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Interactive documentary tells of Peru’s dark secret

Image for the Quipu project

Press release issued: 17 March 2014

In the 1990s, more than 300,000 Peruvian women and 20,000 men were sterilised without their consent. A unique ‘interactive documentary’ telling the victims’ stories will be launched on Wednesday [19 March].

The Quipu: Living Documentary website has linked old and new technologies to allow web users to listen to voices from Peru’s hard to reach communities.

The team worked with those in rural communities affected by the sterilisation campaign to develop a communication system that enables them to speak up and share their stories.

Inspired by the Quipu - an Inca communication system made of knotted threads - the project has created a string of oral histories, fusing web technology with the radio and mobile phone technology available in the Peruvian Andes, to enable people to record their personal testimonies, listen to the experiences of others in their community and region, and share their stories with the rest of the world.

It’s one of six innovative projects being premiered at the REACT Showcase: Future Documentary screening at Watershed in Bristol, where industry experts will join the public for a panel discussion about the ‘interactive documentary’ experience.

The Quipu project is a collaboration between University of Bristol researchers Dr Matthew Brown and Dr Karen Tucker and media company Chaka Studio, which received £50,000 funding as part of REACT Future Documentary Sandbox – an AHRC-funded initiative to encourage new forms of storytelling exploring the documentary format, arts and humanities research and digital technologies.

The Peruvian state has never taken responsibility for the forced sterilisation programme and the associated human rights violations it involved. Despite hopes that the legal case against ex-President Fujimori and the ministers responsible for programme would be re-opened in 2014, in January of this year the case was archived for the fifth time.

  • The Quipu project will be showcased at the Watershed, Bristol, on Wednesday 19 March as part of the REACT Showcase: Future Documentary, beginning at 4pm. Booking is required.

Further information


REACT is one of four Knowledge Exchange Hubs for the Creative Economy funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) to develop strategic partnerships with creative businesses and cultural organisations, to strengthen and diversify their collaborative research activities and increase the number of arts and humanities researchers actively engaged in research-based knowledge exchange.

REACT is a collaboration between the UWE Bristol (the University of the West of England), Watershed, (and iShed), and the Universities of Bath, Bristol, Cardiff and Exeter. It is a unique collaboration supporting innovative products and transformational services by bringing together companies and academics across South West and Wales.

It reaches across two dynamic UK regions, and uniquely across three cultural areas and two languages and creative economies. Together we aim to generate a transformation in arts-driven economic and social impact, by combining demand from the Creative Economy with Arts and Humanities research excellence.

About Chaka Studio

Chaka Studio develops documentary films and cross-media projects connecting cultural issues and new media technologies.

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