Saturday 28th June 5pm Stirrup Gallery, 142 Addison Rd Marrickville
Food and drinks available
“Today we are talking about Mother Earth, which we call the Pachamama. We respect a lot our Mother Earth. She is our earth. We are the sons and daughters of that land. The earth has given birth to us, and the water is the blood of the Mother Earth, of our Pachamama.
In ancient times, or when I was very young, there was still a lot of respect for Mother Earth. When we started, or before the sowing season, first of all, we respected the Mother Earth with a waxt’a. That could be an offering of a llama or a lamb, or something had to be offered. Then, when you start irrigating the crops, when you start using the water, then, first of all, once again, we had to bless the earth. So, once again, we offered a llama. And after that, we started working on the lands. And then we started harvesting beans, onions, all types of vegetables.
But today, things have changed. There is no longer the same respect we had before. People, they have forgotten about Mother Earth. They have forgotten about Pachamama and forgotten about respect for the water. And now people—people, they want money. We want to earn money, and we want to have a lot of money. Before, things were very different. That was not so. Before, we had a lot of respect, a lot of respect, so that we would have enough to eat. Now, people, they work in the mines, taking out gold, silver.”
– PEREGRINA KUSSE VIZA, Bolivia
How do we envisage our connection to land, do we consider it an entity in it’s own right, a living system known to some as Gaia, a bounty that is constantly replenished through the nourishment of the goddess, Pachamama. Are we children of this earth, or masters of it, damming its rivers, hacking into its genetic strands, unlocking carbon, even forcing it to rain. This fundamental clash in world views is a battle for the future of life on this earth, one that depends on individuals, governments and company boards leaning one way or another, its mother earth or the money.
This is not a conflict between different political or economic parties, but a conflict between two different views of the world. One cosmovision does not harm anyone or anything to exist, and, as a bonus, works for the benefit of all. The second worldview, hegemonic in our contemporary global world, values material utility as the ultimate goal, and as a means to an “inevitable development of peoples“, and is, as many understand, the paradigm which today is destroying the planet and its resources.
Technological wizardry has given unprecedented power into the hands of individuals who can escape accountability in a globalised system. Communities on one continent can be ripped about in the course of a board room meeting on another continent. Technologies are no superior to the mastery of shamanism and traditional knowledges that have sustained cultures and biological systems for over thousands of years. These cultural traditions are complex threads of memory intertwined with practises, evident in the way that Shamans learn to sing Icaros, the songs of the spirits of plants to gain knowledge and to heal and not unlike the Polynesians, masters of navigation who can read the reverberation of waves and who live through their creation stories of Sky Father and Earth Mother.
A snapshot of Latin America today highlights that we are at a critical point in our history. In Peru, Indigenous communities have mobilized to raise their concern about threats to their lands and the harmful effects of oiling and mining activities in their territories. In Guatemala, a disturbing pattern of violence and intimidation of human rights defenders opposed to mining developments has emerged, In Venezuela Indigenous Yukpa Leader Sabino Romero is assassinated for leading a land rights movement, while conferences are organised in Sydney to promote mining investment in Latin America. In Bolivia, the government of Evo Morales, president of Aymara descent, enacts the Mother Earth Law, giving nature legal rights, specifically the rights to life and regeneration, biodiversity, water, clean air, balance, and restoration. The bill calls for the ecological reorientation of Bolivia’s economy and society, aligned more closely to the worldview of Indigenous people of Latin America. It calls for public policy to be guided by Sumaj Kawsay (an indigenous concept meaning ‘living well’ or living in harmony with nature and people), rather than the current focus on producing more goods and stimulating consumption.
Is the challenge of our time to reconnect with the land, to embrace our duty to protect nature and end fossil dependency. How do we help people understand that for their well-being and even survival they are going to have to live with fewer material items. What would this world give back in terms of knowledge, experience, human interaction, and lasting employment on a living Earth that goes on and on forever.
Dr Luis Angosto Ferrández
PhD Queen’s University of Belfast, MPhil University College Cork, BA (Licenciatura) Universidad de Granada
Lecturer in the Department of Spanish and Latin American Studies, and the Department of Anthropology.
Dr Ferrández´s research analyses, from a comparative perspective, the relationships between indigenous peoples and the state in Latin America, and particularly in countries where state reform is adopting socialist leanings (including Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador and Nicaragua). Research areas broadly include; Indigenous peoples and the state in Latin America (social movements, statecraft); Ethnicity and race; Multiculturalism and plurinationality;Political agency and organisation.
After graduating from the University of Granada (Spain) in Political Science and holding an Erasmus studentship at University College Cork, I completed an MPhil in Folklore and Ethnology at this very Irish University. For my MPhil I conducted fieldwork in Jerez de la Frontera, while analysing the role of the flamenco tradition in contemporary processes of identity boundary demarcation between local and foreign populations. I then completed my PhD in Social Anthropology at Queen’s University of Belfast, with a thesis that, articulating scholarly enquiry around the concepts of ethnicity, citizenship and indigenous political organisation, examined the relations between the Venezuelan state and indigenous peoples in the context of the Bolivarian political process. For my doctoral research I conducted a year and a half of fieldwork in Venezuela, principally based in a Pemon community of the Gran Sabana. After doctoral graduation I returned to Venezuela and worked for five years at the Bolivarian University in Ciudad Bol’var, while also conducting further research in the country.
Federico Fuentes is an Argentine-born political scientist, has co-authored three books with Marta Harnecker on the new left in Bolivia, Ecuador, and Paraguay and together with Roger Burbach and Michael Fox co-authored “Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions: the future of twenty-first century socialism” (Zed Books, 2013). He was also a contributing author to “Latin America’s Radical Left Challenges and Complexities of Political Power in the Twenty-first Century” (Rowman & Littlefield. Fuentes edits Bolivia Rising, is part of the Venezuelanalysis.com editorial collective, and a regular contributor to Green Left Weekly, including as part of its Caracas bureau from 2007-10. During this time in Caracas he was based at the Fundación Centro Internacional Miranda as a resident researcher investigating 21st century political instruments and popular participation in public management.
Leo Tanoi is the Creative Producer Pacific Programs at Casula Powerhouse Arts Centre. Tanoi is also a producer, curator, dj, broadcaster, writer, actor, community leader and family historian. Tanoi is of Samoan heritage and understands the benefits and importance of reconnecting with one’s culture. Tanoi is the founder of a popular Samoan Radio show Samoan Dreaming on Koori Radio 93.7FM. This radio show allows Tanoi to share with listeners especially young Samoans born outside of Samoa their stories of history and genealogy which is their origins and identity. Stories translated into English gives the youth pride of who they are. Understanding the past and where we come from and what our cultural references, traditions, customs and rituals are great starting points. Cultural reconnection is important for our Pacific people in a time where language and other pillars of our society have been reduced or relegated. Storytelling has always been part of Pacific culture for over three thousand years. It is Tanoi’s hope that cultural inheritance can also play a part in one’s professional development and one day become part of the many successful stories of the Australian creative industry. Tanoi’s presentation consists of contemporary Pacific artist’s works around the theme of earth mother and sky father.
“We the indigenous peoples of the north are in solidarity with the indigenous peoples of the south in confronting the colonisation of our lives. We must respect the laws of nature which dictate our relationship with the earth. The imperialists cannot sell to us what the great creator has given us. We have a prophecy that we must stop the corporate interests stealing the life of Pachamama. We have a choice between two paths, the path of life or the path of destruction. The people who will change the world are here, we are here, to protect the rights of Pachamama.” A speaker from India said; “At no point in the history of the earth before now has a collective of people come together, across all nations and boundaries, to put mother earth first.”