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Introduction to “Hot Topics”

Welcome to the first in a new series of blogs from the research team that is re-writing the history of both the New and Old World by looking at the impact of the colonial encounters between Amerindians, Africans and Europeans in the Caribbean. The Nexus 1492, CARIB-HERA and Island Networks projects have been underway for more than one year and we feel it is high time for us to reach out to you, our public on both sides of the Atlantic.

Communication is Key

(If you happened to have ended up here without a clue to what Nexus 1492 and the other projects even are, we invite you to take a look at our new and improved project website: nexus1492.eu. There you will also find links to the other projects).

In all fields of science the term “public outreach” is quickly changing from a buzzword to being one of the core aspects of what it means to do research. In the last years more and more academics have been embracing the fact that the ivory tower they once inhabited has been remodeled into an open-air plaza where everything they do is and should be open to the general public.

Of course, we are no strangers to outreach: engagement with the public is one of the four pillars on which the Nexus 1492 project has been built. Successful outreach pilot projects are currently underway in our focus areas of the Dominican Republic and St. Kitts. We also endeavor to publish the results of our work in open access and easily accessible platforms.

In fact, reaching out to others that are not a specialist in our field is at the core of Nexus 1492. We are archaeologists, geo-chemists, computer scientists and experts from museum and heritage studies, who work together on a daily basis to create research synergies that advance knowledge in our very specialized fields. As a result, we have all become experts at getting our point across in non-technical lingo and many of us agree that this is actually one of the best parts of our collaborations (only yesterday I was having a ton of fun with statistician Viviana Amati and network scientist Habiba, when we were creating a fictional archaeological data-set that allows network scientists to reconstruct the networks of ancient Atlantis) .

So, we have learned the past year that communication is key and that we love reaching out to others with our ideas. There have of course been many more insights from this first year of our six year project and we are excited to share them with you.

This is why we have created this blog. Every week on Thursday we will post an easy to digest but thought provoking piece by some of the most passionate researchers you will find on both sides of the Atlantic.

We don’t want to spoil too much, but in the coming weeks you can expect to learn about what forensic facial reconstruction reveals about what Amerindians looked like, what Columbus and Santa Claus have in common, and why the first European settlement in the Caribbean is called “Christmas” (La Navidad in Spanish).

This blog is not the only way we will be reaching out to you. For starters check out or new website’s news page, become our friend on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter. All of these offer a fast and surefire way to stay up to date with our project.

If you have a general question, a comment or a brilliant idea about Caribbean archaeology, history, heritage, museums, geology or networks you want to share, we would love to hear from you! You can contact us via the comment section of this blog, or by hitting us up on Twitter and Facebook. This will put you into contact with one or more of our team of 50+ specialists.

We have also thought of those of you for who English isn’t a mother tongue. For that reason there will be occasional posts in French and Spanish. The translate button at the top of the page will take you directly to a google translate version of the page. Also, we are a multi-national and multi-lingual team and you can comment or write to us in Spanish, French, Dutch or German (and even in Tiriyo!).

The more the merrier! So, tell your friends, family and others who may be interested in our research that we are trying to reach out to them and please check back with us coming Thursday when we will have our first post by physical anthropologist and forensic specialist Dr. Hayley Mickleburgh.

By Angus A. A. Mol

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