CFP Tradition, heritage process and writing practices in Latin America

Tradition, heritage process and writing practices in Latin America

The place of writing amongst Amazonian Amerindians is increasing considerably increasing mainly because of the expanding rate of children’s schooling. Political logics also contribute to this process. For an example, indigenous organizations are legally and administratively constituted through a series of documents, and even the recognition of Indigenous peoples implies the presentation of certified documents; an immense production of papers, documents and signatures is required for any project. If this proliferation of textual media is particularly visible in the offices of the indigenous organizations, its presence is also remarkable in their personal residences where books and personal documents are gathered.
In addition, the UNESCO Recommendation on the Safeguarding of Traditional Culture and Folklore (1989), the Proclamation of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity (2001, 2003 and 2005), and the Convention for the Safeguarding of the Intangible Cultural Heritage (2005) tend to increase many Indigenous groups’ desire to show their heritage, in their claim for international recognition. The application for the Proclamation of the Masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO, which was presented by many peoples from the Amazon basin, consisted of the production of a vast written documentation on traditions as well as a proposal for concrete actions of safeguarding. Curiously, written language is the mode of expression that has been chosen for the safeguarding of oral traditions, whose actions include registering and also divulgating intangible heritage.
These issues are linked with writing practices: writing culture in oral traditions presupposes a formidable creativity that we wish to highlight in an edited volume.

Call for contributions

Proposals are invited for an edited volume that will include contributions from a broad range of authors involved in heritage processes and writing practices in Latin America. In this volume, we will question afresh the safeguarding actions of the indigenous cultures (promulgated or not by national and/or international policies) in their relation with writing practices. The studies on the way Amerindians produce, ask for, and use writing are expected, as well as case studies on « patrimonialisation » – or the process of « making » heritage – and their relation with written register.
If you, your colleagues or your students are participants in the instauration of heritage processes in Indigenous communities of Latin America, you are strongly encouraged to contribute. The book will be independently edited by Anne-Gael Bilhaut (University of Paris Ouest Nanterre, Centre EREA, France) and Silvia Macedo (Universidade Federal do Espírito Santo, Vitoria, Brazil). It is
intended that the final product will be a significant resource on indigenous textual practices in heritage processes. While there is scope for the structure and content of the volume to develop as contributions are received, the editors have proposed a number of potential

  • Writing and the school
  • Writing and the production of heritage
  • New modes of writing: emails, websites, blogs and films
  • Writing and archiving
  • Writing and State institutions.
  • Writing and translation

(An expanded explanation of each of these headings is included at the end of this call to provide a stimulus for prospective contributors.) However, please note that the focus of the volume is the role of textual practices and/in ‘patrimonialisation’ or heritage processes. While it will not be possible to publish any item that has previously been published elsewhere, some authors may wish to consider contributing developed papers from past conference presentations, or revising and updating articles.
We invite you to send us from now and until the 30/03/2009 your proposition in view of a publication, including: title, author(s), institution(s), email, 4 keywords and the abstract (between 3000 and 3500 characters with spaces), in English, Times New Roman 12, single line spacing, to our emails:;

Anne-Gael Bilhaut & Silvia Macedo

Potential sections (expanded):

Writing and the school.
Schooling and education projects are the main ways of diffusion, teaching and training on writing practices. Amongst Amerindians political claims, controlling the practices on literacy by educational programs and school seems to be one of the principal indigenous political demands. Proposals concerning experiences on writing in educational and schooling processes are to be considered. How are the teaching/learning procedures on writing? What is the importance given to writing in the school programs? Which contents are chosen to be written? How to transmit oral traditions through
written contents?
Writing and the production of heritage. In the ‘patrimonialisation’ or heritage processes amongst the Amerindians, writing becomes a source of selfknowledge and a way to be recognised as an original people. Indigenous organizations supervise publications which are related to them, or authored by themselves. How do the Amerindians use textual media in their heritage processes? Which are the uses of writing made by them to show or exhibit their culture?
New modes of writing: emails, websites, blogs and films. The increasing availability to the Internet, linked with a good command of computer knowledge, makes communication by emails, blog writing and website creation accessible to the Amerindians. Additionally, thanks to considerable training on video camera and story-telling, they produce films. What are the forms of textuality that govern these new modes of writing? Up to what point are these modes of writing indigenous answers to new needs of communication?
Writing and archiving. The writing often contributes to preservation and conservation. What kind of archive conservation do Amerindian populations carry out? What is preserved and archived? Where and according to what principles? Which intentions can determine archiving actions?
Writing and State institutions. The relations between Amerindian communities and State institutions are especially controlled by the means of written documents. Does this form of communication replace other modes of interethnic communication? What is the importance given to the documents in these relations? What is written? In what context? What are the statuses of these documents?
Writing and translation. The process of translation from oral traditions towards written texts generates a series of debates on: translation of a (oral) form of communication to another (written); forms of register (for example from shamanic languages towards the language shared by the group); translation from maternal language to a regional or national language.

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