XVI Kunming Congress, China

Kunming, China. Pietro Laureano’s appeal at the XVI World Congress of Anthropologists against the Exodus from the Historic Centers and the destruction of nomadic and oasis cultures.

4000 anthropologists from all over the world gathered from July 27 to 31 in Kunming, Western China, to discuss humanity, development and cultural diversity. In the scientific session organized by Professor Yoshiito Shimada of the University of Nagoya in Japan, Pietro Laureano, Director of IPOGEA International Center for Traditional Knowledge has presented a report on traditional water management techniques in Afro-Eurasian arid areas. The study showed that the traditional knowledge of peoples who have faced water scarcity and aridity are an extraordinary reservoir of technical solutions and know-how useful to tackle climate warming and desertification processes. This knowledge has shown their styling in different areas of the world as in China where traditional techniques of artificial dune creations are used to block the wholeness of entire villages; In Nepal, where the construction of stone walls contrasts with the melting of glaciers; In Ethiopia, using drainage and rainwater systems to withstand drought; In the Algarve Sahara, with the restoration of the Foggara ‘that allow to produce water in the arid desert using underground microclimates of condensation; In Mediterranean countries with the reprocessing of dry stone walls to block the erosion of the slopes and the hydrogeological breakdown.

This knowledge is endangered by the destruction of local cultures due to forced migrations and exits and caused by established development models. In China, every year, 10,000,000 people leave nomadic and rural environments to fuel high-growth urban growth. The Panel launched a special appeal against the use of archaeological issues and development imperatives to motivate the forced exodus of populations. Indeed, in spite of the emblematic lessons of Petra in Jordan and Matera in southern Italy, persecution of populations from historic places bearing traditional knowledge of environmental protection continues throughout the world. Kashagar and the villages threatened by the Dam of the Three Gorges in China as well as Gurma in Egypt, razed to the ground to make room for archaeological research, are the most recent emblematic situations.

But major concerns arise from the development policies of the historic city of Lalibela in Ethiopia, and the spread of monumental restoration projects and costly, heavy and unmanageable archaeological conservation projects, such as the roofs of the Megalithic temples of Malta and the ancient theater of Cyprus.

The Panel intends to contact UNESCO to carry out on these issues an ethical paper for intervention on monuments, sites and places that place the knowledge and rights of local populations in the first place.

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