Finding a home for the Ritxoko

the politics of heritage and repatriation


  • Luciana Lang Universidade de Manchester



By tracing the biography of a collection of Ritxoko, the name given to ceramic dolls made by the Iny Karajá people in the interior of Brazil, this paper reflects on the potential ramifications of repatriation. Changes in the making of the Ritxoko are inseparable from a broader history of contact, the political-ecological entanglements surrounding the resources that enable that making, and the effects of its heritagisation process. The relations in thisnatural-cultural assemblage are embedded in a moral economy that produces heritage and commodity. The analysis argues for repatriation as a method in the endeavour to decolonise museums and re- signify heritage, including the natural heritage that enables
the making of the Ritxoko. Drawing on the learning of initiatives developed in collaboration with the Iny Karajá, the proposed repatriation could bring about more inclusive forms of curatorship
with Ritxoko makers as protagonists, a necessary effort to address colonial pasts more critically and rethink possible ecological futures.

Biografia do Autor

Luciana Lang, Universidade de Manchester

I am a potter turned anthropologist with an ongoing interest in socio-natural entanglements. By favouring a political-ecological framing, I investigate community use of resources and management of the commons, from mangroves to public parks. In the process, I explore people’s homespun strategies to cope with the socio-economic effects of life in capitalist ruins.

Acknowledgements: I am grateful to Chang Whan, Rosani Moreira Leitão, and Manuel Lima Filho for their generosity in sharing their valuable knowledge of the Ritxoko and of the Iny Karajá culture with me, and to Manuelina Maria Duarte Cândido for inviting me to write this reflection. As someone who has crafted with clay, I have deep admiration for the work made by the master Iny Karajá ceramicists and gratitude for the impact of their work on my senses. I have never met them but the Ritxoko has forged a deep connection between us. A heartfelt thanks to Toni, who first introduced me to the Ritxoko.


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2022-11-04 — Atualizado em 2023-01-24


Como Citar

LANG, L. Finding a home for the Ritxoko: the politics of heritage and repatriation. Hawò, Goiânia, v. 3, p. 1–36, 2023. DOI: 10.5216/hawo.v3.72391. Disponível em: Acesso em: 27 mar. 2023.



Dossiê "Ritxoko é ouro!"