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The History of the Waiwai from the Arrival of the Missionaries to the Demarcation of Land: an indigenous point of view

Thursday 25 January at 5.30 pm

Rodrigo Waiwai, from the indigenous village Mapuera, in the northern part of the Brazilian Amazon, is in London to research the collections of Waiwai objects at the British Museum, and will give a talk on the history of the Waiwai taking as a departure point the first contact with the missionaries that settled in the area in the late 1940s. Rodrigo will discuss the impact of the arrival of the missionaries to their ways of life, from the translation of the New Testament to Waiwai to drastic social-organisational changes that led them to abandon small villages near the headwaters of rivers to settle in bigger and more densely populated ‘mission-villages’, as well as the gradual process of de-signification of shamanistic knowledge and discontinuation of several rituals and parties.
Rodrigo will also talk about the process of demarcation of the land Trobetas-Mapuera, where he lives and which was fully demarcated in 2008. Together with the neighbouring lands, called Waiwai and Waimiri-Atroari, as well as other natural reserves, they form the biggest stretch of land to be permanently protected in Brazil. The question of ownership of land is itself a western construct and the anthropological proposal was to incorporate elements of indigenous thinking into the process and to involve indigenous peoples in the demarcation. Several indigenous peoples living in this territory are isolated, nomadic and still uncontacted, therefore the importance of having long stretches of land in which they can continue to roam and live their lives undisrupted.
Rodrigo Waiwai will be in conversation with Fiona Watson, Research Director at Survival International, a NGO focused on protecting the rights of indigenous peoples, with a presentation on the history of land demarcation in Brazil and current challenges; and John Burton, Founder Director of the organisation World Land Trust.
The talk has been organised by Cinthya Lana who worked with Rodrigo, other indigenous leaders and anthropologist Ruben Caixeta de Queiroz, from the Federal University of Minas Gerais, in the demarcation of the indigenous land Trombetas-Mapuera. Cinthya is also a PhD candidate at King’s College of London, with a thesis on the representation of Amazonian indigenous peoples in art and anthropological exhibitions.

This event is free, but tickets must be booked. To book tickets please go to https://waiwai.eventbrite.co.uk

Location : Royal Anthropological Institute
50 Fitzroy Street
United Kingdom