Healing Landscapes in Cuba and Dominican Republic 05 June 2016
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” 02 June 2016
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 01 June 2016
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 27 May 2016
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 19 May 2016
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? 18 May 2016
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 10 May 2016
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.
Kalinago Excavations: a conversation with a La Poterie Landowner 22 April 2016
Cleopatrice Daniel Andrew visited Leiden University for presentations on the La Poterie excavations that were conducted earlier this year. Cleopatrice, a trained fashion and textile designer with a teaching degree, is originally from Grenada and owns the land where a Kalinago settlement was found earlier this year. During her visit, she shared her thoughts on the NEXUS excavations that took place in her backyard last January.
Caribbean Collections Abroad: Museums, History, and Politics at SAA 15 April 2016
Mariana Francozo (NEXUS 1492) and Paola Schiappacasse (University of Puerto Rico) organised a panel at the Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology in Orlando, Florida on 8 April 2016. The contributions dealt with the various dimensions (ethical, legal, historical) of Caribbean cultural objects housed in museums in the US and Europe.
Socio-Ecological Resiliency in the Kalinago Territory: A GIS and Mapping approach 17 March 2016
The Ministry of Kalinago Affairs, in partnership with Dilianie Darroux and Eloise Stancioff of NEXUS 1492, hosted a presentation on landscape change, social-ecological resiliency and community mapping of the Kalinago Territory in Dominica. This event presented findings of collaborative research and activities that had occurred in the Territory throughout January and February. Held at the Ministry offices in Rousseau, the event provided background information, project results as well as possible ways forward. Through the combined efforts of local partners, the results included development of a GIS database of Kalinago Territory, land hazard mapping for both soil erosion and run off potential into water resources.