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Languages of the world : Preserving the Guarani culture and environment through musical practices

Isolation from colonial forces in subtropical forests allowed the Brazilian indigenous Guarani people to maintain ontological elements associated with attitudes of solidarity, belonging and respect for nature through daily musical practices. In their album Ñande Reko Arandu - Memória Viva Guarani, Guarani Mbya and Nhandeva peoples from the São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro regions illustrate the daily musical rituals that construct the Guarani in their repertoire of popular children songs and xondaro (fight/dance) songs.

Ñande Reko Arandu - Memória Viva Guarani


The album describes their tribes’ essential, ontological conception of nature, encouraging their audience to build meaning through a similar respect for biodiversity and enchantment with life to motivate their commitment to sustainable development. Ñande Reko Arandu, a « way of being and living with wisdom », symbolizes the Guarani’s spiritual and ritualistic practices. The album thus represents a political assertion of the people’s peace, union and harmony with nature and their cultural patrimony to affirm their existence.

The first song, Nhaneramoi’i Karai Poty (Spokesman Karai Poty), invokes Xeramõi Karai Poty’s fight for the recognition and demarcation of indigenous lands in São Paulo to strengthen the Guarani people. It recalls Poty’s call for the simultaneous preservation of nature and traditional cultures above mercantile interests, considering how colonial indigenous marginalization historically contributed to environmental degradation and how Poty’s creation of indigenous reservations strengthened and united the community around environmental preservation.

Nhaneramoi’i Karai Poty thus transmits the Guarani’s intertwined conception of nature and indigenous peoples to the audience to encourage them to focus on both the preservation of nature and traditional culture in sustainable development. The second track, Gwyrá Mi, presents the Guarani reserve as a peaceful environment, where « the yellow bird flies from tree to tree at dawn ». It encourages the audience to consider that this peaceful reality was created by Nhanderu, the « True God », who, according to Guarani belief, led Man to Earth and warned him against selfishness, as the root of all evil.

Ñande Reko Arandu celebrates indigenous culture while also functioning as a form of dialogue and remembrance around the indigenous way of living in harmony with the environment. It demonstrates different ways of building meaning through solidarity, respect and integration of oneself with the ecosystem and highlights the ontological possibilities for sustainable development.


This article is a result of a collaborative project between #AuxSons and Alejandro Abbud Torres Torija, lecturer at Sciences Po Paris Campus Reims, and regular contributor to #AuxSons. As part of the class “Languages of the World/ World of Languages”, international students from Sciences Po Paris Campus Reims prepared articles presenting contemporary music from different parts of the world in connection with recent socio-political events.


The authors : 

Gabriel Maia is a bachelor’s student of Social Communication at the University of Brasília, with academic experience in the field of the right to information as a basic premise for the construction of public policies for the rural, forest, and water populations, through the Territories of Hope Observatory - TERRES/GEA/UnB and Fundação Oswaldo Cruz Brasília - Fiocruz Brasília, and online violence, surveillance techno-politics, and virtual territories through the Brazilian Observatory of Online Violence. Currently, he is part of the exchange program of the Institute of Political Studies of Paris (Sciences Po Paris) on Political Humanities. His interests rely on sociolinguistics, traditional communities, and their insertion into the virtual environment.

Luana Lima is a Brazilian student working through her SciencesPo-University of Sydney Double Diploma in Political Humanities. Having spent her childhood in New Zealand, and then her formative years travelling around the world in a catamaran with her family, she developed an early interest in the nuanced divergences and convergences of languages. This curiosity developed into her current fascination with the worldwide foundational power of language in music, and music in language.

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