10th International Lapita Conference, Suva, Fiji

Ania gives her presentation in front of a large digital screen.

Dr Ania Kotarba, an Archaeologist and a new staff member in Museum and Curatorial Studies at the School of Humanities, recently participated in the quadrennial 10th International Lapita Conference in Suva, Fiji.

The conference, organised by the Fiji Museum and the University of South Pacific, provided a platform for Dr Kotarba to present her paper on ‘Sustaining Culture and Heritage in Kiribati, Micronesia: the challenge of the rising seas’.

The Lapita culture, spanning approximately 1600–500 BCE, holds an immense historical significance and represents a pivotal era in the Pacific and world history. This vibrant seafaring civilisation ventured from the western reaches of Micronesia to the eastern fringes of Polynesia, leaving in its wake a remarkable legacy of creativity, craftsmanship, and social complexity. 

Today, its valuable cultural heritage is under threat from climate change snd extreme weather events, with more than 50% of archaeological sites already facing imminent danger from rising sea levels. Similar to the impacts felt worldwide, Pacific nations are experiencing the damaging effects of climate change and extreme weather events on their infrastructure, ecosystems, social systems, and cultural assets, including intangible heritage. The archipelago of Kiribati is particularly vulnerable, facing erosion, damage, and eventual destruction of its heritage that will carry profound social, economic, and environmental consequences.

In her paper, Dr Kotarba presented her previous research on Kiribati and her new research on Torres Strait Islands and explored the potential of digital strategies in documenting and managing Kiribati's cultural assets as a proactive measure in the face of impending loss.

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