Dominican settlement sites from above
Some images from the UAV campaign, using a small quadrocopter to map pre-Columbian and historic archaeological sites in the Dominican Republic from above, presenting a very different view of the landscape.
By Till Sonneman
Reconstruction of Amerindian Village St. Vincent – Completed by local volunteers
Local volunteers have successfully completed the reconstruction of an Amerindian village at Argyle, St. Vincent that was initiated with NEXUS 1492 last January. The site was initially excavated by NEXUS 1492 archaeologists Dr. Corinne Hofman and Dr. Menno Hoogland and revealed floor plans of a number of Amerindian houses. The reconstruction was based on these excavated floor plans and detailed descriptions of 16th century travellers.
Un antiguo alimento caribeño muy nutritivo, pero peligroso
Loma de Guayacanes (Nexus 1492) — En los albores de la conquista y de la colonización española del Nuevo Mundo, hace más de 515 años, uno de los principales protagonistas de ese evento en la isla de La Española pudo observar y documentar el uso que los indígenas de la región del Higüey hacían de un alimento muy nutritivo y conocido como pan de guáyiga. Fue Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, en su conocida obra Apologética Historia de las Indias, quien describió cómo los indígenas de la isla hacían el pan o bollo de guáyiga con la masa extraída del tronco subterráneo de una planta silvestre del género Zamia (guáyiga en la República Dominicana, marunguey en Puerto Rico y coontie o conti en las Bahamas y la Florida).
Healing Landscapes in Cuba and Dominican Republic
Recently, Cuban news reported that a Ceiba tree was removed from the center of Havana. Why did this event become a headline? Perhaps because the history books mention this site as where the first Catholic Mass took place. But for many devotees, this tree represented a dwelling of a Saint, Orisha, Mother Ceiba and/or Ancestors which were consulted for health and wellbeing. As such, its symbolism preceded events, such as the first Mass recorded in historical sources.
The Birth of Caribbean Bureaucracy: Insights from Graeber’s “The Utopia of Rules”
Recently, I read David Graeber’s book “The Utopia of Rules: On Technology, Stupidity, and the Secret Joys of Bureacracy” and it gave me a new insight into something I had been puzzled by for a long time: the supposedly absolute power of the Spanish monarchs and the actual powerlessness of some of their royal decrees and representatives.
Peer Coaching for NEXUS Researchers
Last month new results from research of PhD candidates in the NEXUS1492 were discussed in small groups consisting of students, postdocs and senior investigators. In these coaching meetings, NEXUS team members reviewed and provided feedback on the dissertations of the PhD students.
Film No 2: Living on Heritage – Amerindian Presence in Haiti
There was no initial plan to make this short film on Haiti, but the idea developed over time. Joseph Sony Jean focuses in his PhD dissertation on the changes of the historic landscape around Fort Liberté in the département Nord-Est.
Film No 1: La Ruta de Colón – Historic Importance and Heritage
After the first short introductory film on the excavations of El Flaco in 2014, this new film tries to connect two main topics of Nexus1492: firstly the perception of the local Dominicans who participated in the excavations of El Flaco on their connection with the indigenous heritage, and who I interviewed at the site in July 2015.
How are Caribbean museums contributing towards a more sustainable society?
Since 1977 this day has been celebrated annually around to globe to highlight the importance of museums. Reminding ourselves of the positive impact of museums is particularly urgent at this time, because of the destruction of museums and cultural heritage that has been in the news. Some of these tragedies have been man-made (such as the destruction of the Mosul museum), others resulting from natural disasters (before and after images in Nepal). Terrorist attacks on museums, visitors and collections are highlighting how incredibly powerful culture is – so powerful that it is being fought over. Natural disasters are a painful reminder to work harder towards protecting our cultural heritage and to achieve a better balance with nature and our planet.
It is particularly fitting, then, that the theme this year for International Museum Day is Museums for a Sustainable Society. Museums have the power to impact society greatly and positively. They can work towards a sustainable society by battling intolerance and working towards greater inclusivity. Culture can be used to bring people together, to overcome differences or to wear down negative stereotypes. On the other hand, museums can also teach us and inspire us to live sustainable lives and to be more respectful of our planet and its resources.
With other NEXUS team members or alone, I have travelled throughout many islands and countries of the Caribbean to visit some of the hundreds of diverse museums in the region. How have the museums here been tackling the issues of social and environmental sustainability? I would like to share a few examples from Caribbean museums with you.
Sustainable Land Management: an integrated approach
In the Caribbean, landscape changes are nothing new. Throughout history, the region has been one that exemplifies man-made changes to landscape, beginning with Amerindians, continuing to the importation of exotic species through the colony area, extreme land degradation caused by sugar plantation, forced settlement of millions of enslaved Africans, diverse populations of indentured labourers, and continued mixing of cultures from globalised interactions today, such as tourism.
This has created a resilient and unique region of diversity in ecology, cultures and communities.
Today these landscape changes on small islands are multiplied, creating vulnerability due to population pressure, natural disasters, economic volatility and climate change. Further, this puts communities and landscapes.