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History Tellers: The Griots Keeping Popular Narratives Alive.


Throughout his works, Walter Benjamin enables us to better understand the contemporary human experience. More specifically, he focuses on the narrative as experience, or rather the fight against the weakening of the narrative by the activities implemented within the limits of industrial capitalism. Through this author's works, we can consider the art of narration, as a link between the past, present, and future, to be extinguished, delimiting the contours of what we consider to be static, or non-living discourse.

Walter Benjamin (1984) (1) allows us to attest that telling a story is always going to be a new and different experience. We are led to believe that there is an eminent threat of the loss of the stories that accompanied manual labor, such as weaving or the agricultural task of harvesting. Stories not only accompanied this type of work, but also imprinted upon it, through an articulate and intimate rhythm, the capacity for continuity and resistance of the narrators and their narratives.

This element of continuity is being undone by capitalist modernity. In reality, much is written and has been written about narratives, principally those based on orality. Despite this, they do not receive much recognition in Brazil, and are not valued as much as a guaranteed means of the safekeeping of memory as their written counterparts.

In Brazil, the implementation of the UNESCO accord (of which Brazil was a signatory), the constitutional prevision of cultural rights, (2) and the implementation of public policies related to the recognition and valorization of Brazilian cultural patrimony (the institute of the registry of Immaterial Brazilian Cultural Goods e the National Plan of Culture (3)) allow, and promise to promote even more, the safekeeping of immaterial patrimony in the country. The Institute of Historical Patrimony and National Artistry (IPHAN), an organization connected to the Brazilian Ministry of Culture (MinC), is the institution responsible for, among other things, the inventorying, registry, and elaboration of plans to guarantee and protect immaterial cultural patrimony in the country. (4)

The richness of Brazilian ethno-cultural composition weighs heavily in this equation, the innumerous and singular territories are places where people and their stories are born and developed as expressions of popular knowledge and resistance through memory. Despite this, the protection and valorization of these narratives is still not sufficiently supported by the necessary public policies. Brazil possesses a rich cultural and ethnic composition, which extends from the big cities to small populations living in the country. One can easily imagine the infinite multitude of "knowers," masters, storytellers, traditional and popular expressions and savvy, which are neither under the protection of legal entities, nor supported by public policies which deal with valorization, recognition, and the bettering of quality of life. However, these subjects exist--hey are in cities, neighborhoods, communities. (5)

The Nucleus of Arts, Languages, and Subjectivities (NALS) works with various activities which promote academic knowledge and cultural actions in Pelotas, RS. One of these projects is developed by Dona Sirley, a griot who tells stories about her African ancestors, and how these stories have survived for centuries in Brazil.

The "Programa Fronteiras da Diversidade" (Frontiers of Diversity Program) (6) joins four separate projects which, as a unit, share themes about diversity and tolerance, coming together to form a central project, originally called "Storytellers," connected to the Nucleus of Arts, Languages, and Subjectivities (NALS), of the Faculdade de Educacao (College of Education) (FAE) from the Universidade Federal de Pelotas (Federal University of Pelotas-UFPEL). The aim of this project is to rescue the cultural identity of peripheral groups through debates, events, shows, and workshops, using the arts and culture as the field of work. These activities are part of what one can call "Marginal Esthetics" or even "Peripheral Esthetics," promoting visibility and the emancipating exercise of expressing citizenship through art and culture. (7) Aligned with the project "Storytellers," the research group "Daily Narratives: Identity, Representation, and Culture" looks to establish dialogue between different forms of knowledge, those produced by university education and those that are seen as popular, expanding perspectives about identity and considering diversity to be a structural and discursive element. (8) These projects seek to produce practical and theoretical innovations through the meeting of different territories, from the prospective of the construction of alliances that hope to think of the university and society as spaces for discussion and possible transformations. (9)

A third project, called "Diversidade e Tolerancia" (Diversity and Tolerance), intends to be a space for the development of works linked to ethnicity, peoples without land, women, and popular practices, such as the curandeiros (healers). The research group "Intolerancia: Historia e Sensibilidades" (Intolerance: History and Sensitivities) began in relation to studies about the Holocaust and the Second World War. This group promotes discussions and actions that can be used to combat all forms of intolerance in contemporary times. (10) These projects are connected with actions and projects of the Historical Documentation Group (NDH), from the Human Sciences Institute (ICH), at UFPEL.

The relationship between these four projects is consolidated in the formation of "cultural agents" through educational activities. From this perspective, the objective is to create a network through the formation of social and cultural dialogues, changes, exchanges, and other educational activities, all of which are permeated with the principle of the indivisibility of teaching, research, and extra curricular activities at the university level. (11)

The primary intention of these projects was to construct a space in which the spectator was also a narrator, a storyteller, and at the same time he/she was the work, or the story, as far as action and creative intervention. In this conception of the project, one finds the conviction that memory can be seen as a place of encounter and of celebration of apparently irreconcilable aesthetics, which, through art, can direct malleable itineraries in accordance with the network established by the spectator/narrator in the dialogue with the work/ story and its multiplicity of meanings. In order to be able to better understand the proposal of these "narratives in networks," it is necessary to describe a little of the trajectory of the execution of the proposal, and, afterwards, the movement of the dynamic that is established. (12)

It was in this context that the meeting with Dona Sirley took place. Dona Sirley, a master griot from the city Pelotas/RS, in the south of Brazil, a 77 year old storyteller, speaks about her ancestry and the charqueadas (livestock ranches used to produce dried meat or jerky) in the city, as well as her own experiences with the local carnival, the scene from which the majority of her histories and memories emerge. A retired seamstress who lives on the periphery of the city, she is also a cultural activist. Dona Sirley, in addition to being a griot and a recognized figure of Pelotas' carnaval, participates in various groups that look to promote and valorize black culture, the elderly, and the importance of working with children.

In this way, the aim of this work is to describe griot Dona Sirley's activities with NALS, relating them to the proposals of Border Pedagogy and Ginga's Esthetic, which represent some of the presupposed theories NALS utilizes for the development of activities in the local community. Additionally, the origins of the term griot will be briefly discussed, as well as their functions, which have been determined by the Ministry of Culture of Brazil.

Storytellers: the Qriots and Living Memory

In their way, this type of storyteller maintains in his/her memory ancestral knowledge and skills, passed from generation to generation, from parents to children, grandparents to grandchildren, the old to the young. Before legal bodies and public policies, they existed and conserved, as defined by Hampate Ba in 1982, (13) in "living memory"! According to Hampate Ba, (14) in order to define what is called a griot in Africa, we must understand them as musicians, ambassadors, and courtesans; genealogists, historians, and poets. The griot practice has strong traditions in Western Africa, with special emphasis in the regions of Mali, Senegal, Gambia, and Guinea. (15)

The griot, from French terminology, or the dieli in Bambara, are public animators, storytellers, musicians, diplomats, genealogists, and poets. They travel within their communities, the region, to other countries, singing and telling their stories, in search of information for their genealogies, or in the name of a diplomatic mission. Hampate Ba (16) divides them into three categories: the musicians, the ambassadors, and the genealogists, historians, or po ets. Tradition endows them with a status which is different from the traditionalists, as these usually hold respect for the truth as a primary value. The griot, however, has the right to express him/herself without obligation or attention to the "truthfulness" of his/her stories, being able to embellish them or even lie, which no listener will criticize them. (17)

There also exists the royal griot (dieli-faama), who, much like the traditionalists, can also be learned people to whom high moral value is conferred. (18) If, on one side, this limits the establishment of continuity between the historical African griot and the Brazilian griot, on the other it permits the establishment of a relationship between both, in which it is possible to perceive a certain similarity between Dona Sirley and the "white-haired elders" and "slightly obscure memory" described by Ki-Zerbo, (19) or even with the storytellers themselves, who patiently transmitted their knowledge "from mouth to ear, from master to disciple, throughout the centuries," as said by Hampate Ba. (20)

Dona Sirley received the title griot through the Acao Crio Nacional (National Criot Project), one of the factions of Programa Cultura Viva (Living Culture Program), developed by the Ministry of Culture of Brazil. In this sense, much of this history can already be learned from the valiant contributions of archeology. Ki-Zerbo (21) considers that together with written testimony and archaeological information, oral history has become an important source of African history. According to the author, oral history is told and preserved by the griots: "white-haired elders, tired voice and slightly obscure memory, sometimes labeled as stubborn and meticulous". (22) Taking into consideration the way in which they keep within themselves a large part of the knowledge and traditions of their African roots, every time one of these guardians of popular knowledge dies, it is as if a fiber in "Ariadne's thread" has broken. From this perspective, the epic histories, the genealogies, the wars, the traditions, the quotidian, told and sung by the griots are the expression of the culture and identity of these peoples. (23)

In the meanwhile, from an academic point of view, one must "sift through" all of these stories, in order to better understand what can and cannot be recognized as the history of Africa. Chronological contextualization is seen as one of the primary problems with these stories, in addition to the question of the ambiguity of words in themselves, as words possess this characteristic of double meaning, or even the "half words," which posses implicit meaning. (24) And it is exactly there that one finds, paradoxically, the beauty of oral history. This problem, or rather, this peculiarity of the spoken word, sometimes even difficult to translate into other languages, then loses a multitude of meanings and symbolisms upon being decontextualized and removed from its natural environment. (25)

Storytellers: Peripheral Aesthetics

Through these "peripheral aesthetics," the focus shifts to new cultural means and productions, which are developed in the urban peripheries where the social subjects install themselves as loud-speakers of another discourse, able to be accepted as peripheral only in relation to geographic location with the hegemonic centers of power-knowledge. From this perspective, silence cannot be represented, it cannot be interpreted, but it is understandable. We are not interested in silence as a cover-up of the explanation, nor in silence as a mask, dispossessed of a comfortable meaning. Neither are we interested in the silenced because silence is not imprisonment, not confinement. (26)

Silence that can find a comfortable equivalent in words is not sufficient for us. We want to reach the echo of the word that inhabits, supports, and remains in dense sonority. We seek the unnamable--recognizable--the subjectivity that makes from a habitat of possible dreams an original limit. (27)

In order to include the proposal of a subjectivity that resides in a border, it is necessary to recognize that the foreign inhabits us, as suggested by Kristeva, (28) as the other part of our identity. Residing in a place that destroys our comfort makes us, in an unsettling way, recognize in the other, the foreign, something that is part of our very selves. The foreign starts where the consciousness of "my" difference begins, and ends when confronted with the fact that we are all foreigners in constant rebellion in regard to bonds and community.

We therefore propose the formation of subjectivity in the border that fights against the apparent lack of alternatives. As Schiller affirmed in On the Aesthetic Education of Man in a Series of Letters " (29) at the end of the eighteenth century, and which remains an essential reality, feeling is the most urgent necessity, the necessity that crosses time. According to this author, the intellect's path "needs to be opened by the heart". (30) A sensible education is not just a way of bettering knowledge, but also recognizing it as effective lifestyle. (31)

Storytellers: Orality

A network that becomes a web by the means in which it obeys the intentional and provocative meaning of destabilization of hegemonic cultural expressions. An ethnic-aesthetic meaning which is articulated by imbrication, by the crossing of the threads of one story which is also made by the fissures, by the margins by the edges, and since there is no other way, mixes images, languages and references, longing for a synthesis of imagery that renders ambivalence and contradiction, producing ruptures with the states of obviousness of stories that were being structured by the participation of others, the expression of traits of genuine popular culture. A web that is made by the attitude of a "permanent critique," where the experimentation and option for collective construction opens for an accomplice and active possibility. Storytelling is, therefore, plotting stories, exploring all the many faces that leads us to the operationalization of these senses (Bussoletti, 2008). (32)

Through the possibility of experimentation of art as plot, we hope for "exercises for behavior," as Helio Oiticica said, made operational through the participation and transmutation of the spectator as narrator whose authority is manifested through living as a manifestation of life in the direction of creative activity (Jacques, 2003). Between imagination and ecstasy, the proposal is to "southernize" behaviors, deterritorializing repressed and/or occult possibilities, and conceding an educational space in the direction of transgression and resistance of alternative practices, which don't submit to the historical and political conceptions based on the tradition maintained by the cult of regularities and consumable stabilities as products of a contestable order, and differentiate the aspiration which is joined to an old/new chorus, which telling stories says again: Try! "Our north is the south." And we are, through this call, setting the scene for the next chapters. (33)

The relationship between the written and spoken word has never been peaceful, with one always going against the current of the idiosyncrasies of the other. What we mean to say is that the discursive and expressive liberties of the spoken word don't exactly correspond to the same principle in written form, since the written word positions itself as permanent and definitive in some cases. (34) The oral has diverse goals, which is recognizable by the persuasive and more direct contact between speakers, being a text that can be re-elaborated in the very act of its production/reception. On the contrary, the written word, upon fitting itself into the durability of time and space, is destined for the canonic, being able to travel between various cultures with the authority of one who imposes itself as the factor in charge, of course from a hegemonic point of view. Because of this, written text better serves the classical concept of science as it is able to more cohesively organize a phrase, something that the oral word is not suited to because of its digressive and performative character, or, rather, oral narratives are especially valued when they are engaging, and for the complementariness of the body to the voice, or would it be of the voice to the body? (35) The political authority of each modality may be more of a determinant in the measure in which schools and other such institutions legalize the written word as "language" and reserve for oral speech the stigma of "wrongness," a practice that is not new. Writing seems to constitute something more rational than orality, and for this reason, it is more accepted by scientific discourse. One can, specifically in the case of oral history, consider that "it is a history constructed around people." (36)

In this sense, it is crucial to remember that omitting thought from speech requires a long process for traditional and impoverished populations, as the participation of the individual in the role of enunciator of his or her oral discourse presupposes overcoming the stages of creating, defending, arguing, and opining about a form of knowledge often put to the side by the hegemonic culture. (37) If on one hand the oral narratives of life histories are important for reinterpreting reality, it is no less true that we should "clean up" oral versions in order to better understand them. And clean up doesn't only mean putting the oral text in a straitjacket, which is still necessary in academia. It's certain that the need for transcription for its own sake, imposed by scientific tradition upon the study of oral narrative text, is merely a contradiction in terms of university epistemology giving more factuality to written text. The coherence of oral text is not the same as that of written. (38)

In the case of the spoken word, performance is what encompasses everything to give an expressive significance to the narration, or rather word and body are intertwined in the story, whether it be the tone of voice or in the act of gesture or countenance. It is in this way that what most closely resembles the oral and the written is the dramatic genre, theatrical script, because the difference between the narrator and the playwright is in meaning: as one writes to create a scene, that very scene is what will be written by the re searcher. Here, maybe, resides the richness of the oral narrative, as it is written with two hands, our rather, between the voice and hand, in two modalities. (39)

Our projects, Proposals, and Actions

The activities developed by NALS follow certain theoretical precepts, within which we can emphasize and interrelate the projects developed by the griot Dona Sirley. We will briefly present some aspects of this, focusing on our educational proposals. The interculturality present in society enriches our studies when it encompasses education. Educators must understand the different subjects, with multiple, plural, and different identities. These identities are changing, because these subjects are constituted of different groups: ethnic, age, sexuality, etc.... (40)

Some educational practices have, in their very nature, fragmentation, equally present in the systematization of concepts/contents, as in the physical spaces constructed, which are cultural, and therefore related to identity, indicating what when think and what we desire. Measuring knowledge means understanding the human being, implicating ethics, aesthetics, sensory knowledge, life, and everything that creates meaning and generates changes in the production of meaning. (41) For which purpose, we need to realize the importance of teaching practices, taking into account a sensible approach in the role of educator. On this theme, Duarte Jr. said: "really, a sensible education can only be developed by educators whose sensibilities were developed." (42)

Traditionally, until the present, schooling was focused on educational and teaching practices directed at linear thinking, discipline, and consequently, fragmentation. Education through sensory means is sometimes considered to be less important. (43) In this sense, would it therefore be possible for teaching and learning, from the perspective of reason, to be separated from sensibility in the 21st century?

The education of the senses is a way to avoid the growth of the unilateral worldview that modern humans have, due to the impact of technology, allowing for the integration of one with oneself, and with a multicultural society. Sensory education implies a process of seeing the world and ones relationships from both a rational and emotional perspective. (44) When we think about the pedagogic practices that dialogue with the aesthetics of the sensory, we observe that the very meaning of education aggregates change, when schools cease to perform the role of merely transmitting knowledge, and dedicate themselves to the formation of individuals capable of articulating these issues from experience and with attitudes that are compatible with life in society. (45)

Subjective signals in communication also occur via emotions--the expression of a look, bodily movement, vocal tonality, and other signals also communicate the unspeakable. In this way, reason is related to the sensory, as both develop learning processes. Emotional learning is fundamental to understanding, knowledge, and communication. In other words, teachers must develop their emotional processes in order to understand themselves, as well as their students. (46) In relation to these arguments, we can cite what the Brazilian Curricular Standards describe:
   The knowledge of art opens perspectives for the student to have an
   understanding of the world in which a poetic dimension is present:
   art teaches that our experiences create a movement of permanent
   transformation necessary for always reevaluating references, being
   flexible. This means that creation and knowledge are inseparable
   and that flexibility is fundamental for the learned. (47)

The processes of creation and realization correspond to a path of personal development. Storytellers, such as the griot, can grow throughout their lives, reaching larger and more complex levels, which exist latent in their potential. This process is not stationary. It is dialogic once inserted into a cultural context. This relationship permits these people to rethink and act in the face of new situations that are generally unexpected and unseen. (48) Also in relation to this aspect, we would like to emphasize what Buoro refers to when she compares the arts and sensory production:
   If art is sensory production, if it is about the relation of the
   sensory with the human existence and experience, capable of
   generating knowledge of a different nature than that which science
   proposes, it is in the valuation of these sensibilities in an
   attempt to develop them in the world and for the world to return
   them, that we undeniably contribute to an educational project, in
   which education acts as the crucial role, and not just an adjunct
   participant. (49)

A pedagogy that focuses its obligation on the re-establishment of pedagogical formation, while maintaining space for questions, more than for conceptual and fixed answers, supporting the radical experience of diversity and differentness, approaching and diluting the lines that sometime separate and, unfortunately, create uncrossable boundaries, this is what we accept as Border Pedagogy. (50) Obviously, the basis of these concepts comes from the dialogues about the concept of Border Pedagogy proposed by Giroux (51) and the Border Identity referenced by McLaren (1999). (52)

The understanding of this process contributes to and ultimately reveals emerging aesthetics derived from the mixtures and settings within which interculturality works, and configures what we defend as " Estetica da Ginga" (Cinga's Esthetic). (53) The Cinga's Esthetic derives from the conceptual work of Helio Oiticica (1939-1980), a revolutionary Brazilian artist who, because of his experimental and innovative work, has been internationally recognized. Oiticica did not accept fixed definitions and conceptions. For this reason, he questioned and extrapolated his "status" as an artist. Rolling concepts, Oiticica assumed that there had not become an artist, but someone who enabled people to emerge in this peculiar state of creative action, elaborating proposals that searched what is beyond the art to which he called "intervention." (54)

In order to understand Oiticica's proposal, we need to refer to the concept of "anti-art". The principle of "anti-art" is not the imposition of ideas and finalized structures upon the spectator, but the search to decentralize the arts, moving them from the intellectual and rational fields, to those of creativity, experimentation, discovery, and participation, something that turns into other sequences of signification. (55)
   Anti-art--comprehension and reason of the being of the artist, no
   longer as a creator to be contemplated, but as a motivator of
   creation--creation being completed by the dynamic participation of
   the spectator, now considered the participant. Anti-art would be a
   completion of the collective need for a latent creative activity,
   which would be motivated in a determined way by the artist:
   rendering invalid metaphysical, intellectual, and aesthetic
   positions [...] It is a creative realization of what the artist
   proposes, a realization exempt from moral, intellectual, or
   aesthetic premises--Anti-art is exempt from this--, it is a simple
   positioning of man within himself and his vital creative
   possibilities. The "not find" is also an important participation.

Oiticica definitively breaks with the idea of a passive spectator, a mere onlooker, and turns him/her, through his art, into a trigger for experiences. Turning the spectator into a "participant," the subject that dances in space ad crosses time, giving plasticity to the work, can also in this way be recognized as a collective experience. Participant and work therefore become inseparable, products and producers of another aesthetic premise. (57)

Taking this into consideration, we, the members of NALS, defend the possibility of artistic experimentation through education as a web that is realized between borders. We want "exercises for a behavior," as stated by Oiticica, operationalized through the participation and transmutation of the spectator as narrator, whose authority is manifested through experience, as a manifestation of life in the direction of creative activity. Between imagination and ecstasy, this proposal deterritorializes suppressed and/or hidden behaviors and possibilities, enabling the educational space in the sense of transgression and resistance through alternative practices, which do not submit to the concepts acquired through the historical and political tradition maintained by the cult of regular consumable stabilities as products of a contestable form. (58)

We also consider it necessary to say that our proposal, working with the PFD and NALS, proceeds precisely in this direction, deterritorializing behaviors and norms, transgressing imposed borders, exposing them as merely material for discussion, reflection, and debate among all the elements and agents of which they are made, within their singularities, extrapolating their self-perception and proposing other alternatives of alterity, where respect emerges as a result of the educational process. (59) Thus, we believe that our practices with the PFD and NALS create opportunities for the appreciation of the peculiarities that make up social subjects and their differences, moving them into the complete exercise of otherness, making possible, for them and for us, the understanding of many boundaries which can be crossed through the means of knowledge. By proposing the concept of diversity in a broader manner, we perceive that the subjects also end up pushing the boundaries of identity, which, in the game of re-cognition, constitutes them as individuals and as a group. (60)

Having said this, none of this would be possible in our work if the means of dialogue and experimentation weren't the arts, including here the storytelling activities developed by griot Dona Sirley. This means that the arts are the grounds that enable the deterritorialization of norms and socially constructed dogmas. In our activities, the arts were essential in stimulating reflection about the importance of valuing diversity as a factor in social development. Consolidating a model of subjectivity that persists and resists in the boundaries seems appropriate to us.

Problematizing this new aesthetic arising from emerging and mixed scenes, where interculturalism is made possible, means that we still have much to do. This is because living on the border implies, above all, the recognition that we are not the margin of a center, but in the center of another story. (61) Still, in a multicultural society, other aspects must be elucidated, such as those that Pansini and Neneve (2008) understand in relation to the educational context of historically formed multiculturalism:
   [...] Multicultural education proposes a break from the
   pre-established models and occult practices that, within the
   scholastic curriculum, produce and effect of colonization in which
   students from diverse cultures, social classes, and ethnic groups
   occupy the place of the colonized and marginalized by a process of
   silencing of their conditions. (62)

Agreeing with these aspects, we believe that the necessary possibility for the changing of paradigms, in the direction of innovative educational proposals, passes through the recuperation of the ethical dimension of allying the educational with another aesthetic, which uses human existence as its origin. Such a direction questions and confronts the sociopolitical and economic relations of silencing, and rebels against the defilements which result from these relations which conduct that which Boaventura dos Santos (2001) names as "epistemicide":
   In addition to the unspeakable suffering and devastation that it
   produces in the people, in the groups and social practices that
   were bleached by it (epistemicide), it meant an irreversible
   impoverishment of the horizon and the possibilities of knowledge.
   If today there exists a feeling of being trapped by the absence of
   global alternatives to the way in which society is organized, it is
   because for centuries, above all after modernity was reduced to
   capitalist modernity, there took place a systematic liquidation of
   the alternatives, when they, equally in the epistemological sense,
   as well as the practical sense, were not compatible with hegemonic
   practices. (63)

We understand that, in order for there to be a break with the models of production of imposed "silencings," it is necessary to focus on the search for voices and concepts that have been silenced, diving into the identification of their differences and the problematics of their trials and tribulations, with the intention that these possible distances don't further alienate the alterities. If we were to do so, we would be minimizing the difficulties in establishing efficient pedagogical proposals, capable of generating identification and signification in the most varied social groups.

Paola Jacques, (64) researching the work done by Oiticica, has argued that this artist created a proposal of the "Estetica da Ginga" (Ginga's Aesthetic), a genuinely Brazilian product, where racial mixing and information blend nuances and cultures, creating a panorama that carries over into the illustration of the fun of the enjoyment of Carnaval. In agreement with this precept, the mixture and interlocution of different aspects generates a new information that, through the passing and movement, like the cadence of a samba, allows the changes and exchanges to take place and remain active and constant in a social context. (65) In the meanwhile, merely this aspect of the Ginga's Esthetic propitiates the individual by the achievement of a state where pleasure, joy, fun, and happiness are generated by the acceptance and perception that differences exist, but they also must be open to the possibility of movement and change between themselves, generating a new color, which enriches characteristics and social relations as part of a state of respect and appreciation for all the spectrum of hues which make up the identity of this population. (66)

Final Considerations

The work of storytelling developed by griot Dona Sirley represents more than just keeping alive a part of Brazilian history that was devastated during the process of European colonization. This work maintains customs, cultures, mythologies, habits, religiosities, and traditions that were brought from Africa with people who were enslaved and forced to come to Brazil by the European colonizers. The orality exercised by the griots worked as a fundamental strategy in the maintenance of these histories from generation to generation, in a place where history books written by the colonizers didn't permit them, something that could have resulted in the loss of those stories, habits, and cultural characteristics.

Additionally, the activities developed by griot Dona Sirley coincide with the proposals of our work from within the perspective of the Ginga's Esthetic and Border Pedagogy. By telling stories and facilitating her workshops, Dona Sirley puts into practice these concepts, promoting perceptions and significations about concepts of difference, diversity, and cultural heritage as positive characteristics which make up our society, and through this, the recognition that all of these varying shades create the identity of our local population.

Furthermore, Dona Sirley transgresses any boundaries through the means of her storytelling activities, developing an educational approach that crosses boundaries, norms, and comportments imposed by social normalizations, dealing with these aspects not as a "division or delimiting line," but as characteristics that need to be erased. Dona Sirley does this! The way in which she maintains her living ancestry promotes another vision of this educational process, not as an institutionally fixed formal academic determination, but as a sensitive, common, and cultural way of maintaining these unforgettable traditions.

Therefore, we would like to stress that our work with NALS and all the other interrelated projects are only able to remain active because we search for other alternatives in order to promote education from another perspective, seeking approaches differentiated from those traditionally developed in academia is diverse Brazilian localities. In this sense, the field of the arts allowed us to realize all of these activities. In addition to this, it is also necessary to re-emphasize that NALS also works as a center of resistance by opening the space that a griot needs to preserve an important part of our history in Brazil.

Denise Marcos Bussoletti

Federal University of Pelotas (UFPEL)

Vagner de Souza Vargas

Federal University of Pelotas (UFPEL)

(1) Walter Benjamin, Origem do Drama Barroco Alemao (Sao Paulo: Brasiliense, 1984).

(2) Brasil. Constituicao (1988,), Constituicao da Republica Federativa do Brasil, Texto consolidado ate a Emenda Constitucional no. 68 de 21 de dezembro de 2011 (Brasilia, DF: Senado Federal, 2011), Art. 215-216.

(3) The National Plan of Culture was approved by the Federal Law no. 12.343, December, 2010, with its goals defined in December, 2011. There are 53 goals to be implemented until 2020 (Brasil, Lei no 12.343, de 2 de dezembro de 2010 (institui o Plano Nacional de Cultura --PNC), Diario Oficial [da] Republica Federativa do Brasil (Poder Executivo, Brasilia, DF, 3 dez. 2010), Secao 1, p. 1-9.; Ministerio da Cultura (MINC), Portaria n[degrees] 123, de 13 de dezembro de 2011 (estabelece as metas do Plano Nacional de Cultura--PNC), Diario Oficial [da] Republica Federativa do Brasil (Poder Executivo, Brasilia, DF, 14 dez. 2011), Secao 1, p. 12-20).

(4) Cristiano Guedes Pinheiro, "Narrativas de educacao e resistencia: a pratica popular grio de Dona Sirley," Dissertacao de Mestrado, Programa de Pos-Graduacao em Educacao. Universidade Federal de Pelotas (UFPEL), Mestrado em Educacao, Pelotas / RS, 2013.

(5) Pinheiro, "Narrativas de educacao e resistencia."

(6) The "Frontiers of Diversity Program" was classified and approved with no. 4 by the University Extension Program, PROEXT, 2011--Ministry of Education and Culture, Secretary for High Education, from Brazilian Government. Develops its activities since 2011 at Universidade Federal de Pelotas (Federal University of Pelotas--UFPEL).

(7) Denise Marcos Bussoletti and Vagner de Souza Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga: Boundary for the Future in the In-between Places of Diversity," Global Journal of Human Social Science, Arts & Humanities 13 (4) (2013), 1-9.

(8) Denise Marcos Bussoletti, Narrattivas Populares (Brasil: Conselho Nacional de Pesquisa. 2008).

(9) Bussoletti, Narrattivas Populares; Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(10) Bussoletti, Narrattivas Populares.

(11) Bussoletti, Narrattivas Populares; Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(12) Cristiano Guedes Pinheiro, Denise Marcos Bussoletti, and L. Gill,

"Fronteiras da Cultura e da Oralidade--Forum Internacional de Contadores de Historias e Foro Latinoamericano Memoria e Identidad," Revista teias (UERJ., online), 11 (2010): 1-10; Cristiano Guedes Pinheiro, Denise Marcos Bussoletti, and C. Costa, "Programa Fronteiras da Diversidade: universidade, comunidade na construcao de praticas sociais e culturais para a diversidade," Expressa Extensao (UFPel) 2 (2011): 79-102; L. Haerter, Denise Marcos Bussoletti, Cristiano Guedes Pinheiro, and C. Costa, "O NALS no Foro Latino-americano Memoria e Identidade: respuestas nuevas a desafios bicentenarios," Expressa Extensao (UFPel) 2 (2011): 35-60.

(13) Amadou Hampate BA, "A Tradicao viva," in Joseph Ki-Zerbo, ed., Historia geral da Africa, (Sao Paulo: Atica/UNESCO, 1982), 1, Metodologia e pre-historia da Africa, 181-218.

(14) Amadou HampAte BA, "A Tradicao viva," 193.

(15) Pinheiro, "Narrativas de educacao e resistencia."

(16) Hampate Ba, "A Tradicao viva", 202.

(17) Pinheiro, "Narrativas de educacao e resistencia."

(18) Hampate Ba, "A Tradicao viva"; Pinheiro, "Narrativas de educacao e resistencia."

(19) Joseph Ki-Zerbo, "Introducao geral," in Joseph Ki-Zerbo, ed., Historia geral da Africa, (Sao Paulo: Atica/UNESCO, 1982), I, Metodologia e pre-historia da Africa,, 27.

(20) Hampate Ba, "A Tradicao viva" (1982), 181.

(21) Ki-Zerbo, "Introducao geral."

(22) Ki-Zerbo, "Introducao geral," 27.

(23) Pinheiro, "Narrativas de educacao e resistencia."

(24) Ki-Zerbo, "Introducao geral," 26-27.

(25) Pinheiro, "Narrativas de educacao e resistencia."

(26) Bussoletti, Narrattivas Populares; Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(27) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(28) Julia Kristeva. Estrangeiros Para Nos Mesmos (Rio de Janeiro: Rocco, 1994).

(29) Friedrich Schiller, A Educacao Estetica do Homem (Sao Paulo: Iluminuras, 1990).

(30) Schiller, A Educacao Estetica do Homem, 51.

(31) Schiller, A Educacao Estetica do Homem.

(32) Bussoletti, Narrattivas Populares.

(33) Denise Marcos Bussoletti and Cristiano Guedes Pinheiro, "Fronteiras da Diversidade: entre-lugares e desafios," Revista Querubim 1 (2011): 44-50.

(34) Jose Gulherme dos Santos Fernandes, "Do oral ao escrito: Implicacoes e complicacoes na transcricao de narrativas orais," Outros Tempos 2 (2008): 156-166.

(35) Fernandes, "Do oral ao escrito."

(36) Fernandes, "Do oral ao escrito."

(37) Fernandes, "Do oral ao escrito."

(38) Fernandes, "Do oral ao escrito."

(39) Fernandes, "Do oral ao escrito."

(40) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(41) Gildati Guedes Silva, "A estetica da sensibilidade como principio curricular: Modernidade, estetica e educacao sob uma perspectiva dialetica," Dissertacao de Mestrado, Programa de pos-graduacao em Educacao. Universidade Federal de Rondonia, 2012.

(42) J. F. Duarte Jr., O sentido dos sentidos: a educacao (do) sensivel (Curitiba: Crias, 2001), 206.

(43) Sivia Sell Duarte Pillotto, "Educacao pelo sensivel," Linguagens--Revista de Letras, Artes e Comunicacao (Blimenau) I (2) (2007): 113-127.

(44) Pillotto, "Educacao pelo sensivel."

(45) Silva, "A estetica da sensibilidade como principio curricular."

(46) Silva, "A estetica da sensibilidade como principio curricular."

(47) Brasil, Secretaria de Educacao Fundamental, Parametros Curriculares Nacionais 5a a 8a series: arte (Brasilia: MEC-SEF, 1998), 20.

(48) Pillotto, "Educacao pelo sensivel."

(49) Anamelia Bueno Buoro, Olhos que pintam: a leitura da imagem e o ensino da arte (Sao Paulo: Cortez, 2002), 41.

(50) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(51) Henry Giroux, Border crossing (New York & London: Routledge, 1992).

(52) Peter McLaren, Multiculturalismo critico (Sao Paulo: Cortez, 1999/2000).

(53) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(54) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(55) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(56) Oiticica, in Paola Jacques, Estetica da Qinga: a arquitetura das favelas atraves da obra de Helio Oiticica (Rio de Janeiro: Casa da Palavra, 2003), 110.

(57) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(58) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(59) Denise Marcos Bussoletti and Vagner Vargas, Leituras em Dramaturgia Teatral para a Diversidade (Pelotas: Universitaria UFPEL, 2012).

(60) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(61) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(62) F. Pansini and M. Neneve, "Educacao multicultural e formacao docente," Curriculo Sem Fronteiras 8 (1) (2008), 32.

(63) Boaventura dos Santos, Pela Mao de Alice; o social e o politico na pos-modernidade, 8a ed. (Sao Paulo: Cortez, 2001), 329.

(64) Jacques, Estetica da Ginga.

(65) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."

(66) Bussoletti and Vargas, "Art and Aesthetics of ginga."
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Author:Bussoletti, Denise Marcos; Vargas, Vagner de Souza
Publication:Portuguese Studies Review
Date:Jul 1, 2014
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