In 1997 and 1998 I spent a year living in the Amazon rainforest of Brazil with a native people called the Marubo. As an anthropology student, my objective was to understand what were Marubo people's main life goals, how they pursued those goals, and what obstacles they had to overcome. My main methods were participant observation, interviews, genealogical research, and field recordings.
This is the traditional Marubo dwelling called shovo in Marubo, known commonly as maloca in Portuguese. Home to an extended family of twenty, it is cool and largely free from biting insects inside. A ten year old child provides scale. The cables bring electricity from a village generator.
From 1998 to 2001 I wrote my dissertation, The Marubo Political System, based on over 1600 pages of field notes, demographic data, audio and video recordings, and translated oral histories, along with qualitative and quantitative data analysis. In 2001 I was awarded a Ph.D. in anthropology by Tulane University.
Between 1993 and 2008 I taught anthropology and Spanish at Tulane University, University of New Orleans, and San Antonio College. I adopted active learning methods, involving students in class through structured discussions, debates, games, and simulations in addition to traditional methods such as lectures, readings, and movies.
During my field research, I was asked to record sacred songs telling of the origins, heroes, shamans, and cultural practices of the Marubo. These songs were highly endangered since only a few elders knew them. Recording sessions lasted all night, from dusk to dawn. I recorded over 40 songs on audio cassette, leaving copies in the Marubo village to make it easier for young people to study and learn.
In 2009 I undertook a second research project focused on the Marubo language and sacred songs. I spent six months in the field, using digital recorders and a laptop and hard drive powered by solar energy to record, edit, and store over 90% of all the Marubo sacred songs called saiti. I donated a hard drive with copies of all recordings for use by the Marubo community.
As a result of my fieldwork experience, I saw an urgent need to apply digital technology to cultural preservation in Amazonia. To learn the best practices in digital archive design and management, I attended the School of Information at the University of Texas in Austin on a scholarship, focusing my studies on digital archives, information organization, and the user experience (UX). I obtained a Master's of Science in Information Studies in 2012.
After graduation, I learned programming and digital design and founded Digital Soul Innovations to provide information organization and application design services. With my international experience, proficiency in multiple languages, and strong skills in research methods, application design and programming, I can help clients organize data, preserve and display collections of physical and digital objects, and reach diverse and international audiences.
Through my company I have helped a small nonprofit to organize a warehouse-sized multimedia collection including paper documents, photographs, video, digital objects, and realia. From three days on site I produced a fifty page report detailing the collection contents and requirements for materials conservation and digitization, enabling the client to pursue a sound fundraising strategy. I then trained the nonprofit staff through videochat, enabling production of a catalog of over 5000 books.
I continually work to improve and update my application design and programming skills, working on social media and file storage applications as well as on the Amazonian digital archive project. Through Digital Soul Innovations, I bring my clients top-quality user experience (UX), information architecture (IA) and information organization services.