Tying Quipu's Key Knots

Lead Research Organisation: University of Bristol
Department Name: School of Modern Languages


This project takes the successes of the AHRC-funded Quipu Project and shares them with the local participants and organizations that catalysed the project and provided its driving force. Technological limitations have meant that this has not been possible, as we hoped it might have been, under our present system.

The launch of the Quipu Project in December 2015 was primarily aimed at influencing political debate in Peru in the run-up to the 2016 presidential elections. It formed part of a movement which sought to make the issue of the sterilizations a political issue, and thereby to gain justice and reparations for the people who were sterilized without their concept. The impact thus far has been considerable but felt primarily on the international and national scales, whereas the project now seeks to draw that resonance back to the regional / local levels. We are conscious of practical, ethical and scholarly imperatives to take that impact back to where it all began, to the protagonists of the Quipu story.

This project will focus on producing materials from the Quipu archive which can be used by the local organizations who provided us with our first contacts. These are the Group of Sterilized People of Independencia in Ayacucho; AMAEF-C-GTL in Cuzco, and Convenio IAMAMC-AMHBA in Huancabamba, Piura. The project will take those materials to them, organize workshops to provide skills to local leaders and participants, and empower them to act fully as agents within the research and its dissemination rather than simple objects of study.

As part of these local workshops we will record, and then transcribe, translate and publish, the participants' responses to Quipu's global reach, in order to add an extra layer of interactivity to the Quipu archive, and to problematize simplistic accounts of research impact on the global scale.

This project will therefore work to bring into dialogue the responses of local 'recipients' of impact, with broader global narratives about what 'impact' could and should be.

We will have completed the Quipu circle if we can bring our global successes back to our original participants - (1) Listening to the roots - and use our encounters in order to (2) Further Elevate Public Discourse in Peru and worldwide about the impact of this (and other) forced sterilization programmes. These outcomes will allow us to produce a video guide for projects like this, which will enable us to (3) Improve Social Innovation by carrying our learning out from the Andes and onto potential social innovation collaborators in the UK, in Peru and globally.

In 2015-2016 the Quipu team (Brown, Tucker, Court, Lerner, Sebastian Melo and Cass-Kavanagh) have given invited talks and demonstrations of Quipu at venues including many UK universities and in Switzerland, the Netherlands, Colombia, Peru and Chile. In the next twelve months we already have many invitations pending, and this stream of recognition has convinced us of the need to produce a video guide for researchers, creative practitioners and community practitioners interested in adopting similar methodologies for divergent projects. The events in Lima and Bristol would take a question and answer format, and would shape and inform the video guide. Lerner and Court will be present to film the events, and to produce the video guide which will be placed on the Quipu Project website with links from the AHRC website. This will use Quipu as a case study for how three-way collaborative learning processes can be designed and managed. It will be useful for community practitioners and NGOs looking to achieve social change through the fusion of storytelling, technology and research. This guide will prove a lasting legacy of Quipu so that the lessons we have learned in the Andes, in Lima and in Bristol can be applied elsewhere by collaborative partnerships with similar aims and objectives.

Planned Impact

A wide spectrum of groups will benefit from this project that was born from a creative collaboration between researchers, documentary makers and local community groups.

Storytelling is a core part of the creative economy and the unique collaboration between academics, creative practitioners and technology has provided the beginning of a potential paradigm shift where storytelling moves beyond broadening audiences' horizons to becoming a catalytic force for change in the world. Our collaboration will continue to inform, challenge and shift the storytelling practices for documentary makers who wish to understand how to have a greater impact through their work.

In Peru the focus of this impact upon the creative economy will be the Lugar de la Memoria (LUM), Peru's first national memory museum. Located in a purpose-built space in Miraflores in the capital, Lima, the LUM offers a space for dialogue and discussion about Peru's recent history, as well as permanent and temporary exhibitions. The LUM hosted a panel discussion about Quipu in March 2016, and will be giving space for a Quipu exhibition in September 2016. Its curator Dr Ponciano del Pino has agreed to hosting a launch event for the finalized website in 2017, which will attract key opinion-formers within Peruvian culture and politics.

Further to this impact on the creative economy, our local partner organizations and their supporters will have the opportunity to engage with the global and national dimensions of Quipu.

1. Group of Sterilized People, Independencia in Ayacucho, central Peru. This group is the least institutionalised of all those we have worked with. They are particularly in need of resources, support and capacity building as they seek to integrate themselves within the national context of the campaign for justice and reparations.

2. AMAEF-C-GTL, Cuzco, southern Peru. This group will benefit from the focus provided by the Quipu Project, and the opportunity to use it to attract further funding and local and regional support. It will also benefit from the opportunity to embed their national networking capacity.

3. Convenio IAMAMC-AMHBA in Huancabamba, Piura, northern Peru. This group was our first case study where we worked out the principles of the Quipu Project. It is particularly important that they receive useable resources from the project, in order to reaffirm the value of their participation and to help them to use the project to further establish themselves in the national and regional pictures.

At the national level, the project will benefit Peruvian NGOs working with victims of forced sterilization, who will benefit from the institutional strengthening of our local partners, and from the greater visibility provided in the regions by our radio advert and paper pamphlets. The Lima launch will therefore strengthen their attempts to embed national cooperation and promote reparation and justice for the victims through the formation of a National Association of Sterilized Women.

This project will particularly benefit the UK academic community interested in innovative ways to collaborate and generate impact from research coming out of the social sciences and humanities. This project will not only feed the responses of our local partners into academic debates about a new model of international impact beyond the more easily-evidenced political arena, but into the realms of technology, memory and the translational role that creative practitioners can have. The team's experiences in international co-production with marginalized groups, running a successful crowdfunding model, and the difficulties we have surmounted in dealing with in-country local groups and in working with creative technologists to develop innovative solutions have wide-reaching relevance.


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Title Quipu Calls for Justice 
Description A 25 minute film about the Quipu project, commissioned by and published by The Guardian 
Type Of Art Film/Video/Animation 
Year Produced 2017 
Impact Tens of thousands of people around the world have seen the film. It has been shown on Peruvian national television in January 2018. It has led to a spike in visits to the Quipu Project website. 
URL https://www.theguardian.com/world/ng-interactive/2017/feb/10/quipu-the-phone-line-calling-for-justic...
Description This award is ongoing (until June 2018) so these key findings remain provisional. We have one major output pending - a video guide reflecting on how to do co-produced digital research in the developing world. Similarly our collection of the evidence of the impact that the project has had is incomplete - we are in the middle of producing a brochure detailing the many impacts the project has had, and this will be made available through researchfish in the 2019 data collection. In brief, they key findings at this stage are: 1) Digital methods are only a partial way of ensuring impact within grassroots communities in this type of project. The personal connection, involving travel, talking and sharing time and space together, is essential. 2) Digital methods have taken our storytelling work to a global audience, through the website and through the Guardian film. We took the film physically to screen it in several locations around Peru - this was very successful. 3) We have, despite the above, been amazed at the way in which word of Quipu has passed around practitioner and academic communities as a model of ethical and innovative research in this area. We have been flattered by the way word of the project passes before us, and we are sure that it will lead to many similar projects building on its multidisciplinary, multimedia advances.
Exploitation Route The video guide (in production) will explain this. It will be published in June 2018, at the end of the grant, and made availble to the AHRC for use on their website.
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL http://www.twitter.com/quipuproject
Description The Quipu Project has formed part of, and been used by, a growing movement to raise consciousness of the forced sterilization campaign in 1990s Peru. In debates over fake news and historical truth, the audio testimonies archived and disseminated by Quipu have been referred to by Peruvian and international NGOs, through events and workshops and through social media. The documentary published by the Guardian has been seen by tens of thousands of people worldwide. In Peru we showed the film at dozens of community halls across the country, which has led directly to raised consciousness about the issue and the different levels of storytelling involved. Our ethos of co-production has also been taken on by other practitioners and academics. A full account of this impact narrative will be available in 2019, upon completion of the project. Up to now, however, there have been no successful prosecutions in this area.
First Year Of Impact 2015
Sector Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Healthcare,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Policy & public services

Description Global Challenges Research Fund Pump-Priming Call
Amount £50,000 (GBP)
Organisation University of Bristol 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 03/2018 
End 07/2018
Description Films around Peru 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Patients, carers and/or patient groups
Results and Impact Our film, Guardian Calls for Justice, was taken around Peru by an independent film-promoting NGO, and was shown in several community halls across the country. Photos can be seen on the Quipu Project twitter page @quipuproject. Full details of attendance numbers and feedback will be provided in the 2019 submission.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
Description Quipu Huancabamba workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Patients, carers and/or patient groups
Results and Impact In December 2017 we organized a 3 day workshop in Huancabamba, northern Peru. Participants were the victims of forced sterilization in Peru, who travelled from Pucallpa (in the Amazon), Cuzco and Ayacucho (in the mountains) and Lima (on the coast). Local participants from Huancabamba also attended. The first day was the first national meeting of the different local groups of sterilized women, and resulted in the crafting, writing and design of a letter to the President of the Republic. The second day involved discussion of the various impacts of Quipu on local groups and individuals. The third day was forward-looking, and involved training in giving testimony, media training, and the collective design and making of a contemporary Quipu, which was then donated for display in the Lugar de la Memoria in Lima, Peru. The event produced new networks and solidarity amongst the participants, a renewed focus for their campaigning activity drawing on the global reach of the testimonies shared in the Quipu project. There was much local newspaper and social media interest in Peru, resulting in invitations to speak, prizes, nominations and renewed calls for justice.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.quipu-project.com