Since 2003, I participated in the research group of the University of Nariño in Colombia on intangible heritage, cultural itineraries and material heritage, collaborating with visual ethnography and participatory action research.
Carnaval de negros y blancos
Arising out of native Andean and Hispanic traditions, the Carnaval de negros y blancos (Black and White Carnival) in San Juan de Pasto in south-western Colombia is a great celebration lasting from 28 December to 6 January each year. The celebrations begin on the 28th with the Carnival of Water − the throwing of water in homes and on the streets to initiate a festive mood. On New Years Eve, the Old Years parade takes place, with marchers carrying satirical figures representing celebrities and current events, and culminating in a ritual burning of the passing year.
The main days of the carnival are the last two, when people of all ethnicities don black cosmetics on the first day, then white talcum on the next to symbolize equality and integrate all citizens through a celebration of ethnic and cultural difference. The Black and White Carnival is a period of intense communion, when private homes become collective workshops for the display and transmission of carnival arts and a wide range of people come together to express their views of life. The festival is especially important as the expression of a mutual desire for a future of tolerance and respect.
Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System
This site is an extensive Inca communication, trade and defence network of roads covering 30,000 km. Constructed by the Incas over several centuries and partly based on pre-Inca infrastructure, this extraordinary network through one of the world’s most extreme geographical terrains linked the snow-capped peaks of the Andes – at an altitude of more than 6,000 m – to the coast, running through hot rainforests, fertile valleys and absolute deserts. It reached its maximum expansion in the 15th century, when it spread across the length and breadth of the Andes.
The Qhapaq Ñan, Andean Road System includes 273 component sites spread over more than 6,000 km that were selected to highlight the social, political, architectural and engineering achievements of the network, along with its associated infrastructure for trade, accommodation and storage, as well as sites of religious significance.