Guarani and Kaiowá V.R Museum
Guarani and Kaiowá Virtual Museum 2021
Multimedia Anthropology Lab. (UCL)
Fabiana Assis Fernandes
Supported By The Ucl Grand Challenges Special Initiatives Fund
And The British Museum's Endangered Material Knowledge Practices Fund
In this project, UCL MAL will produce collaboratively with the Guarani & Kaiowá indigenous women, a Virtual Museum supported on the Mozilla Hubs and Unity platform. 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 material and immaterial cultural heritage.
As the Guarani and Kaiowá people face the most severe humanitarian crisis out of any indigenous population in Brazil, there is the need for a greater and more exposed comprehension of the indigenous rights and the importance of rethinking the ways in which material and immaterial cultural heritage is managed on a global scale, and increasing the participation of source communities in the curation and display of heritage.
UCL MAL, a student-led research network that explores experimental methods for research practice and communication across disciplines, has proposed building an online virtual museum curated by indigenous Guarani and Kaiowá communities in Brazil. This project research focuses on the relations between indigenous knowledge, practices and their environment, ascertaining how and what the Guarani and Kaiowá communities would like to preserve in their virtual Museum.
The Kuñangue Aty Guasu, led by Guarani & Kaiowá female elders and shamans, is an essential space for indigenous women to exchange knowledge, develop shared proposals for action, and is a key site for the creation of their Virtual Museum. Drawing on the successful dialogue established through the recent Multimedia Encounters conference, this project will support Guarani and Kaiowá women as they build their own digital identity, helping provide them with the skills they need to build, maintain, and further develop these online spaces to present their heritage on their own terms.
Currently the project has completed its first stage, which was developed remotely due to the conditions established during the COVID-19 pandemic. 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 community Elders reported seeing sacred spirits within the virtual space that had not been included by the museum's technical team. The presence of the spirits in the virtual reality museum directed the project to a new investigation, focused on the encounters of otherness in digital spaces, and the visibilities and invisibilities produced by technology. Thus, raising questions about the ontological aspect of virtual reality and contemporary technology confronted with ancestral indigenous knowledge and practices.