Recent readings of Jean de Lééry's Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du Bresil in light of his faith present a misleading picture of sixteenth-century Calvinism, and thus of the ethnography to which it gave rise in Lééry. This essay argues that a generalized appropriation of both the anthropology and the semiotics that underlie Calvin'seucharistictheology - over and against a preoccupation with predestination - conditions Lééry's overall ethnographic practice. Nearly every discussion of the nature of the sacraments in Calvin's Institutes uses the vocabulary of testimony.The Calvinist sacraments ''represent'' the divine bymeans of attestation, and not imitation. The Holy Spirit in Calvin's theology is the paradigmatic symbol of efficacious - yet (or,from the Protestant point of view, because) transparent - testimony of one world to another, radically different world. Lééry's appropriation of Calvin's ''spiritual'' mode of testimony constitutes the most remarkable ethnographic achievement of the Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du Bresil. Given the popularity of the Histoire d'un voyage in France in the centuries between its publication and its canonization by Claude Léévi-Strauss, and given the influence of the French heritage on the discipline of anthropology,a reevaluation of Lééry's ethnographic practice allows for a reconsideration of the early influences on modern European ethnography as a whole. Ultimately,it is precisely the disembodied and transparent nature of Lééry's authority, a mode of representation borrowed from the testimonial discourse of Calvinist theology, that explains why the Histoire d'un voyage remains a compelling ethnographic account. The notion of representation as testimonial provides an alternative to what has come to be considered, in the wake of Derrida and difféérance, the intractable problem of mimesis. The semiotics of Calvin's eucharist, unlike those of the Catholics (or of Luther), do not confound signs with bodies, or posit a stable link between them. For Calvin, as for Lééry,the link between signs and their referents - between language and the real - must be continually reforged through the mechanism of testimony.
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