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Indigenous Libraries As Social Venues

bib-mex

Library of National Autonomous University of Mexico. Image by Esparta on flickr (CC BY 2.0).

“One thing is that books satisfy users’ curiosity, and a very different one that is that it might represent the identity of the community them belong to”. Argentinian librarian Daniel Canosa questions the role and function of local libraries. On Infotecarios network he writes:

Las bibliotecas indígenas, [deberían] generar conocimiento desde la participación local y comunitaria, ofrecer un modo de entendimiento, que es a la vez una manera de construir identidad. El tema es si lo que ofrece la biblioteca representa lo que cada comunidad sabe y conoce, si lo que construye el bibliotecario con su comunidad permite una genuina afinidad con la memoria histórica del pueblo. No se tratan de ideas nuevas, pero es necesario avanzar interpelando las mismas.
[...]
Si las bibliotecas difunden la producción de la gente de su lugar de pertenencia, entonces no sólo las elites tendrán presencia en el mundo de la información.

Indigneous libraries [should] generate knowledge from local and community participation, provide a way of understanding, that in time is a way of building identity. The thing is if what libraries provide represent what each community knows, if what a librarian builds with their community allows a true affinity with people's historic memory. This is not about new ideas, but things should move forward questioning those ideas.
[...]
If libraries spread people's production from their own places, then not only the elites won't be then only ones in the world of information.

The author highlights the fact that burning libraries, as happened in the past, eliminates peoples’ memories and therefore their identity. He also highlights the works by Colombia Indigenous Peoples Basic Library, puts into question publications by Abya Yala Ecuadorian publishing house and presents an instance of “social inclusion” with Eloísa Cartonera Cooperative from Argentina.

Read more about this, visit Daniel Canosa's personal blog or contact him on LinkedIn.

This post was part of the fourteenth #LunesDeBlogsGV (Monday of blogs on GV) on August 4, 2014.

Jonbeel, a Barter Market in the 21st Century

 People from the Tiwa community catching fish during the “Community Fishing” and Tiwa women exchanging their commodities by barter system, as part of the ‘Jonbeel Mela’ at Jonbeel lake. Image by Abdul Sajid. Copyright Demotix. (22/10/2010)

Tiwa women exchange their commodities by barter system, as part of the ‘Jonbeel Mela’ at Jonbeel lake. Image by Abdul Sajid. Copyright Demotix. (22/10/2010)

The centuries old Jonbeel Mela, a community fair in the northeast Indian state of Assam, has a unique ritual. Around 10,000 indigenous people from tribes like the Karbi, Khasi, Tiwa, and Jayantia of the northeast come down from the hills to the Jonbeel wetlands with their produce or catch and interchange with the local people in a barter system. Usha Dewani at the India Water Portal reports that the annual three-day festival has been celebrated since the 15th century. Around 100,000 people visit the market each year.

Coming Soon! Rising Voices Microgrants for Amazon Communities

Amazon Peru, photo by Pearl Vas  (CC BY 2.0)

Amazon Peru, photo by Pearl Vas (CC BY 2.0)

Rising Voices will be launching a microgrant competition next month for digital citizen media projects in the Amazon region which is home to many indigenous communities. Thanks to Avina Americas, Fundación Avina, and the Skoll Foundation, we'll be offering this support with ongoing mentorship from the Global Voices community.

Read more about the project on Rising Voices and register your interest here.

Citizen media has played an important part in many cultural, political, social and environmental struggles in the region. See some of our past coverage of Amazon communities on the special coverage page: Forest Focus: Amazon.

Returning Human Remains is Not an Apology, Says Namibia to Germany

Human remains who were killed during the colonial war (early 20th century) were returned to Namibia by Germany in March. However, Namibians still demand a formal apology from the German government as Tendai Marima,  a post-doctoral researcher in African literature, wrote on the Think Africa Press website :

The skulls and skeletons that made their way home this month were seized by Germany back when Namibia − then ‘German South-West Africa’ − was one its colonies. Namibia was first occupied by the European power in 1884, and in 1904, the Herero and Nama peoples − dispossessed of their land and livestock − rose up together in an attempt to expel the Germans.

In an early revolt, over 100 German settlers and soldiers were killed, but the ensuing repression of the uprising was relentless and brutal. Over the three years it took to suppress the uprising, an estimated 65,000 Hereros and 10,000 Nama were killed, representing some 80% and 50% of those entire populations respectively. It is considered the first genocide of the 20th century.

Honduras Launches Online Dictionary of Indigenous Languages

A dictionary of Honduran indigenous languages was recently released online [es].

Honduran newspaper Tiempo [es] explains that this dictionary “registers the equivalent [words] in Spanish, chortí, garífuna, isleño, miskito, pech, tawahka and tolupán, languages that make up the country's linguistic heritage.” 

For example, a search for the Spanish word for bead, “pan” [es], gives the following result:

Bread
Baked food made with flour.
Ch. b’or.
G. fein.
I. bread.
M. bred.
P. síra arinayoka.
Ta. wan busna / brit.
To. sen

“Racism is Not an Issue in Latin America” — Seriously?

In an opinion piece for the New York Times titled “Latin America's Talent for Tolerance,” Enrique Krauze proposes the notion that Latin America is less prone to racism:

[...] European-style racism — which not only mistreats and discriminates but also persecutes and, in the very worst cases, tries to exterminate others because of their ethnicity — has been the exception and not the rule in modern Latin America.

Krauze's opinion piece prompted blogger Julio Ricardo Varela to question the validity of his position in an article written for Latino Rebels:

At the beginning of the piece, Krauze starts with FIFA’s “Say No To Racism” campaign,”a message” that “was particularly directed toward the soccer stadiums of Europe, where there have been many instances of racial taunting and physical aggression by hostile fans against African and other black players.” Just a few sentences later, Krauze is quick to let us know that such racism doesn’t occur in the Americas: “the stadiums of Latin America have for the most part been free of this phenomenon, despite the fervent nationalism and fanaticism of the fans.” I am guessing that neither Krauze nor his Times editor did some actual fact-checking because in just five minutes, I was able to locate several examples of racism in Latin American stadiums.

After pointing out that so-called “European-style racism is what formed Latin America in the first place,” Varela concludes with these words:

When we as Latin Americans admit the truth and confront it head on, only then can real change occur. In the meantime, the literal whitewashing of Latin American history needs to be monitored and when it appears in mass media, we must all do our best to quickly call out this ignorant attitude. The only way to transform society is to ensure that we don’t allow certain opinions to become the standard. We can do better, and we will. One tweet at a time.

When Will Impunity End for Slave Traders in Mauritania ?

A protest coordinated by several Mauritanian civil society organizations and political parties was held on April 29, 2014 in Nouakchott. The protest was initiatied by members of Haratin tribe who demand more rights and the enforcement of existing laws. This protest marks the first anniversary of the Haratin Manifesto [fr].  The Adrar Info website published a photo report of the protest signs that were displayed during the march [fr] : 

On April 29, thousands of Mauritanian responded to the march organized by the initiator of the “Manifesto for the political, economic and social rights of Haratin tribe.” The march began at the new YMCA in Nouakchott at 6 PM and ended near the Ibn Abbas mosque. Some protests signs were displayed by demonstrators who were also draped with national flags : 
“The land belongs to those who work it”, “No to the ongoing exclusion..” “when will the impunity end for the perpetrators of slave trading ?” “We want quantitative and qualitative studies that evaluate slavery [in Mauritania]“ 

Indigenous Research at the College of the Bahamas

As a follow-up to her post about “the absurdity of cutting the budget for the College of The Bahamas”, Blogworld says:

Not only is the College the national tertiary level institution, but it’s the only indigenous public institution that is engaged in any form of ongoing Bahamian research.

Can Scientists Help Preserve Latin America's Cultural Heritage?

“We would suggest you dress up a little bit more ‘formal’ when you have to interact with clients”. By “formal” he means, you have to renounce your cultural heritage because you belong to an indigenous group in Ecuador and your look is too ‘ethnic’ for business.
 
This is a reality in many countries in Latin America, even in those that, like Ecuador, have a constitution that recognizes the nation as pluricultural and multiethnic. These are countries that have the potential to obtain economic growth through scientific discoveries that utilize the traditional knowledge of indigenous groups, and yet struggle to respect and accept their rich indigenous heritage.

In Latin American Science, Karina Vega-Villa writes about the importance of preserving the region's cultural heritage. She asks:

In a global society that highly values scientific advancement, what is the role that scientists play in developing a technology-based economic model in multicultural nations like those in Latin America?

And then concludes, among other things:

An emphasis on science programs directed by scientists and not business managers is required. [...] The role of scientists from a broad range of fields is essential and evident. Collaborative and cooperative efforts are fundamental to undertake this epic task.

Bahamas: The Cerasee Cold Cure

Forget the cold relief, time for the cure.

Blogworld's Nicolette Bethel turns to “bush medicine” for healing.

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