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Poster Evocation, and Relational and Collaborative Research
Evocation, and Relational and
in action: a
European look to the Muisca’s
Colombian Ancestral Culture
Josep Seguí Dolz
Escuela de Psicología
School of Psychology
First of all… (or at the End…)
What is the Muisca’s Colombian Ancestral Culture?
I don’t know…
Do I really want to know it?
I’m not sure
Do I need to know it?
I think no
What I’m doing here?
I don’t know
I don’t need to know it…
In the year 1973…
Kenneth J. Gergen’s “Social Psychology as History”
“It is the rare social psychologist whose values do not influence the
subject of his research, his methods of observation, or terms of
description”. Journal of Personality and Social Research. Vol. 26 No.
2. p. 311.
Clifford Geertz’s “The Interpretation of Cultures”
“Human thinking is, first of all, a public act developed making
reference to the objective materials of common culture, and
only second is an intimate, private matter”. Tanslated from
Spanish edition. Barcelona: Gedisa. P. 82.
• “An interest in the discursive aspects of cultural representation draws
attention not to the interpretation of cultural ‘texts’ but to their
relations of production”. P. 13.
• “Etnographic texts are inescapably allegorical, and a serious acceptance
of this fact changes the ways they can be written and read.” P. 99.
• “Allegory draws special attention to the narrative character of
cultural representations, to the stories built into the
representational process itself”. P. 100.
• “ Whatever else an etnography does, it translates experience into
text. There are various ways of effecting this translation, ways that
have significant ethical and political consequences”. P. 115.
• “If we are condemned to tell stories we cannot control, may we not, at
least, tell stories we believe to be true”. P. 121.
Clifford, James and
Marcus, George E.
(Eds., 1984). Writing
Culture. The Poetics
and Politics of
University of California
Stephen A. Tyler
• “Now the ocular fairy tale is finished, the mirror broken”. P. 5.
• “The fable of participant observation both reveals and obscures the
presence of the native, for participants implies a “doing together” which
might include speaking together”. P. 98.
• “Postmodern ethnography must be another kind of intertextuality whose
project is not to reveal the other in univocal descripction (…). It must be
instead, a fantasy of identities, a plurivocal evocation of difference
making a unity in fantasy that mimics on every page (…)”. P. 102.
• Evocation is neither presentation nor representation. It presents no
objetcs and represents none, yet it makes available through absence what
can be conceived. It is thus beyond truth and immune to the judgement
of permormance. It overcomes the separation of the sensible and the
conceivable, or form and content, of self and other, of language and the
world”. P. 200.
• “A postmodern ethnography is a cooperatively evolved text “, P. 202.
Tyler, Stephen A. (1987).
Dialogue, and Rhetoric in
the Postmodern World.
Madison: The University of
George E. Marcus
• Multi-sited spaces for research: Following the People, the Thing
(through different contexts), the Metaphor, the Plot, Story, or Allegory,
the Life or Biography, the Conflict. P. 90-94.
• “The collaborative ideal entails the notions that knowledge creation in
fieldwork always involves negotiating a boundary between cultures and
the result is never reducible to a form of knowledge that can be
packaged in the monologic voice of the ethnographer alone”. P. 113.
• Culture as the object of ethnography is predicated on the notion that the
difference of others can be fully consumed, that is, assimilated to theory
and description by cracking codes of structure, through better
translation, and so forth. The postmodern idea of radical or surplus
difference counters the liberal concept with the premise that difference
can never be fully consumed, conquered, experienced, and thus that
any interpretative framework must remain partly unresolved in a more
serious sense than is usually stipulated as a matter of ‘good manners’ in
doing interpretative work”. P. 186.
Marcus, George E. (1998)
Ethnoraphy through Thick
& Thin. Princeton:
Kenneth J. Gergen
• “(…) the meaning of te performance is not te possession of the actor
alone. Its meaning is born in the coordination”. P. 74.
• “We confront additional problems when we take writings from other
cultures as evidence of universality”. P. 102.
• “For the relational being there is no inside versus outside; there is only
embodied action with others”. P. 138.
• “We collaborate with others to create who we are”. P. 155.
• “To understand each other is to coordinate our actions within the
common scenarios of our culture”. P. 165.
• “Consider, in contrast, the earlier account of multi-being (…). A more fully
relational form of writing could indeed reveal te faces of multi-being.”
• “Scientific research is (…) a matter (…) of participating in a community of
meaning makers to achieve goals valued by this community”. P. 238.
Gergen, Kenneth J.
(2009). Relational Being.
Beyond Self and
Oxford University Press.
Evocation. My (our) own definition
“Dialogically recreate the situation or process without taking
anything for granted
and taking everything that has been given for granted”.
• Ok, but, what can I do with this? More, what I want to do with this? Or, what I’d like to do
• Perhaps I only want to come in dialogue with “Others”. Or perhaps I only want to write about
exotic places and show beautiful pictures… Is this so?
• We can evoke by writing, taking photographs or videos, making music, dancing,…
• We can evoke to create a new reality with “Others”
• What about credibility? All I can do is to be honest… Nothing else…
Rosita Suárez is a Colombian Social Psychologist who has been working with original cultures
during the last 30 years. I was impressed reading her book (with anthropologist Carlos E. Pinzón),
“’Lechuza’ women. History, Body and Witchery in Boyacá” (1992). Bogotá: CEREC.
Se called me to help her in a research about indigenous mental health in Colombia.
Why me? I don’t know anything about this matter!!!
She just needed someone wo was not influenced by political and cultural context. Se needed
I accepted her invitation…
An example: a trip to the
At the Colombian’s
Dialogue about the
future of Social
Starting te trip
“Each day they remind us that we are nature and invite us to
live the teachings of the Elders, learning from their wisdom;
and to walk together the ways of life, hear the wind, the
trees, the birds, the outdoors, gather our hearts to ‘thinking
bonito’ and ‘thought knitting stitch by stitch’”. Rosita
• Such concepts as “nature”, “teachings”, “Elders”, “learning”, “wisdom”, … have not the
same meaning for the Muiscas and for us.
• “Thinking bonito” is not to think in the right way, or with good intentions, or something
like this. I can’t translate “bonito” into English. I’m not sure what does it exactly mean.
What I’m doing is to co-evoke with Rosita this and a lot of other meanings.
This is Bogotá, Colombia…
Economical, comercial and cultural area
… and this is also Bogotá
Canadá Güira neighborhood and Veinte de Julio church
Canadá Güira neighborhood. Near to Entre Nubes park
Here is where theWorld began
"The ‘Periquera’, ancestral name
originated from the abundance of
‘pericos’ (parrots) that existed in this
area, the barley river that forms seven
waterfalls, were mythological place of
worship of the spirits of the Muiscas,
was energizated to accompany their
gods, Bochica and Bochué, watchers
from high in the Iguaque lagoon... ".
There in Iguaque is where it all began ...
Is this “true”? Why not?
"Spanish people, and a little later English, took all the gold, quartz and emeralds.
But they could not take the real treasure of Guatavita ..."
(It is believed that the legend of Eldorado has its origins exactly in this place)
Here the Muiscas raised a genuine
temple to the fertility of the land. The
temple was made of giant phalluses.
When the invaders arrived they were
horrified. His spiritual colonists believed
they were in hell, hence the name of
this sacred space for original people,
and proceeded to the temple's
destruction. There are some pieces that
help us to evoke ...
A journey at the Marketplace. Villa de
And now… It’s time to write!!!
• When you are doing relational research,
you are changing with the process
• More than change, from Collaborative
Practices we prefer to talk about
• But it is not “Me” or my “Self” who is
changing. It’s just the relationships with
the “Others” which are transforming
• And, with this, the reality is
transforming “Me”, whatever it is, I
• The only thing I can do is to evoke
the unspeakable “Other”. At the
same time, and through the same
process, the only thing I can say about
“Me” is by evoking my relationships…
Villa de Leyva square
We are constructing a way of understanding between us, and, also,
wishing to be understood by ‘Others’…
We want to dialogue about a lot of things. But not only about the “exotic” ones. There are nothing “exotic” in
the Colombian’s social reality. Everything is “real”, very real… And present, too much present…
I want to know more and more about the Muisca’s culture. But also about the social problem of the
displaced people because of the war and violence, for example. People that I have seen and known in the
Canadá Güira neighborhood…
From our text in process:
Josep - “I’m feeling a little as Barley’s ‘Innocent Anthropologist’*. I am a guest (with a tribute to Harlene
Anderson!**) in a country and in a culture that I don’t know anything about. I am in a country from which I only
receive news that have nothing to do with reality, whatever this is. Yes, Rosita is my ‘informant’, in a classical
sense. She explains to me a lot of things. Step by step I’m surprised with everything. Sometimes I’m afraid. Now I
think I understand something. Then my understanding is blurred. I am sure of my wisdom illustrated backed by
two thousand five hundred years of rational knowledge from classical Greece. But the next minute I think I
know nothing; I absolutely can’t understand anything of what I'm seeing in this chaotic, but beautiful and
friendly in many ways, city. The Monserrate greets me. As always, wherever you are in Bogotá”.
Rosita – “There are many stories, memories that constructs our "identities". Unlike Mexico or Peru we did not
have a dominant group with features of state. We had many and various. A few more warriors than others. The
Caribbean, as called by conquerors, were the inhabitants of these lands. The interior was Muiscas. Bacatá was
the territory of Zipa Sagipa. It means "Country Farm“, and Bogotá "territory minga, or of the Supreme Being."
The minga is a collective work in which each person contributes. BOGOTA meaning: BO = Divinity, GO =
Collective Work, TA = Farm. This territory is under the custody of two large hills: Monserrate and Guadalupe,
names assigned by the Spaniards. They are the guardians, the great "legs", foundations and strengths of
ancestral territory. I understand your feeling, when you say Monserrate is "greeting you, wherever you are."
True, for the citizens of Bogotá, Monserrate and Guadalupe are our guide and reference. If we feel lost, we seek
the hills to guide us”.
* Barley, Nigel (1983). The Innocent Anthropologist. Notes from a Mud Hut. Illinois: Waveland Press. ** Anderson, Harlene (1997). Conversation, Language, and Possibilities. A Postmodern
Aproach to Therapy. New York: BasicBooks.
• Is this Social Science, or it is just ‘only’ a way
of writing, as Literature or Poetry?
• What consequences can evocation have to the
work of the social researcher, or psychologist
• It could be a new or complementary way of
doing collaborative and relational research
processes in the field
• We need to explore more all the possibilities…