Exposing Paraguay's complex social history of ethnic groups

An EU-funded project narrated the social tensions between Paraguay's different ethnic groups through the history of a tannin factory - the first to hire indigenous people. It aimed to foster discussion on the current and future socio-political situation in the former Spanish colony.

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Gambia
  Georgia

Countries
Countries
  Algeria
  Argentina
  Australia
  Austria
  Bangladesh
  Belarus
  Belgium
  Benin
  Bolivia
  Botswana
  Brazil
  Bulgaria
  Burkina Faso
  Cambodia
  Cameroon
  Canada
  Cape Verde
  Chile
  China
  Colombia
  Costa Rica
  Croatia
  Cyprus
  Czech Republic
  Denmark
  Ecuador
  Egypt
  Estonia
  Ethiopia
  Faroe Islands
  Finland
  France
  French Polynesia
  Gambia
  Georgia


  Infocentre

Published: 16 April 2018  
Related theme(s) and subtheme(s)
Human resources & mobilityMarie Curie Actions
Research policySeventh Framework Programme
Countries involved in the project described in the article
Italy
Add to PDF "basket"

Exposing Paraguay's complex social history of ethnic groups

Image

© ruslanita - fotolia.com

Nestled in the belly of South America is the small Casado tannin factory that helps reveals the stories of Paraguay’s different social groups – from the indigenous Guarani to the ruling classes of Spanish descent. The EU-funded ARCHFACT project explored the plant’s past in an effort to promote dialogue between these groups and highlight how indigenous people have contributed to the country’s economic development. 

The factory, located in the town of Puerto Casado, manufactured tannin – a substance extracted from ‘quebracho’ trees and used for tanning animal hides. Its history from 1889 to 2000 involves former workers, Salesian missionaries, the Casado-Sastre family who owned it and the descendants of Argentine managers and technicians.

“What makes this history particularly interesting is that half of the factory’s work force since the late 19th century was made up of indigenous people – the only factory in Paraguay to hire them,” says Valentina Bonifacio, anthropologist and researcher at Italy’s Ca’ Foscari University of Venice and an EU Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow. “By narrating the history of the factory, I am also analysing the relationship between the different groups that worked in it for almost one century.”

Making Paraguay’s social history accessible

Bonifacio organised four exhibitions about the project – two in Paraguay, one in New York and one in Venice. Through images and explanations, they presented the history of the factory and the role of indigenous people in contributing to the economic development of Paraguay.

The project also produced a book narrating the oral history of the factory’s 100-year history. It allows a wide audience to uncover previously unspoken aspects of both the plant and the country’s past. Bonifacio hopes it will help foster discussion on the current socio-political situation in Paraguay and the direction it could take in the future.

“The book shows the history of the exploitation of natural resources and land distribution,” she says. “In Puerto Casado the recovery of this history is particularly important given the fast pace that development is taking and the big changes that all the area is undergoing.”

Promoting dialogue

Bonifacio also started a website where she uploaded her research fieldwork including video interviews, photos and documents. Her aim was to stimulate feedback from the locals to encourage them to take part in the project.

“I also hope that the reconstruction of this common history between indigenous and non-indigenous might foster a dialogue between the different groups of people in Puerto Casado – a relationship that is fraught with many tensions today,” she says.

Throughout the project, Bonifacio interviewed 72 ex-factory workers – both indigenous and non-indigenous – as well as major political figures in the area. She also rescued abandoned administrative documents from the factory ruins.

Going forward, the Museo del Barro in Asuncion, the Paraguayan partner of the project, has resolved to help bridge the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous artistic work.

Bonifacio received funding in 2014 for the project through the EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellowship programme. She was the first Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow in Italy to be hired as a tenure-track researcher by her host institution, Ca’ Foscari University of Venice.

Project details

  • Project acronym: ARCHFACT
  • Participants: Italy
  • Project N°: 628519
  • Total costs: € 272 285
  • EU contribution: € 272 285
  • Duration: August 2014 to August 2017

See also

 

Convert article(s) to PDF

No article selected


loading


Search articles

Notes:
To restrict search results to articles in the Information Centre, i.e. this site, use this search box rather than the one at the top of the page.

After searching, you can expand the results to include the whole Research and Innovation web site, or another section of it, or all Europa, afterwards without searching again.

Please note that new content may take a few days to be indexed by the search engine and therefore to appear in the results.

Print Version
Share this article
See also
Project website
Project details