Accepted paper:

Making and looking at the past: visual artifacts, and ontological transformation among Cottica Ndyuka


Olivia Gomes da Cunha (National Museum, Federal University of Rio de Janeiro)

Paper short abstract:

This presentation explores the role of images displayed in cameras and cell phones, as they are used by Ndyuka maroon living Moengo (Suriname). They are conceived as an 'artifact' to record Ndyuka traditional knowledge, as well as related to conceptions of creation, knowledge, and learning.

Paper long abstract:

This presentation explores the role of visual artifacts, and how they relate to Ndyuka conceptions of creation, knowledge, and learning. Families and young adults living in the bauxite town of Moengo (Suriname) use cameras and cell phones as 'devices' to record and learn about their 'koni' (traditional knowledge) and 'kulturo' (culture). The presentation explores the controversies arising from the invention of a 'cultural event' called 'Poolo Boto Show, a parade of boats in the Cottica river nearby Moengo, involving traditional dance, music, and clothes, controversially associated to funerary rituals. Digital images were 'made' during the process of preparation of the festival and have played an important role as an artifact to know 'how things were in the past'. During the festival, digital cameras and cell phones were again mobilized to capture and document the 'koni' - since the performances of dance and drumming in the boats are 'representations' of the real life in the villages and the way the ancestors lived in the past. For Christian and church converted Ndyukas who live in Moengo, these way of dancing, dressing, and honoring the ancestors no longer exist and have no place in the 'modern times'. For other non-Christians maroons, the boat parade was an event of learning and sharing of knowledge traditionally limited to few people. The paper seeks to describe as 'create' and 'learn' things done in the past does erupt accusations, criticisms and ontological apperceptions about a maroon person.

panel P01
Anthropology and photography in the digital age