Two young women keep an eye on their younger relatives as they site behinnd their house in the aternoon

Two young women keep an eye on their younger relatives as they sit outdoors in the aternoon.

Emi Ireland Speech on May 31st

Return of the Captured Spirits (RCS) Project leader Emi Ireland spoke about the project on May 31st at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of Natural History. She used several dozen slides to highlight what she learned from the Wauja during the project this spring. After the talk, several RCS backers stayed for a personal update on the project.

One of the backers who lives in the D.C. area brought his video camera, so we plan to make the lecture available to all backers soon.

Here is the event description from the flyer:

This talk will examine an instance of visual repatriation in the light of evolving ethnographic methods and practices, as indigenous people acquire greater control over how their culture is recorded and represented.

In 1924, an expedition visited the Wauja, an indigenous rainforest community in Central Brazil, and shot the first movies ever made of these people. This precious footage was deposited at the National Museum in Rio de Janeiro, where it remained, unseen by the Wauja or their descendants, for nearly a century. In January of 2012, Emi Ireland and several colleagues worked together to bring video equipment and the newly digitized archival footage to the Wauja community. The project was designed to allow young Wauja to video the elders’ commentary as they recognized people and events shown in the historic footage.

As expected, the resulting dialog between generations of Wauja produced an outpouring of important historical information. An unexpected bonus was the young Wauja’s intense interest in the methodology of interviewing. They offered astute observations about Wauja modes of eliciting and sharing information as compared to those of anthropologists, passionately debating what questions to ask, and how to ask them.