Jay

Jay Mistry

Royal Holloway University of London
Egham, United Kingdom

Tumucumaque

Field Report n°2

December 10, 2011

This is a personal account of fieldwork experiences from COBRA project members Jay Mistry (Royal Holloway), Frederico Schlottfeldt Brandão (ECAM) and Arlinson Kleber (ECAM) who participated in a workshop in Tumucumaque in December 2011.

Cobra Project – Creative Commons

Macapa, Brazil, December 2011 – We took the morning flight from Macapa to the small village of Urunai in Tumucumaque;  luckily it was quite a smooth flight and for the two and a half hours all you saw on the ground was forest! With about 20 minutes left of the journey, the forest changed to savanna and as we began our descent, we saw the Marapi River, the only source of freshwater for many of the Tiriyo communities.

The ten participants from the various villages had already arrived, so we spent the first day introducing ourselves through the video and discussing the project and its objectives. We used a short video about COBRA that Jay had produced in Portuguese and Tiriyo as the basis of this discussion and screened this same video in the evening to the whole community so they were aware of what we were doing and could ask questions.

Over the next six days we worked through a range of games that combined learning about the COBRA project and its approaches, with visual techniques including video and photography. Within one game, participants identified Cashari as an integral part of their culture and nutrition. Cashari is a fermented cassava-based drink which is consumed in huge amounts almost all the time. Literally breakfast, lunch and dinner! From babies to the elderly, Cashari plays an important role in community structure,  relationships, diet, as well as ceremonial and ritual purposes.

Our aim during the workshop was to give participants the chance to tell stories about their communities through video and photography. Then, by presenting these in the form of films and photostories to the rest of the community (screenings took place every night), there were opportunities to reflect on and share these stories. The workshop ended with the development of an action plan in which the ten participants will return to their villages to continue taking video footage and photographs on all the important aspects of their lives. Through this, the COBRA team hopes to learn more about the issues threatening the future survival of these communities and their unique way of life.

It was an amazing experience for us all and we enjoyed sharing our very different ways of life. Food plays a central role in most of our lives and in Tumucumaque it is no different. We were fed a variety of fish and hunted game, including paca, a large forest rodent. On departure, we were presented with two beautiful tortoises, named Cobra Kleber and Jay Brandão, which unfortunately we couldn’t take with us but hope are still alive and well….and not on anyone’s dinner plate!

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