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Queen Mary’s People’s Palace Project research is nominated for Times Higher Education Award

The research project, Xingu Encounter, explores new ways for researchers to work with indigenous people in Brazil to preserve and protect their knowledge and culture. The work has been nominated in the category of ‘International Collaboration of the Year’.

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Takumã Kuikuro is an award-winning indigenous filmmaker
Takumã Kuikuro is an award-winning indigenous filmmaker

After fifty years of limited protection in Brazil, the rights of indigenous people and the survival of indigenous cultures and knowledge are coming under increased threat.

Research that supports social justice is a key priority for Queen Mary University of London, and for Professor Paul Heritage, Director of People's Palace Projects.

Since 2017, Heritage has worked with Kuikuro community association AIKAX, of Brazil's Upper Xingu, to create new models for equitable exchanges that put Kuikuro culture in dialogue with international artists, researchers, indigenous activists and publics in the UK, Brazil and Europe, while respecting the fragility of the Kuikuro culture and environment.

Immersive experiences

Last year researchers from Queen Mary’s People’s Palace Projects teamed up with filmmaker Takumã Kuikuro, and other indigenous researchers, to bring an immersive experience about a village in the Xingu territories of Brazil to the Horniman Museum and Gardens in south London.

The installation brought alive both the day-to-day existence and the urgent issues of a community of 800 people, whose lives are held in a delicate balance between first millennium cultural practices and the technologies of our contemporary world.

Professor Paul Heritage said: “From the Xingu we learn how arts and cultural practices are essential to the preservation of life and the protection of the global environment.

“This unique international partnership shows how immersive technologies create new connections between objects and people, revealing the stories we need to tell and to hear about the world around us.”

The Times Higher Education Awards ceremony is the biggest night of celebration in the UK Higher Education calendar, and will take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel on Park Lane in London on Thursday 28 November 2019.

Times Higher Education Editor John Gill said: “I am delighted to say that the ‘Oscars of higher education’ go from strength to strength. With 23 categories this year, we’re also showcasing more exceptional stories than ever before, and it’s a real honour for us to shine a spotlight on all those who have made it as far as these shortlists – their stories deserve much wider circulation.”

About People’s Palace Projects

People’s Palace Projects was set up in Queen Mary’s School of English and Drama in 1996. For the past 20 years, its cultural exchange programmes and creative projects have sought to make a measurable impact on people’s lives. This includes working in the Brazilian prison system, negotiating cease fires between rival drug gangs in Rio de Janeiro and improving degraded environments in Acre, Brazil.

In 2010, People’s Palace Projects became the first and only UK arts organisation to be designated as one of the Brazilian Ministry of Culture’s International ‘Pontos de Cultura’ (Points of Culture). Professor Paul Heritage has also been knighted by the Brazilian government for his contribution to UK-Brazilian cooperation. 

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