Accepted Paper:

Making ceramics and heritage in a Brazilian quilombo: reflections from Itamatatiua, MA.  
Katerina Chatzikidi (University of London)

Paper short abstract:

This paper seeks to explore the various nuances of quilombo cultural heritage and their influence on practices on the ground, as they transpire in the quilombo of Itamatatiua, Maranhão state, Brazil.

Paper long abstract:

What is 'quilombo cultural heritage' and how does a 'traditional practice' transforms into heritage? How has the transmission of an old apprenticeship changed since it was recognised as part of the country's intangible heritage? This paper seeks to explore the various nuances of quilombo cultural heritage and their influence on practices on the ground, as they transpire in the quilombo of Itamatatiua, Maranhão state, Brazil. Drawing on ethnographic research conducted over 15 months, this presentation will delve into politics of heritage-making and their significance for quilombola struggles for land rights.

Itamatatiua's ceramics evoke, and tap into, a widespread imaginary of how 'traditional', 'authentic', and culture of 'African-descent' looks like. Quilombolas (legally defined as descendants of maroon communities), the makers of the ceramics, are well-aware of the powerful evocative power their traditional practice has acquired in recent years. With a growing awareness of political rights and an established participation in quilombola struggles for the establishment of land rights, the potters of Itamatatiua creatively communicate their ceramic production in order to call for visibility and raise awareness of their land struggle.

On the other hand, and while official 'heritagisation' processes aim at protecting craftwork, less and less people are involved into the production of ceramics. The makers express their preoccupation about the future of their practice and its significance for quilombo land regulation. It will be argued that ceramic craft work has acquired a rather powerful symbolic role in the community's everyday life, being directly attached to quilombola struggles for the establishment of land rights.

Panel P068
The Future of Craft: Apprenticeship, Transmission and Heritage