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International Culture

NGO Thydêwá: Indigenous people’s uses of new technologies

By Natasha Sayce-Zelem
Oct 19, 2017
Image credit: Sebastián Gerlic. Yande, a member of Kariri indigenous community

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This inspiring event will share information about the culture and traditions of different indigenous groups from north-eastern Brazil, and in particular about the ways in which, with the support of the NGO Thydêwá, these communities have used digital tools to increase their visibility, fight prejudice and lobby the government for their rights.

Yonana, a member of the Pataxó Hãhãhãe indigenous community. Image credit: Sebastián Gerlic, NGO Thydêwá
Yonana, a member of the Pataxó Hãhãhãe indigenous community. Image credit: Sebastián Gerlic, NGO Thydêwá

Intercultural communication is at the core of this event: the community members are coming to the UK in order to reach out to people elsewhere in the world, sharing their experiences and learning from other communities with similar stories to tell. They will be coming to Leeds because of their strong links with the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies at the University of Leeds, and they are keen to enter into dialogue with the attendees at the Leeds International Festival.

Their use of the internet dates back over 15 years now and has been recognised with a series of different prizes, both nationally and internationally. Beyond running an ethno-journalist website called Indios Online, these communities have used the internet to run online educational networks, sell craftwork, share information about environmental sustainability and more. Their current projects include a network specifically for indigenous women and a project to create indigenous digital art.

Jaguatirica, a member of the Tupinambá indigenous community. Image credit: Sebastián Gerlic, NGO Thydêwá
Jaguatirica, a member of the Tupinambá indigenous community. Image credit: Sebastián Gerlic, NGO Thydêwá

The event will be delivered by the director of the NGO Thydêwá, Sebastián Gerlic, in conjunction with Maria das Dores de Oliveira of the Pankararu community.

We will screen the Indígenas digitais documentary (in Portuguese with English subtitles) which explores what digital technologies mean to indigenous people and how they use them.

This will be followed by a talk by Sebastián Gerlic and Maria das Dores de Oliveira (with interpreting from Dr Thea Pitman from the University of Leeds) about the communities themselves, their marginalisation by mainstream society and their struggle for cultural survival, as well as discussing how they have used digital technologies to amplify their voices and enhance their visibility worldwide.

Finally there will also be a display of artworks stemming from the indigenous digital art project for you to view and further opportunities for local community engagement after the event.