This profile was prepared when Iván Sanjinés was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 1999.
The New Idea
Iván Sanjinés is creating a master plan for social communication among indigenous groups in Bolivia, based on his ability to negotiate a strategic alliance, as of 1997, among three separate confederations who together represent the country's thirty-five indigenous groups. His project will train indigenous communities how to use video equipment and make their own videos--for everything from news, documentation of environmental and human rights violations, to educational pieces about production, political organization and culture, to fictional pieces by and for indigenous communities. In addition to the network of indigenous video producers, he will also train community educators whose role is to distribute productions and lead discussion on follow-up, so that the product is more than a viewing experience.Iván is thinking broadly about the role of communications, of video as a tool to both to bring the federations together (the first time they have collaborated to this extent in Bolivia) and to explore what it means to be a federation and how to communicate with constituents. The use of modern technology itself is an act of integration with the modern world, but the process Iván is leading allows indigenous video producers to raise questions about how that integration should proceed, about community identity, and about what they are trying to communicate.The alliance of the confederations provides a high level of indigenous participation and extensive distribution potential. Iván provides a bridge between the indigenous groups and technical assistance within an institutional framework of video professionals. The project will exploit links to both national and international mass media so that indigenous video material can form part of a broader consciousness-raising and anti-discrimination agenda. Iván will launch similar initiatives in other countries--utilizing existing links to Guatemala, Mexico, Ecuador, and Chile.