An open conversation on the revindication
of ethnic diversity through design
An open conversation with Beth Realpe, Allpa Maigua and Sara Fuentes.
On July 12, a discussion was held to address issues related to ethnodiversity in the areas of design, modeling, photography and public policies that exist as a defense against the misuse of ancestral designs. The panelists gave their different points of view and talked about their experiences around the matter. In this way, a moment was held in which all those present raised awareness about issues that have not had full visibility.
The main intention was to familiarize ourselves with the term “ethnodiversity” and its importance, for which each speaker stated that multiculturalism has remained in letters, that is, without taking action. Due to the lack of knowledge, the great variety of cultures is not valued and we run the risk of hurting our own brothers belonging to these minorities. Yes, brothers, because the indigenous worldview perceives humanity as a brotherhood without distinction of race, class and gender. The call is to be interested in its present as well as its symbolic elements and its history. Diversity should not be viewed as trivial, the ideal is to allow us to know and protect that cultural wealth and ancestry. According to Sara Fuentes, “we must be actors of change.” This consists of breaking those patterns that colonization has left over time. One of the ways is by sharing responsibly, that is, pondering their knowledge without changing the differential elements of each ethnic group. In addition, it was announced how the heritage of certain ethnic groups has been violated, as was the case of the Otavaleña culture by the Spanish brand, Loewe. This brand used Ecuadorian iconography in its 2018 summer collection without giving credit to its origin.
Next, they talked about the representation of cultures in advertising and modeling spaces, on which two of the speakers indicated that it is necessary to avoid exoticizing people belonging to an ethnic group, and to see beyond a simple tone of skin, hair and outfits. In the case of advertising, creatives and brands must propose strategies to become inclusive, beginning to show the reality of Ecuadorians, in other words, multiethnicity. One of the proposals, according to Allpa, is “to create and reform requirements for the peoples and nationalities in these spaces.” In this way, they break with the clichés that have been established and have led to cultural transgression.
On the other hand, in the case of photography, one of the best practices is to avoid perpetuating wrong stereotypes. Being creative, you have several responsibilities, including explaining the meaning of each element that makes up a work, avoiding misuse of folklore, since from the side of art many represent it only as an ornament or exotic show from other cultures. Rather, it is suggested to present it as something genuine and ancestral that has been maintained over time and is part of the contemporary.
There are several organizations that are working to establish public policies that preserve the heritage and wisdom of peoples and nationalities. In the region, the example was set by Mexico, which already has several laws that protect the elements of different cultures of that country. However, in Ecuador small initiatives are carried out to raise awareness of the incorrect use of symbolic elements through regulations with an organic code of knowledge, but clearly a control body does not yet exist.
Finally, the intention is to share information among all, working responsibly from our areas, always questioning ourselves: what I will say or do will affect the other? Through respect and awareness we will obtain that long-awaited equality. It not only consists of being in total discouragement by how the historical processes of colonization have occurred. We must be part of the change with actions that allow us to eradicate the oppression that still exists in our collective subconscious.
This summary was written by Beth Realpe, journalism student, Afro-descendant activist,
ex-model, and one of the panelists of this discussion.
Beth also wrote the article “As a creativ @, am I exoticizing a culture, or establishing a creative collaboration?”Léelo aquí.
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