The Project on Andean Peasant Technologies (PRATEC) is a Peruvian NGO that works with rural communities on various projects related to education and cultural affirmation. Active for over 20 years, PRATEC has evolved a way of working with the indigenous peoples of the Andean highlands that is based on the spirit of walking together with, rather than leading or guiding, the local communities. Independent filmmaker Maja Tillmann Salas collaborated with PRATEC from 2003 until 2007 to produce a number of videos documenting their projects and activities, ranging from deschooling and educational reform to the ritual nurturance of cultivated fields. Many of her films have been screened at international festivals. PRATEC has more recently worked with Sachavideos based in Lamas, Peru. Collectively, these videos offer a unique view of Andean peasant communities and their cosmovision that sees life in a reciprocal relationship with nature, where human beings are nurtured by nature, and in return nature is nurtured by human beings.
Sowing Knowledge, We Will Harvest Diversity (2009)
From 2006 until 2009, the boys and girls from the schools of Matara district, one of twelve districts of the province Cajamarca in Peru, worked at recovering a caring and respectful way of growing a variety of native crops, such as maize and beans, which have always nurtured the people of the region. They are also recovering the knowledge of their grandparents, as well as music, weaving, basket making, and embroidery. From the perspective of, and narrated by, local children this video tells the story of intergenerational communication and the rejuvenation of traditions in the agrocentric communities of the Peruvian Andes. The children of Matara are working with their teachers and their parents, who accompany them in different activities done in school and in their own chacras, or cultivated fields. At the schools in Rio Seco, Condormarca, Tinajones, and other nearby towns, parents help their children grow crops and take care of the school chacras, as well as in all the different agricultural activities, such as selecting and storing seeds, preparing the soil, sowing and weeding, and harvesting. The parents and elders also help the children with rituals, blessing the seeds so that they grow pretty and strong.
Sow to Eat in the Peruvian Andes (2007)
Food and life are intimately intertwined among the Quechua-Lama communities of the High Andes. The local cosmovision sees a mutual relationship between humans and nature, bound to one another in a reciprocal pattern of nature nurturing humans as humans nurture nature. And eating is central to this relationship, as all organisms in the cycle must eat and rely on a healthy abundance of food. This video portrays the biodiversity of food within a regional community near San Martin, Peru, where villagers, farmers, and families live an agrocentric lifestyle with their chacras, or cultivated fields. At the same time, this lifestyle is stressed due to migration and pollution, so the community is also attempting to regenerate its traditional knowledge to face these challenges.
Allin Kawsay: Well-Being in the Andes (2007)
In the Andes, when local people talk about welfare, "allin kawsay," they mean living in harmony among all beings, not just among humans. But for healthy living among humans, deities, and nature, material well-being is not the basis for feeling good. What matters most is respect. This video explores processes of cultural and agricultural rejuvenation in the High Andes, and features scenes depicting the recovery of knowledge nearly lost to recent generations, including the myriad uses of local plants, as well as discussions on the importance of maintaining respect for cultural traditions in clothing and music.
Sallqa Mama: Natural Communities in the Andean Highlands (2007)
The Law of the Earth is expressed in the Andes in the relationship of affection and respect that the Andean communities hold for their land, their duties and their deities, which are revealed in an active process of mutual nurturance. This understanding of the Andean peoples of today about community environmental governance guarantees the sustainability of life in their ecosystem, and ultimately on our planet. This video addresses two key questions related to the sallqa, or natural communities, of the Andean Highlands: What is the relationship of Andean Highlands communities with the wild? How is this relationship expressed in concrete community activities that may be strengthened?
The Way of the Chacra (2006)
Rural communities in the Peruvian Andes live with their chacras, or cultivated fields. In this video, farmers demonstrate some of the methods used to care for the chacra and the surrounding mountain, in the belief that as nature nurtures people the people also have to nurture nature. Water and soil conservation, times and days, even attitudes, for the best planting and sowing, and knowing when to let the chacra rest, all of these are part of living according to the way of the chacra.
Puchka Kururay: Threading Life Around (2006)
Insights to ritual life and community learning among indigenous peoples of the Andes. In Huarcaya, Peru, children known as bailiffs learn the responsibilities of ritual life in this agrocentric community by doing directly during the year, especially in the four moments of harmonization of the Pacha (the cosmos and the local world). In Carnival (February), Holy Week (April), Yarqa Aspiy (the water festival held in September) and Christmas (December), they are in charge of rituals where they converse with the deities. This conversation is an exchange of experience and affection that will accompany them in their lives. This is a way of learning how to thread life into rounds, it is a way of nurturing the children of Huarcaya.
Samaykuy: To Give Breath to Encourage (2005)
Since beginning its work in 2002, the Fund for Community Cultural Affirmation Initiatives has accompanied the indigenous peoples of the high Andes in the recovery of respect for traditional crafts within their extended families. As understood through the local cosmovision, these families include not only the people in their communities but also the spirits and nature of the local environment. Samaykuy shows the experience of the Nucleus of Andean Cultural Affirmation with the Fund by focusing on the first three years of its operation to recover weaving and pottery making.
Iskay Yachay: Two Kinds of Knowledge (2005)
This video brings the voices and minds of campesinos from Cusco, Peru. They explain what school they want for their children. What education is needed for life to flourish and for the strength of ancestral times to be carried over to new generations. Over the past decade the Nucleus for Andean Cultural Affirmation has been working in Cusco with groups of rural teachers and parents in order to attain an understanding of education and cultural diversity. The reflections they make on the way in which Andean children learn of both worlds, Western and Andean, lead them to unexpected conclusions that deserve to be listened to and taken into account.
Being a Wawa in the Andes (2003)
The diverse world in which a child is nurtured in the Andes of Peru is alive. The inhabitants of the Andes are in constant conversation with nature. Humans nurture nature and nature nurtures humans. Maria Nunez from Cuchoquesera, Quispillaccta, Ayacucho, describes her life as being a garden in which different flowers are found. Maria Nunez sees in herself a community of flowers, not only an individual.
Allin Puriq: Virtuous Walking (2003)
Cultural Affirmation is an ongoing process by which the Andean communities who live in a place regenerate the practices which allow them to nurture their local world for a life worth living in sufficiency. In the Peruvian Andes this life turns around the ritual nurture of plants and animals in an affectionate and respectful conversation with Nature, promoting the flowering of great agricultural and biological diversity. The Fund for Cultural Affirmation is a program coordinated by the Andean Project for Peasant Technologies (PRATEC). It is supported by the Geneva Federation for Cooperation and sponsored by the Swiss Organization 'Traditions for Tomorrow.' The Fund is destined to support initiatives of cultural affirmation of Andean and Amazonian Communities.
Loving Teacher (2003)
This video illustrates the effort toward understanding and learning to respect the visions of multiple communities in Peru, and how these are integrated in education. The cooperation between the Andean-Amazonian communities and their rural schools is a fundamental process in which teachers and communities seek to change attitudes, to convert the school to a place in which children learn in a loving way how to be in both worlds, the traditional local one and the modern western one, without neglecting or negating their cultural identity.
Culturally Sensitive Education (2003)
A culturally sensitive education program friendly to local knowledge in the high mountains of Peru. An experience of Vida Dulce in Andahuaylas in collaboration with Proyecto Andino de Tecnologias Campesinas in the project Children and Biodiversity, funded by Terre des hommes, Germany. Schools in the high Andes design and implement a significant percentage of the school curriculum, which due to the hard work of communities and teachers has been adjusted to suit local needs, rather than those of the educational technocrats in Lima. At the time this video was made in 2003, the community designed 30% of the curriculum, but following the success of the project most of the curriculum is now in the hands of the community. This video documents the early stages of that process. Special thanks to the communities of Churrubamba and Cotahuacho.
The Ritual Nurturance of Cultivated Fields in the Andes (2003)
In the Andean Highlands and in the Upper Amazon, ten Nuclei for Andean Cultural Affirmation are operating as executing units of the project in situ for the conservation of native plants and their wild relatives. They carry out these activities in coordination with the Andean Project for Peasant Technologies (PRATEC), which has learned to walk hand in hand with, and even be guided by, the peasant communities. This project received financial support from the Global Environmental Facilities and the Italian Government, managed by the local United Nations Development Program office.
Maja Tillmann Salas is currently a member of InsightShare, where she has worked since 2008 at participatory video production with a focus on illustrating the cosmovisions of indigenous peoples. Prior to her films with PRATEC, she created the audiovisual department at the Center for Biodiversity and Indigenous Knowledge in Kunming, China, and she studied visual anthropology and filmmaking at the University of San Francisco. She has made over 40 films, several of them award winning.
[The videos featured on this page can be downloaded from the TV Multiversity channel on Vimeo. Selections of PRATEC videos are also available on YouTube. For more information about PRATEC and its activities readers may consult The Spirit of Regeneration: Andean Culture Confronts Western Notions of Development, edited by Frederique Apffel-Marglin with PRATEC (Zed Books, 1998).]