Studying and travelling in the jungles and mountains of Brazil and Peru

Hauxita Jergeschew, student of M.A. Visual and Media Anthropology, is all ready to go back to South America. Prior to her studies, she has already lived with indigenous people and thanks to Distance Learning, she will be joining the study group from the road in the upcoming semester. More about her experiences in the rainforest and the Andes she shared with us in this interview.

Hauxita with fellow indigenous friend, Puyanawa village, Brazil, 2019 (Photo: Hauxita Jergeschew)

Hauxita with fellow indigenous friend, Puyanawa village, Brazil, 2019 (Photo: Hauxita Jergeschew)

You have already lived with indigenous people for ten years and will now be going back to the Brazilian and Peruvian jungle over the upcoming winter semester while studying the distance learning study program M.A. Visual and Media Anthropology online. That sounds amazing! Please tell us more about it!

Yes, I have been calling Perú my home for many years and have been based in the Andes, and this is where I will return to in September. I’d like to spend some time with my indigenous friends in a remote Quechua-community on around 5000 meters altitude: to sit and share with them, get inspired through their ways, learn more Quechua and stay open for what might come out of our communal time. I’d like to take the practice of Prayer into focus.

Afterwards, for the rainy season, I will return to the lowland-jungle in Northern Perú, to meet with a curandero (healer) with whom I have worked for two years in isolation while I was dieting different medicinal plants. He comes from the Vegetalista-lineage, which means that his focus of healing work is based entirely on the plant realm. Out of reasons of privacy and confidentiality I will not go into detail now about my research project there.

Depending on the general travel situation in South America, I would love to return to Brazil as well, where I have visited, during multiple journeys, indigenous communities in the rainforest. Some of those friends I haven’t visited since the beginning of the pandemic, it’s time to return for me. I also have a couple projects going on with them. I would love to visit new communities and regions in Brazil, and as I know already, planning jungle adventures ahead is one thing and allowing the journey to guide you is another, meaning: No need for planning, honestly. I am also intending to making my way to the jungles of Colombia and Guyana, to prepare a future-expedition to Mount Roraima/Tepuis. This place has been calling me for years.

Could you tell us a bit about how you discovered your research topic and how you got in touch with the indigenous people that you were living with? What have you learned through this experience?

First of all, I have not discovered any research topic in the first place. I decided to spend time in the Perúvian Rainforest ten years ago, for personal reasons, to work with medicinal plants in the Vegetalista-tradition mentioned in the previous question. Through this very first experience in the jungle, my life trajectory changed in an unexpected way. Throughout being in that region for a good amount of time, I met other indigenous people, also, I started learning the language: And so the story unfolds...

After a couple of years in the Perúvian jungle, I had the urge to go to the Brazilian jungle and spent time with indigenous communities there. Through universal guidance (there is no better description than that) and other circumstances, did I first visit a roman-catholic Monastery in a Brazilian jungle city, founded in the 1930s. There I met some indigenous representatives who came to the monastery, as they have been missionized by those monks decades earlier. During my time in the monastery, I also connected to FUNAI-agency, a government founded body to protect indigenous rights and work for their cause. This is how I have received more information on indigenous communities that I could visit and decided to go to the Puyanawa People, and there, during multiple occasions, did I meet many more indigenous people from other communities, whom I went to visit and re-visit. Throughout the years, research topics have appeared naturally, some of those I am currently sitting with and also delving into new ones.

When coming to the second question: I am still learning and everything is still unfolding. First of all, I have un-learnt many things and then, I have learnt a lot a-new, from the teachings of the jungle, pachamama (Mother Earth) and the indigenous people I spent so much time with.

I am able to understand myself better through my time in the Andes and Amazonas, coming closer to my essence and – appreciating and constantly integrating the teachings about and through community, sharing, communication, nature, ancestry, as well as traditional healing and rituals.

 

Why did you decide to study “M.A. Visual and Media Anthropology”?

I was looking for an opportunity to connect everything that matters to me in a new way. This also refers to my life before the jungle and my journey of the last ten years. Broadly, I am coming from activism, art, research – and for the last 10 years, bringing in community, education, healing practices as well as the environment to the field. I’d like to find my own language of expression – I am open to all mediums and ways for this purpose. The decision to study VMA came along as opening a new door to inspiration.

In your opinion, from which experiences/courses/projects during your studies will you benefit the most in your future career?

Probably it’s too early in my studies to answer this question adequately, as our second semester has just started. So far, I believe that experiment, focus, inspiration, sharing and self-exploration are already accompanying me on my way through the classes and consultations with our lecturers. The sharing with my colleagues is of high value to me too. I perceive the studies and their outcome as an organic and on-going development. The practical assignments are amazing and of great help to learn and shape.

What do you like the most about your studies/the study program in general?

The wide variety of content, the commitment and scholarship of our professors and the sharing with my insanely talented colleagues: Getting challenged, inspired and receiving support are part of my study-experience that I do appreciate greatly.

What’s your advice for (prospective) students who are thinking about studying Visual and Media Anthropology at HMKW?

What are you passionate for? What’s your intention/vision to study this program? The VMA offers a wide variety of content in a compact time-window. You can go as deep as you wish with this program, everything will be possible: I recommend to surf the wave as it comes, it will throw you around at times and become a profound adventure. Don’t forget to have fun with it, it’s a journey one of a kind, so enjoy the ride!

 

 

What are your plans for the future?

I am intending to acquire land in the jungle, firstly for reasons of conservation, and secondly with a vision for creating a communal place for cultural exchange between indigenous representatives and visitors – under the umbrella of sustainability. Beyond this specific project, exploring as much of the jungles as possible, of course!

Proceeding with a PhD is a possibility I consider. Generally, I’d like to continue to raise awareness around environmental and indigenous matters, which I perceive as intertwined: Through art, activism, collaborative projects, community-building, exhibitions, filmmaking, lectures, research – whatever might serve the purpose.

Thank you very much for sharing your study experiences with us. We wish you all the best for your future!