Terror, Territory and Ethnic Television - KankuamaTV in Colombia

Matthias Kopp - Speaker

Kankuama Television was founded in the „ResguardoIndígenaKankuamo“ in 2008, only a few years after the violent confrontation between guerrillas and paramilitaries in the region had climaxed, resulting in the death of over 300 Kankuamos – a murder rate three times that of Colombia at the peak of its internal conflict. It is the manifest mission of the indigenous community channel to reinforce the ethnic identity of the Kankuama people, one of four indigenous groups who inhabit the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. As opposed to their Arhuaco, Kogi and Wiwa neighbors, the Kankuamos no longer speak their original language and they use the dress of the lowland mestizos. But ethnic identity is strongly linked to the control of the territory. The ethnic media project, half-heartedly supported by the state, sets a group of young local video-makers right in the middle of a mesh of political and economic interests, cultural symbolism, community values and the struggle for individual freedom and development. Can the electronic media help to heal the social wounds of war and reconstruct the lost identity of a people?


Matthias Kopp studied anthropology at FreieUniversität Berlin. In the late 1980’s he carried out fieldwork among indigenous migrants from Mexico to the USA, using video as an instrument for taking fieldnotes and receiving feedback. In the course of his investigation, the confrontation with violations of the basic human rights of migrant workers impulsed the urge to write and publish journalistic texts. During the following two decades, Matthias Kopp worked as a newsdesk editor and video reporter for german public broadcaster Deutsche Welle, covering news and background stories worldwide. Since 2009,he coordinates media development projects at DW Akademie, Deutsche Welle´s training institute. He is currently engaged in a training and consultancy programme for community media in Colombia.

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