Rowasu’u is a digital archive project currently under development by a group of A’uwẽ (Xavante) communities in Central Brazil and a team of researchers from Brazil and the United States. Five communities from Terra Indígena Pimentel Barbosa in Mato Grosso are participating in the prototype and development phase. We hope to expand the reach of the project to other A’uwẽ communities and Terras Indígenas in the coming years.
Currently, there are over 20,000 A’uwẽ, most of whom reside in recognized Terras Indígenas (TIs, Indigenous Lands) in the state of Mato Grosso. This project will directly serve TI Pimentel Barbosa, home to approximately 2,600 people.
This project seeks to return digital facimiles of a wide array of materials including photographs, audio recordings, scientific publications, and museum artifacts that have been created and collected by non-A’uwẽ researchers over the past 60 years. Rowasu’u will put control over these digital scientific objects in the hands of A’uwẽ communities and A’uwẽ project team members. You'll notice that very few images of people or digital heritage items are publically available at the moment. This is because A’uwẽ team members have yet to review, change and/or approve the cultural protocols programmed into this site.
History of Researchers:
Since the late 1950s, dozens of researchers have worked in A’uwẽ communities in fields such as human genetics, linguistics, public health and anthropology. Much of the work produced since that time has been stored in researchers’ personal collections, institutional archives, and libraries beyond the reach of the people they document. The materials include thousands of photographs, hours of audio recordings, and a bibliography of over 800 scholarly publications.
Rowasu’u grows out of earlier cultural documentation projects, including ProDocult, supported by the Museu do Índio in Rio de Janeiro. A’uwẽ project members included co-coordinator Tsuptó Buprewêm Wa’iri Xavante, Romeu Xavante, Lincon Dure'we Xavante, and Marco Aurélio Serenho Ihi Xavante. Non-A’uwẽ project members included co-coordinator James R. Welch, Rosanna Dent, and Carlos E. A. Coimbra Jr.
Platform and A’uwẽ Data Sovereignty:
This site is built using the Mukurtu Content Management System. This open source platform was devleoped specifically to facilitate Indigenous access to and control of digital content. Learn more about Mukurtu here. It allows participating communities to make digital objects available to specific stakeholders according to cultural protocols regarding viewing and use of content. Using Mukurtu, community members determine the visibility of materials in Rowasu’u. In the current prototype site, only materials that community members have already approved are visible to public visitors.
A’uwẽ Research Team members and an A’uwẽ Oversight Committee will be determined by participating communities.
Non-A’uwẽ Research Team (alphabetically):
Rosanna Dent (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
Laura Graham (Univeristy of Iowa)
Lori Jahnke (Emory University)
James R. Welch (Escola Nacional de Saúde Pública–Fiocruz)
Jada Evans (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
Pia Kapoor (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
Varun Pai (New Jersey Institute of Technology)
Kyle Tanaka (Emory University)
Student Project Alumni:
SJ Dillon (Emory University, 2020-2021)
Shareef Syed (New Jersey Institute of Techology, 2020-2021)
Monica Welch (New Jersey Institute of Technology, 2020)
We are grateful for the generous support of a Faculty Seed Grant from the New Jersey Institute of Technology, 2019-2021.