raffaella Fryer-MoreirA 

fABIANA Assis Fernandes

supported by the British Museum's eNDANGERED material Knowledges Programme Small Grant

Oga pysy: Techniques of Dialogue will document the material processes and technical knowledge through which Guarani Kaiowá ceremonial houses (Oga pysy) are constructed, the local cosmological frameworks that inform their architecture, and the ritual practices that these structures contain and enable. A broad range of digital media will be used in the process of documentation, including technologies of sensory immersion such as VR/360 video and ambisonic sound.

What are Oga pysy?

Oga pysy are Guarani Kaiowá ceremonial houses, and play a key role in Guarani ceremonial practice, providing a physical space through which community members can establish a direct link to their central deity, nhanderu tupã. Within the ceremonial houses several rituals are performed which enable the Guarani Kaiowá populations to perform seasonal ceremonies and rites which restore harmony with cosmological entities, and therefore ensure social and cultural harmony within the community. The physical architecture of the Oga pysy, and the material components through which they are made, are directly informed by local cosmological frameworks and indigenous metaphysical knowledge. As a result, it is the local shaman (nhanderu) who holds all the technical knowledge, understood as sacred knowledge, required to build the Oga pysy.

In the context of violent conflicts with the neighbouring non-indigenous population, reduced space and a lack of ecological resources has led to a reduced number of ceremonial houses being built, while a recent increase in religious intolerance has led to two ceremonial houses being violently destroyed in arson attacks over the last twelve months. The absence of Oga pysy is understood to result in social disharmony and a breakdown of community relations.


The diversity of methods proposed will not only serve to ensure a rich historical record is established using the most sophisticated tools currently available, but will also serve to demonstrate the epistemic value of different digital mediums, and the urgent need for academic institutions to innovate existing methodologies through which research data is gathered, stored, and presented. This project will permit the practical demonstration of the epistemic value that different digital media afford within research methodologies, and therefore seeks to contribute towards the innovation of research methods and practice beyond the discipline of anthropology.


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