7041 - Kayapó and Baniwa subjects, objects and patrimonies

According to Lucia van Velthem, “ethnographic objects possess a relationship of continuity with their cultures of origin.” An ongoing research project at the Goeldi Museum in Brazil has focused on how different indigenous groups understand this continuity and interact with museum collections. The project has focused on important collections by Frei Gil de Vila Nova (1902) from the Irã-Amraire Kayapó and Theodor Koch-Grünberg (1905) from the Upper Rio Negro. Kayapó and Baniwa consultants visit the Museum to study this heritage. The Kayapó are reluctant to handle objects from the past because prestige items (nekret) like body ornaments are fundamental in constituting persons, in this case, dead people. For these and other reasons, the Kayapó have little interest in repatriation. Instead, a primary interest in the Kayapo's interaction with the museum is to acquire digital cameras, a new kind of prestige object they use to film their own festivals both for their own viewing, and to circulate to rival villages. The Baniwa, by contrast have no qualms about handling museum pieces, since ritual objects constitute clans through time. Modern peoples of the Rio Negro feel they still own such ritual objects. Some groups from the Rio Negro have successfully sued to recover pieces from ethnographic collections in order to use them in rituals. The Baniwa, too, are interested in using digital technology to document this heritage and revitalize rituals, Inter-clan competition highlights religious differences between Protestant and Catholic factions. The striking differences in Kayapó and Baniwa attitudes reveal complex and diverse notions about subjects, objects and patrimonies.

Palavras-chaves: museum science, cultural heritage, Amazonia, ethnology

Autores: Shepard, Glenn (Goeldi Museum, Brazil, Brazil / Brasilien)


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