Worlding a Mbya-Guarani heritage: from dissonant heritage to ontological conflicts

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The article analyses the ontological conflicts implicit but not addressed during the process that registered the ruins of the Jesuit-Guarani Mission in São Miguel (Brazil) as intangible cultural heritage: ‘Tava, Place of Reference for the Guarani People’. The process can be understood as an appropriation of the tools of modernity that provides an indigenous and dissonant narrative of the missions, counters discrimination and affirms the Mbya-Guarani when they negotiate with the state. However, the research also revealed that the conceptualisation of tava is based on a different ontology from modernity – on which the category of heritage is still based – that is related to the importance for the Mbya-Guarani of building good and beautiful bodies and social relations by wandering through the land left to them by the gods and following the precepts and signs of the latter. Instead of perpetuating the hierarchies between ontologies, the article brings to light the ontological conflicts with the objectives of overcoming the limitations of the policies of recognition and enhancing the perspective of heritage as a regime of care not only for objects, places and practices, but also for the people and worlds for whom these things are heritage.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1133-1148
Number of pages16
JournalInternational Journal of Heritage Studies
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2 Nov 2021


  • Mbya-Guarani
  • Indigenous heritage
  • Ontology
  • Brazil


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