Guarani and Kaiowá V.R. Museum
Multimedia Anthropology Lab. (UCL - MAL) + Kunangue Aty Guasu + IDAC
Supported by UCL Grand Challenges Special Initiatives Fund and The British Museum’s Endangered Material Knowledge Practices Fund
Fabiana Assis Fernandes,
In this project, UCL MAL is producing, in collaboration with indigenous Guarani and Kaiowá women, a Virtual Museum developed on the Mozilla Hubs and Unity platforms. This Virtual Museum project seeks to address concerns raised by indigenous communities regarding community access to heritage management by creating a digital infrastructure through which local communities can preserve, curate and display their tangible and intangible cultural heritage.
As the Guarani and Kaiowá peoples face a severe humanitarian crisis in Brazil, there is a need for a greater and more exposed understanding of indigenous rights and the importance of rethinking how tangible and intangible cultural heritage is managed on a global scale by increasing community participation in the curation and display of heritage.
UCL MAL, a student-led research network exploring experimental methods for research practice and communication across disciplines, has proposed the construction of an online virtual museum curated by indigenous Guarani and Kaiowá communities in Brazil. This research project focuses on the relationships between indigenous knowledge, practices and their environment, investigating how and what the Guarani and Kaiowá communities would like to preserve in their virtual museum.
The Kuñangue Aty Guasu, led by Guarani and Kaiowá elders and shamans, is an essential space for indigenous women to exchange knowledge, develop proposals for shared action and is a key place for the creation of their Virtual Museum.
Currently the project has concluded its first stage, which was developed remotely due to the conditions established during the COVID-19 pandemic. In this stage, we developed the first prototype of the museum that was presented in person and with the virtual reality headsets to the community between September and November 2021.
On this occasion, an important new element emerged, some Elders from the community reported seeing sacred spirits within the virtual space. The presence of the spirits in the virtual reality museum directed the project to a new investigation, focused on the encounters of alterities in digital spaces, and the visibilities and invisibilities produced/ made possible by technology. Thus, raising questions about the ontological aspect of virtual reality and contemporary technology confronted with ancestral indigenous knowledge and practices.