to the transcription, translation and study of oral literature of Yucuna and Tanimuca Indians, whose respective languages are classified as definetely endangered and severely endangered by UNESCO. These languages are different because they respectively belong to the Arawakan and Tucanoan language families, but many of these Indians speak both languages because of their exogamous affinal relationships. Their cultures are quite similar, despite their linguistic differences; many dances, ritual practices, worldviews and mythological references are similar or shared.

This site aims to make publicly available the materials and documents (corpus of narrations, conversations, chants, etc.) that I have developed with Yucuna and Tanimuca Indians, in order to introduce, describe and understand their languages and cultures.

I received a PhD in anthropology in 2001, and a Habilitation at Sorbonne University - Paris 3. I am Director of Research at this university. Since 2001, I am belonging to LACITO (Langues et civilisations à tradition orale) laboratory at CNRS (French National Center for Scientific Research).

I have published books and articles about the ethnology and ethnolinguistic of Yucuna Indians. Especially I have been working on their mythology since 2007. I am also interested in the shamanism and their incantations. Meanwhile, I have been studying the culture and language of Tanimuca since 2002.

My resume (in english)

My web page on the CNRS's website

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Localization of the Yucuna-speaking and Tanimuca-speaking Indians

Localization of the Yucuna-speaking Indians : The Yucuna (or Kamejeya), the Matapí (Jupichiya), the Je'rúriwa, the Jimíke'pi and the Jurumi

Localisation of the Tanimuca-speaking Indians : The Tanimuca (or Ũ’páirã) and the Letuama (Rétuarã)

Yucuna and Tanimuca area in Google Maps


Mario Matapi's Rounhouse (maloca),

La Pedrera, Camaritagua, 2003/07