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Lend your help to a quest for justice in Peru

Image of people putting up a Quipu Project poster in Peru

Collaborators in Peru travel to towns and villages and promote the Quipu Project

Press release issued: 24 November 2014

A University of Bristol project which aims to connect the voices of people affected by forced sterilisations in Peru with listeners around the world has launched a crowd-funding campaign, with its partner Chaka Studio, to raise the £20,000 needed to develop and expand its work.

The Quipu Project is designed to collaborate with women and men who were sterilised in Peru in the mid-1990s.  Predominantly from impoverished or indigenous communities, many were forced, coerced, or not given enough information to decide whether sterilisation was what they wanted.

Since then, some have become activists, campaigning for acknowledgement, apology and compensation.  But from remote regions with no access to the internet, in many cases illiterate and Quechua rather than Spanish speaking, they have struggled to make themselves heard by those in power.  Legal cases have been shelved several times and, as yet, there has been no reparation for the sterilisations.

The Quipu Project, a collaboration between Dr Matthew Brown and Dr Karen Tucker  of the University of Bristol and Chaka Studio, was set up to help their stories reach a wider audience and, it is hoped, encourage the Peruvian government to listen again to their testimonies. 

Working with Chaka Studio and Peruvians who were sterilised, Dr Brown and colleagues have developed a free telephone line that collaborators in Peru can use to record themselves speaking about their experience of sterilisation.

The phone line operates like a web forum, and the collaborators can also listen to others’ testimonies and record responses, so people who were sterilised can offer each other support and solidarity, as the archive of testimony grows.

A team of collaborators in Peru travel to towns and villages and promote the Quipu Project by talking to people, handing out leaflets and speaking on the radio.  Once recorded, testimonies are moderated, transcribed and translated. 

Dr Brown said: “The testimonies will be uploaded to an online archive, where you will be able to listen to them and, if you choose, record a message in response.  In many cases, this will be one of the first times these experiences will be heard outside the collaborators’ own communities.  At the same time, if you leave a message, your voice will be one of the first internationally to recognise the collaborators’ testimonies. 

“Our hope is that through global recognition and by creating a record of the sterilisations, we can help the collaborators find the acknowledgement they have been fighting for.”

To watch a short film about the project and support the campaign, visit the Indiegogo website 

Further information

The Quipu Project is named after an ancient Incan counting system which used threads and knots to keep records in a predominantly oral culture.  The cords were made from cotton, llama or alpaca hair and were used for everything from tax and census-keeping to storytelling, where the threads and knots were prompts for memory and language.

A full beta test of the Quipu Project concept phone line and digital technology is currently running thanks to funding from the Tribeca New Media Fund  and CrossCurrents Doc Fund.  The initial prototype was funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council REACT-Hub.

The money raised by the crowd-funding campaign will be used to develop the technology, including the back-end infrastructure that is the backbone of the Quipu Project, along with the phone line software, and expand the project to other areas, such as the Anta-Cusco region, where activists representing over 1,300 women and men have been organised and campaigning for 15 years.

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