28 Dec 18 Communities Chile

Local cultural heritage initiative launched in Calama region, Chile

The launch of “Mujeres del Desierto” took place in Calama at the end of December and was attended by local authorities and representatives of the different communities of el Loa. This initiative aims to share the stories of the Andean women that live in desert who play a key role in preserving and passing on the local cultural heritage. During the launch, the women that are featured in the book were acknowledged for their contribution and were each presented with a copy of the book (pictured below).  Fourteen different groups were involved in this research project, which focused particularly on communities living between Chiu Chiu and Ollagüe, including the communities of Chunchuri and Likantatay.

This project was led by the cultural heritage researcher and writer, Carlos González Riffo, who has spent thirteen years researching the cultural heritage of el Loa. The project was funded by the mining company El Abra and renewable energy company Mainstream Renewable Power. Both companies are active in the region.

The author stated that “It is very important that we share these stories, particularly for younger generations, as young people in these areas usually leave their communities at an early age in order to continue their studies in nearby cities. This means that many of the local traditions are lost as these women are the only people left to carry them on.”

The book is accompanied by photographs of these women which show where they live and what they do. The women in the book work as potters, weavers, herbalists, healers, farmers, shepherdesses and caretakers of the local churches.

Copies of the book will be available in libraries and educational institutions across the region and will also be distributed to indigenous communities and associations.