The Kamëntšá Biyá: Land Use Planning in Defense of the Sacred Previous The Postman Of The Four Winds: Echoes Of Tlatelolco Next
Cosmology & Pandemic: What We Can Learn From Indigenous Responses to the Current Health Crisis is many things at once. It’s a transmedia series — meaning a series of articles and films and other forms of media that work together in concert. In this case, it’s a collaboration between my longtime friend and colleague, Argentine filmmaker Hernán Vilchez, and myself. For those who don’t know me, I’m a veteran print journalist, happiest in the milieu of words; together with Hernán’s powerful imagery, and the varied talents of the team we’ve assembled, we’ve been able to make magic.
Para leer este artículo en Español, haz click AQUÍ
It’s a remote visioning project — because neither Hernán nor I could travel to indigenous communities in the Andes, the Amazon and other faraway destinations in six different countries to do this work. No, we had to envision it from afar, and convoke the right people in those communities to be our eyes and ears and voices and hands. Some of them were professionals with years of experience; others were beginners we needed to coach, crossing two continents and arriving in the jungle by the miracle of Zoom. On one unforgettable occasion, we were blessed with an online ceremony by the woman who is now the Director of Traditional Medicine for the national Department of Health in Bolivia, Vivian Camacho.
Sometimes the remote conferencing with our faraway producers worked; sometimes it failed miserably. Sometimes our hearts were broken by accidents of fate and we had to start all over again. Sometimes the tropical torrents came and left our producers swamped in the mud, unable to do anything. But persistence pays off, as they say, and we and our 14 film crews in 30 different communities managed to pull it off.
Cosmology & Pandemic is also a manifestation of our shared belief — no, more than a belief, a conviction — that the Indigenous peoples of this world have much to teach us, if we would only listen. And that by listening deeply, and learning without superimposing our own cultural conditioning, and working together, we might, just maybe, find our way out of the multiple cascading crises brought on by the colonial mindset that has caused them.
For the Misaks and the Arhuacos and the Kamentsás in Colombia, for the Q’eros and the Shipibos in Peru, for the Mapuches in Chile and the Salasacas and the Seikopais in Ecuador, the Kallawayas and the Qara Qaras in Bolivia and the Bororos and Xavantes of Brazil…. and many more…. this pandemic is about much more than a virus. It’s about a way of seeing the world and living life that works. Not just for a handful of privileged people who are driving the Earth into ruin. But for everyone, and for all species, for all times.
The first part of vision is now available to the public, in the form of a film and three stories, shot and reported with Indigenous filmmakers in their own communities. We are collaborating with the conservation magazine Mongabay and the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. We are posting daily on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. Episode I: The Body as Territory, set in the jungles and mountains of Colombia, is now available in English and Spanish at www.cosmopandemic.com.
We believe this series has the potential to awaken people to the deeper meaning of this pandemic, and the powerful potential of this moment. Please show us your love by giving us likes and comments and sharing in your networks. We are here because of you, and we are so much stronger together.