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Tom Corcoran
Biocultural Diversity & Heritage Conservationist
National Geographic Global Explorer

Fading Cultures Transects

Communities have constantly found ways to systematise and transmit their knowledge, values, life skills, and competencies of natural, social, cultural and environmental resources to new generations. Even where formal education systems are in place, an informal system often remains, and much of the local knowledge and many traditional transmission methods stay in active use. They cut across numerous disciplines and fields: from cosmology and physics to health and the sustainable use of natural resources; from the human life cycle to resolving conflict and tensions; from understanding the self and one's place in society to creating collective memory; from architecture to materials science. 


The fading culture transects are a series of ethnographic journey's through the traditional communities in remote regions of the earth from, remote deserts, tropical forests, high mountain valleys to coastal fisherfolk communities. We document the local biocultural knowledge, arts and artisanal crafts' unique ways of life, traditions, and heritage stories in these rapidly changing environments.  What can we learn and share, support and document as to ensure the traditional knowledge of mankind is not lost?  The transects are a series of snapshots in a rapidly changing world, captured in literature, film, photography, and artistically. We ask; who are the real conservationists? What traditional knowledge is overlooking in the race for modern ways of living? How has migration, development and tourism affected traditional ways of life?


Tourism and development initiatives have improved access to many formally remote peoples and places, yet it has also disrupted the steady temporality of life for many traditional and once isolated communities have changed; some welcome positive shifts and some perhaps not so positive. The global pandemic has also undoubtedly impacted many new and old elements of people's lives, from the elderly artisan's, traditional knowledge and last language speakers to younger generations now dependent on tourism and the need to keep their culture's authenticity and attraction alive. 


How have these unique, culturally diverse communities maintained their way of life? What has been threatened, and what has been lost? What elements of their biocultural diversity and traditional way of life can we learn from? What can we learn, and what innovations have been developed to meet the changing environments, particularly in the face of climate change? 


This transect takes us through fading cultures, endangered language communities engaging with sources of healing, spirituality, heritage, crafts, arts, music and traditional ways of life. We also explore the fading art of Roghan, the ancient silk roadcraft. The transects are journey's of mountain roads, meandering trails and tracks. We traverse some of the worlds highest mountain passes and venture into some of the most remote desert regions, exploring the diversity of the human spirit. 

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