Accepted Paper:

Kaxuyana artifacts: memory and dialogue from ethnographic collections  


Adriana Russi Tavares de Mello (Universidade Federal Fluminense - UFF)

Paper short abstract:

In Museums, Kaxuyana artifacts reveal other times. I discuss the dialogue between these Amerindian people and researchers about such objects. These people were almost decimated and abandoned their territory in 1968 (Lower Amazon/ Brazil). Since 2003 they returned there to value their culture.

Paper long abstract:

Today the Kaxuyana number 418 people. They were devastated by disease and reduced to 60 people in 1968, when they abandoned their territory at the Cachorro river to live far away with other Indigenous people at Tumucumac Park, in Brazil. In 2003, some Kaxuyana returned and resettled in the site of an old village. There, relatives of an important leader started a process of strengthening of their traditional culture. Among other actions, they rebuilt the tamiriki communal house, as well as started to make traditional artifacts that had been left aside when they moved to Tumucumac.

Here I discuss their experience of reassessing themselves over their territory, through a comparative approach between present-day artifacts and those in museums. The memories raised by the images of these artifacts provide an interesting exercise in knowledge exchange.

Sheltered in museums for some 80 years, in Europe these objects are at Nationalmuseet (Copenhagen/ Denmark), Kulturistorik Museum (Oslo/ Norway), British Museum (London/ England), Museum für Völkerkunde Hamburg (Hamburg/ Germany), Moesgård (Aarhus/ Denmark). In Brazil the collections are mainly at National Museum (Rio de Janeiro) and Emilio Goeldi Museum (Belém).

Revealing other times, such objects hold memories of everyday life, rituals and festive moments. In this case, as in others, issues of material culture are articulated with cultural and political identity of this people recently returned to their territory. In this aspect, I intend to promote a multidisciplinary dialogue involving the Kaxuyana, curators and researchers, intersections between human experience and the world of material culture.

Panel P58
The enlightening museum: anthropology, collecting, encounters