European Commission logo
español español
CORDIS - Resultados de investigaciones de la UE

Building an archive of conflicting memories: <br/>A history of Carlos Casado's tannin factory in Paraguay (1889-2001)

Final Report Summary - ARCHFACT (Building an archive of conflicting memories: A history of Carlos Casado's tannin factory in Paraguay (1889-2001))

The aim of the project was to narrate the history of the Casado S.A. tannin factory in Puerto Casado (Paraguay) from 1889 to 2000, from the point of view of the different social groups that were the protagonists of this history: the ex-workers, the Salesian missionaries, the Casado-Sastre family and the descendants of the Argentinean managers and technicians. The factory, that was sold in 2000 to the Reverend Moon’s Unification Church, is today the operational center of a new company, the Victoria Paraguay S.A. that is legally owned by the Reverend Sun Myung Moon’s descendants. As part of its objectives, the project aimed at highlighting the roots of the existing tensions between indigenous and non-indigenous people, but also between the Unification Church and a group of local inhabitants that is currently claiming a part of the 500.000 hectares that belonged to the Casado territory.

In order to engage the inhabitants of Puerto Casado - and Paraguayan citizens more in general - in the research process and its results, the use of design tools has been incorporated as a key element of the research. In particular, since the second year of the project a collaboration has been initiated with the Museo del Barro in Asuncion, with whom the Fellow organized an artistic residency and an exhibition on the history of Puerto Casado. The exhibition has travelled to Puerto Casado, Asuncion, New York and Venice, each time being adapted to the local context. By presenting their history as part of a common past, and by showing the important role of indigenous people as part of the factory working force, the project aimed at fostering a dialogue between the indigenous and the non-indigenous part of the population in Puerto Casado, and at making the history of this remote area of the Chaco visible to urban center of the country. A web site that documents the exhibition and its development is hosted by the Ca’ Foscari University.

Apart from organizing an exhibition and an artistic residency, the Fellow has written a monograph on the history of the factory that has been published in August 2017 as part of the anthropology series of the Center for Anthropological Studies of the Catholic University of Asuncion (CEADUC) called “Del Trabajo Ajeno y Vacas Ariscas. Puerto Casado, Genealogías (1886-2000)”. She has realized a short documentary entitled "So’o: Life and Death of a Cow in the Paraguayan Chaco” and a text of interdisciplinary methods that are now part of the exhibition web site, and an article on a specific aspect of the local history - the relationship between indigenous people and international cooperation - that she has been written together with the Paraguayan anthropologist Rodrigo Villagra Carron ("Conexiones Inestables, Imprevistas y Pérdidas: expandiendo la arena política en la cooperación para el desarrollo y comunidades indígenas en el Chaco paraguayo").

Her work has been presented in a variety of contexts, and amongst them: the American Anthropological Association in Minneapolis, the COLLEEX - the first conference on experimental ethnography that is part of the European Association for Social Anthropology - in Lisbon, and “Paraguay at the Crossroad” in Kansas, the first conference entirely dedicated to Paraguay that has been organized in the U.S.A. Moreover, she has organized two interdisciplinary seminars aimed at strengthening the dialogue between anthropology, urban design and art practices: “Our Own Devices” (Parsons-The New School, New York, March 2017) and “The Art of Work” (Ca’ Foscari University and Bevilacqua-La Masa art foundation, Venice, April 2017).

The research will have remarkable social impacts: thanks to the attention arisen among the international public, the work will help fighting the stereotypes against indigenous people and raise awareness on ecological issues about Chaco forest, as well as the hidden political life of the area.
The results will go well beyond ARCHFACT official conclusion: the Paraguayan partner of the project, the Museo del Barro in Asuncion, has strengthened its vocational mission, that is the bridging of indigenous and non-indigenous artistic production, and experimented with new curatorial methods.
Furthermore, some of the artists that participated to the project have continued to work with the material produced during the research, thereby allowing the project to continue in the future. The Facebook fan page of the project, “Puerto Casado: Genealogias” ( has produced a great amount of visual documentation and it is followed by many Paraguayans.