town of Coronel Xavier Chaves, with approximately 3.000
inhabitants, is located at the center of the historical
region of the State of Minas Gerais, scenario of the Inconfidência
Mineira (1789), an important political movement of Brazilian
history that took place during colonization and the gold
is only a few kilometers away from the towns of Tiradentes, a
municipality of which it was once part, São João
Del Rei, and other cities that also had important roles in Brazilian
history, culture and baroque art. The town of Coronel Xavier Chaves
has recently discovered its tourist vocation, being now in the
process of developing it. With a rural economy based on farming
and cattle raising, the region is also rich in iron ore. The towns
tranquility is often disturbed by the passage of the train along
its mountains, with its hundreds of wagons, carrying iron ore
to the port of Sepetiba, in Rio de Janeiro.
Coronel Xavier Chaves
work of the regions artisan women is well-known, with its
handicrafts made with Abrolhos lace. Their association - Associação
das Mulheres Artesãs de Coronel Xavier Chaves AMARCHA
is also an example of community participation in developmental
projects. Existing now for 18 years, the association has had a
central role in local development. It represents the continuation
of the towns tradition and crafts. About 400 women artisans,
of which the great majority are farm workers, have already passed
by the association in order to learn how to do the "abrolhos".
The result was the possibility of paid work for these women, a
subsequent increase in the family income, and a marked improvement
in the artisans self-esteem for doing something that
is considered valuable and nationally acknowledged, and which
is often in the media.
LANGUAGE AND REPRESENTATION WITHIN THE BRAZILIAN RURAL ENVIRONMENT.
challenge implied in any survey related to womens
body language is how to maintain its unity with the sociocultural
context from where it originates. It reminds us that old
womens tales are the best way to capture this context.
A long questionnaire with several themes was applied to
a few women from the area under study. Interviews had also
been recorded on videotapes, and are part of the Image Bank
at the Image Lab. Concurrently, we presented a film showing
local womens body language: at work, either at home
or at the fields, during moments of leisure, and performing
family and religious duties. The purpose of our research
was to discuss the body techniques, materials and rituals
used by these Brazilian women, considering the body representation
and language contained in their reports.
could these women meet in order to attain the research goals?
An association of womens artisans seemed to us like
an ideal place. And this is why we conducted our work in
the artisans association, where we started by investigating
a technique common to all: a typical embroidering technique,
very ancient, which translates into a body movement which
produces an aesthetic object, at the same time useful and
1. Inquiry on the womens cultural memories
2. Film record of the daily body language.
3. Group role playing (dramatic games and video-feedback)
community was then contacted to do a study, which was recorded in
over 11 hours of video, concerning local female body language. It
was documented through a report
Unesco s request, and constitutes an experiment in the use
of videos as research methodology. In this study, the film records
have two purposes: to record social and cultural local aspects,
from the standpoint of visual anthropology, and to use the technique
of video-feedback with the artisans group in order to work
with body language. The focus was the study of body techniques as
a way to reach womens cultural memories through body language.
film As bordadeiras (The Embroiderers) portrays a local development
initiative in a rural Brazilian town, and points out the importance
of local development agents. The interviews with town inhabitants
constitute an important record of the cultural memory in a region
where oral tradition is still the main source of information on
history and culture.
purpose was to highlight the importance of community participation
and, by extension, of participative research, in projects related
to sustainable development.
2001, a new research document was prepared in the same community:
AS BORDADEIRAS (THE EMBROIDERERS).
artisans association located in the interior of the
State of Minas Gerais, Brazil, is reviewed 11 years later
by a team of researchers.
did the association survive despite all the hardships?
What were the changes in the town and in the lives of its
artisans talk about their daily lives and the Abrolhos embroidering
tradition in successive generations.
Chaves, founder of the association, tells of her trajectory
attempting to recover local tradition and to valorize the
local womens work, reflecting at the same time on
Brazil as a developing country.
documentary shows the participation of communities in their
own development process and the agents role as articulators