One of the main goals of HERCA project is to educate the general public through suitable outreach activities. Whenever possible, the data produced by the members of the project will not only be disseminated at international and national academic conferences (some conferences planned are: International Meeting of Amazonian Archaeology, Society of Brazilian Archaeology, and the Society of American Archaeology) by oral and poster presentations, but it will be also disseminated through non-academic workshops, museum exhibits (UK, Brazil, Bolivia) and booklets.
The overall aim is to engage with museums to strengthen the cultural identity of inhabitants of the Beni province of Amazonian Bolivia and foster awareness of its sustainable land-use potential.
The Beni province, which comprises the study areas 1 and 2, is one of the poorest regions in South America. The Bolivian government is keen to promote archaeological heritage to enrich Beni cultural identity and foster awareness of land-use potential beyond cattle ranching and intensive rice cultivation (the predominant economic activities today). We focus on museums because they are uniquely placed to achieve these goals via their collections and outreach activities.
We will engage with two ‘project-partner’ Bolivian museums – The Ethno-Archaeological Kenneth Lee Museum (EAKLM) in Trinidad, and the National Museum of Ethnography and Folklore (MUSEF) in La Paz.Both museums play a central role in educating children across study area 1 about their cultural heritage. By focusing our activities here, we will therefore ensure long-term educational impact. We will apply best practice, via interactive exhibits, to create dynamic environments which entertain and inspire audiences, linking the past with the present to inform individual and community identity. Visitors will benefit from an enhanced sense of cultural identity and place fostered by interactive exhibits of Pre-Columbian heritage. Our exhibits will focus on two key themes: a) cultural identity — based on a 10,000-year cultural history developed in this project, and b) sustainable land use — by using our research findings to demonstrate that seasonal flooding and drought, which still pose the main environmental challenges to the region, need not prevent thriving economies based on diverse land-use strategies. Our project findings will help inform alternative models of sustainable land use as a means of poverty alleviation.
An exhibition of our project findings and artefacts will be held at MUSEF. The national prestige of this museum will ensure our exhibition reaches a wide public audience, including the political sphere with the legislative power to protect this cultural heritage. Via our project website and social media, we will convey our project findings to a global audience.
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