Tag Archives: Radio

Indigenous Languages on the Airwaves

Posted by Ximena Málaga Sabogal, PhD student in Anthropology at NYU

MalagaSabogal_Peru_ROA

Norma interviews professor Equicio Paxi in Radio Onda Azul

It is 3 am and, if I am to believe my cellphone, it is also -9°C in Puno, Peru. Even if there was heating in the place where I am staying (and there is none) I would probably still be cold. But my excitement compensates the weather as I am heading once again to Radio Onda Azul (ROA) for its “Quechua Rimayninchik” weekday program. Andean music, plenty of jokes, calls from communities far away, but also reflections on the state of indigenous peoples nowadays: all of these and more come together from 3 to 5 am. Chaska and Norma, two women in their early 30s, are in charge of facilitating these exchanges and making sure that the conversation keeps flowing.

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Radio and politics in the Peruvian Altiplano

Posted by Ximena Málaga Sabogal, PhD student in Anthropology at NYU

Radio Onda Azul - XMS

I am used to being asked what anthropology is and what, as an anthropologist, do I “actually” do. I usually have a different set of answers depending on my interlocutors. But something that I always have to deal with is the “classical” definition of anthropology, the one that implies studying “a traditional way of life”. Although that definition can be a good starting point for a conversation, I try to bring it to and interest in social changes as soon as I can. If not, how to explain that analyzing the ways in which radio affects – or comes from – everyday life is also anthropology? When studying media as social and cultural repertories, anthropologists have a lot of competition in the field. I am constantly mistaken for a journalist working on a piece, which changes the interactions with my interlocutors.

What has this interest on radio to do with my search for Aymara and Quechua identity definitions and its connections with the international indigenous movement? In Puno the answer is: a lot. Radio has been present in Altiplano’s peasants’ life for a long time. In part due to the low electrification of the region, radio has been – and in some districts of Puno still is – the most popular communication device. The first radio to begin operations in Puno was Onda Azul, back in the 1950s. This is not only the first radio, it is also a very special one. It comes from an early initiative of Puno’s Catholic Church and answers to the developmental model of educación popular. In a time when Puno had one of the highest levels of illiteracy, Onda Azul worked hand in hand with the Peruvian government to develop a program of escuelas radiofónicas. Radios were given in different communities in the Aymara and Quechua sectors of Puno and every day the people would come together to listen to classes and solve exercises with the help of a facilitator. At the end of the school year, the Ministry of Education would organize exams for the people involved in the radio classes, and hand out official diplomas to the ones who passed everything.

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Quechua Radio in the Peruvian Andes: Part I

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Youth Producers at Radio Huanta, Ayacucho, Peru

The focus of my thesis is on Quechua language, culture and media. During winter break last January, I went to Lima and met with Chirapaq headquarters, an NGO in Peru that supports indigenous culture.

One of their oldest projects is “Sapinchikmanta,” which means “From our roots” in Quechua. This project trains people in Ayacucho and other parts of Andes to produce radio shows in the Quechua language along with Spanish.This summer, I decided to start my field work researching this project as part of my thesis project, but before returning to Peru, I was able to start my research in New York in May, when I attended the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues. I followed and attended presentations on community radio from Guatemala, and met people who identify themselves as indigenous from different parts of Latin America.

In mid-June I arrived in Huamanga, the capital of Ayacucho where I began my work by meeting the staff of Chirapaq at their office in this city.

They introduced me to three stations in the region. I was surprised to learn that that these stations only broadcast one hour a week. I read that that there used to be five stations, which broadcast more frequently. During the next two weeks, I visited each station. First in Huamanga, then onto Huanta and Wilcashuaman, about two hours away in rural areas with a distinct climate and history. I did interviews (in Quechua) with the producers and listeners.

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