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“Sustainability” and Indigenous Building – Submitting a Paper
July 15, 2008
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I have submitted the paper for IASTE's 20th anniversary conference, to be hosted by Oxford Brookes (The abstract had been accepted back in April). The paper is based on the same case I presented in 2005 at the Indigenous Voices conference in Berkeley. It extracts the lessons learned from this case, regarding sustainable building in traditional environments.

The paper talks about the disappointment of some environmentalists when three Upper Amazon Secoya (Sieco_pai) communities abandoned living in traditional buildings and massively adopted tin roofed houses. In my opinion, the Secoya move actually highlighted the limits of expectations that are commonly held on the sustainable nature of indigenous building. The paper characterizes those expectations as a myth, and concludes that the Secoya decision to stop building palm thatched houses (which used to be a paradigm of sustainability in the past, but are not so anymore because of a number of reasons) actually challenged the conventional perception of what "sustainable" means in a traditional community. Their decision indeed serves as a reminder that sustainable building is a relative and adaptable standard, one that changes according to time, place and other conditions.

In a few months I should hear about the publication status of the paper. In the meantime, I plan to retake another writing project that also deals with the issue of traditional building and environment, in this case focusing on a wider, ethno-historical context.

About this article
On a paper submission for the IASTE 20th anniversary conference.

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