Centre for Critical Heritage Studies


Documenting traditional knowledge for sustainability and conservation

12:00 pm to 1:00 pm, 04 March 2020

Cockpit country

CCHS Seminar series : Documenting traditional knowledge for sustainability and conservation with Lydia Gibson from UCL Anthropology

Event Information

Open to





Cecile Bremont – Centre for Critical Heritage Studies


Drayton House B03 Ricardo LT,
Drayton House
30 Gordon street
United Kingdom

Cockpit Country, a dense inhospitable forest in the uplands of Jamaica is home many endemic and threatened animal and plant species as well as the indigenous Maroons of Accompong village. After anti-mining campaigns, the forest is set to be designated as a protected area. Maroons face potential restricted access to their ancestral land: source of livelihood, lore, tradition, and autonomy. The clandestine nature of their forest use has, in part, led to the failure of conservation efforts to acknowledge and safeguard Maroon access to the forest. As a result of the Maroons’ increasing scepticism of conservation efforts, these uses are likely to remain hidden, making the advocacy of their indigenous rights in this conservation space difficult. As conservation efforts intensify, the prospective criminalisation of many forest-based traditions may result in growing risks and diminishing returns in their undertaking. As future generations seek other, modern forms of livelihood, Maroons could see the death of their centuries-old traditions at the hands of conservation. 

This project funded by the Centre for Critical Heritage Studies Small Grants scheme catalogued the forest-based traditions and customary practices of the Accompong Maroons in a series of short films, photographs, and infographics, curated in a digital exhibition – first in the village’s museum, and then later in the Natural History Museum of Jamaica. These digital archives have led to roundtable discussions with the Forestry Department on policy-making and land tenure, have been included in the village’s curriculum on traditional knowledge, has supported cultural and eco-tourism, and formed the basis of an indigenous mapping initiative funded by National Geographic: Countermapping Cockpit.  

Open to all and refreshments will be served, courtesy of  UCL Centre for Critical Heritage Studies.


Countermapping Cockpit project

Full: parrot hunting(rough cut)

National history Museum of Jamaica

Photo: 2018 © Lydia Gibson

About the Speaker

Lydia Gibson

PhD candidate in Human Ecology at UCL anthropology

Lydia Gibson is a Human Ecology PhD student in UCL Department of Anthropology studying traditional parrot hunting among indigenous Jamaican Maroons and its potential to inform our scientific understanding of climate change, land use, species distribution, and ecosystems within Cockpit Country. Working alongside Maroons, Lydia’s current project seeks to read an open-access online interactive map of Cockpit Country to facilitate conservation planning among decision- and policy-makers and to further develop local archives of traditional knowledge to encourage sustainable practices. 



More about Lydia Gibson