Two | Return the Gaze

This venture aims to unravel,

through the mediums of analogue photography and documentary film,

the residues of cultural resistance amongst the Caicaras community on Ilhabela Island, Brazil.

What do the Afro-Brazilian roots of matriarchy present as in the Atlantic rainforest?

Emergent and adaptive truths for rethinking the Self, re-inventing the Other


Seeking to archive and express the mutable core

of an intuitive energy,

a gaze to return






We are descended from stars and gathering the scattered pieces of ourselves.


The question is do we feel worthy of self knowledge?

It is death to ego, a sacred suicide

It is a laying down of bones

from third eye cranium to jointed toes

we are not learning something new, we are remembering...








Ilhabela Island, Casa Na Ilha, Brazil


University of Cape Town, MPhil African Studies candidate 2017-2018


Project Realization Period:


 18 October – 3o November 2017.


Return the Gaze shall explore the following on Ilhabela island, Brazil, employing Sylvia Wynter’s re-enchantment of Humanism [1]   as a conceptual framework and expanding on Decolonial Daydreams | one | re encounter


§  Phase one: Recognize

§  Distinguishing the residues of cultural resistance in an ecological paradise

§  This visual archive through photographs will be documenting a creative-intellectual project of reimagining and re-imaging what it means to be human and thus rearticulating who / what we are.

§  a practice of re-thinking and unravelling dominant worldviews


Phase two: Extend

§  An act of rethinking the subject and object of the ethnographic film and communicating across cultures through the visual.

§  I as the African Anthropologist conducting ongoing research in the Western Province of Zambia (Matakala, 2017), share existing material knowledge and visual archives with the Caicaras community of Brazil.

§  It is in this geopolitical and body-political production of knowledge that the disciplines of visual anthropology and African Studies persist. 

§  A pursuit of what Sylvia Wynter[2] terms ontological sovereignty, the extension of self-conscious indigenous knowledge goes outside the ground of the orthodox body of knowledge.

Mailaika Evans, Atlantis 2016


Phase three: Invent  

·      A 22-minute documentary film

§  A filmic process of being seen and seeing oneself

§  A visual conversation between the Other, Gaia and the Global South

§  An exploration of what is earned and what is inherited

 biologically, culturally, and socially.

§  Rethinking the visual medium in service of African Anthropology

§  At the heart of this decolonial inquiry is the intellectual responsibility to

 “offer the possibility of new pathways to anthropological knowledge,

as in understanding the transmission of culture and in newly identified

areas of cultural construction[3]

Theoretical Underpinning


1.         Sylvia Wynter, Re-enchantment of Humanism

This creative research must happen because it is an opportunity for Sociogenesis, which introduces the perspective of the subject (myself and the visual narratives of the Caicaras community) that ontogenesis classifies as object (myself as an African in Brazil, the Caicaras communities as being of Tupi, Portuguese and African descent).

2.         Oyèrónkẹ Oyěwùmí ~ The Invention of Women

This visual archive research is located on the borders of the Global South, including my place of origin, Zambia, the University of Cape Town and Ilhabela island, Brazil.

This visual research problematizes Oyěwùmí’s claim that “the foundation of Africa’s problem is its close identification with Europe... to put this another way: they have misapprehended the nature of human universals[4]

The Human Universals that this visual archive is in pursuit of will be speculated as principles. These emergent principles appear in a space that is beyond theory and orbiting around non-verbal means. This pursuit is what MacDougall would describe as a rethinking of anthropology through the use of a visual medium.

Following this impulse, this visual cultural research will pursue self-conscious modes of rethinking the self and re-inventing the other[5].


Envisioned Outcome


Actualization of phase one: RECOGNIZE:

Exhibition of photographs, facilitated by Casa na Ilha

Actualization of phase two: EXTEND:

meeting institutional demands of innovating African Visual Anthropology at the Centre for African Studies, University of Cape Town.

Re-imagining and re-imaging the Human in the Global South. Centralized in this adventure is an enunciation of of cultural resistance. Return the Gaze emerges from the Zambezi River and flows into the Black Atlantic, fictionalized in instantaneous and faithful photographs and film.

Actualization of phase three: INVENT

An 22-minute auto-ethnographic film; a visual conversation between Chaze Matakala and the Caicaras community. Sharing the lens with the subject as a means of Sociogenesis. Reversing the lens by asking how can we undo the coloniality that is embedded in visual anthropology.

mermaid season.jpg


The rule is love ~ Sylvia Wynter

[1] Mignolo, W. 2015. Sylvia Wynter, What Does It Mean to Be Human? In Sylvia Wynter On Being Human as Practice. p115

[2] Wynter, S. The Re-Enchantment of Humanism: An Interview with Sylvia Wynter. p.136

[3] MacDougall, D. 1997. The visual in anthropology, p.292-293

[4] Oyěwùmí, O 1997, The Invention of Women, p.19-21

[5] MacDougall, D. 1997. The visual in anthropology, p.292-293

Chaze Matakala