Accepted paper:

Participatory Hypermedia in indigenous communities of the Guyana Shield: towards the consciousness of co-existence with a global world?


Céline Tschirhart (Royal Holloway, University of London)
Jayalaxshmi Mistry
Andrea Berardi (The Open University)
Geraud de Ville de Goyet (Open University)

Paper short abstract:

Based on our research with indigenous communities of Guyana and Brazil, this paper explores how Participatory Hypermedia can be considered as a performance for indigenous communities in Latin America, as they appropriate these tools to perform a message that reveals a sharp consciousness of co-existence with a global world.

Paper long abstract:

Performance is almost always associated with theatre, dancing, singing, playing music. It is an act of presenting a form of entertainment to a public, involving art, creation, putting yourself on stage. Thus, indigenous performance is often studied through dance, music, theatre, and in what ways it reinforces cultural identity, self-determination, and visibility in the national and global world. However, over recent years, indigenous media have also played an important role in 'performance'. Hypermedia, i.e. web-based platforms for blending video, audio and text based representations are, in particular, becoming increasingly powerful tools for delivering indigenous performances to a worldwide audience. In the COBRA project (, communities of Brazil and Guyana are using video and photo to identify indicators of sustainability. If we believe that communities provide an objective representation of their situation then we would not be talking of performance. If local communities see Hypermedia as a tool to promote their own particular interests, from local to global scales, through careful choreographing of their representations, then we can justifiably talk about 'performance'. In what ways does leading Participatory Hypermedia project like ours empower, expose and affect local self-consciousness? In this paper, we will discuss how communities are constructing, communicating and performing a message with a purpose in mind that is very close to the ideals of a performance. We think indigenous communities, through the way they use these tools, reveal they have a clear conscience of their identity and how to shape it to serve their purposes.

panel SE28
Self-conscious indigeneity in Latin America