‘Rivers to RIVERS’ – The many individual journeys to a collaborative research adventure

‘Rivers to RIVERS’ took place from 3 to 5 March 2021 in the form of a hybrid meeting. During the seminar, all members of the RIVERS project got to know each other and developed a common research plan.

It all began with a book that Lieselotte Viaene, the principal investigator of the RIVERS project, read as a child. De hel bestaat (‘Hell exists’) (1984), a novel by the Belgian author Willy Spillebeen, awakened Lieselotte’s curiosity about Mayan civilisation and Spanish colonisation. Her academic and career journey then led her to collaborate with indigenous peoples in Guatemala, Peru, Ecuador and Colombia.

This is the story Lieselotte shared at ‘Rivers to RIVERS’, which took place from 3 to 5 March 2021 in the form of a hybrid meeting. All members of the RIVERS project participated in the seminar: Marina Albuquerque Regina de Mattos Vieira, Carolina Angel Botero, María Ximena González Serrano, Austin Lord, Elisa Mandiola López, Digno José Montalván Zambrano, Camille Parguel, Lieselotte Viaene and María Jacinta Xón Riquiac. During these three days, the team members could learn from each other’s academic and professional background – be it in Asia, Europe or Latin America. Anthropology, biology, history, law, philology and political science: the participants’ different research profiles enriched the debate, as did their diverse experiences as activists for indigenous peoples’ rights and lawyers (among many others).

‘Rivers to RIVERS’ was also an opportunity to collectively reflect on the further steps of the project. Building on the World Café method, the team members developed a common research plan for the year 2021. A graphic designer translated in real time the collaborative brainstorming into a visual language. We are glad to share this graphic roadmap here. Now that the whole crew has boarded the RIVERS boat, all we have to do is set off on our adventure …

daniel vera