TRADITION: Long-Term Coastal Adaptation, Food Security and Poverty Alleviation in Latin America

2019 - Ongoing
Logo of the TRADITION project.

TRADITION is an ERC-Consolidator Grant funded research project that will assess the long-term development of small-scale fisheries in South America, and their legacy to present day food security and poverty alleviation. Our interdisciplinary team will investigate the historical ecology of subsistence fisheries along the Atlantic Forest coast of Brazil during major cultural and environmental events to test the hypothesis that fishing has played a role in supporting agricultural expansion in pre-Columbian times and during the historical colonization and urbanization of this region, and that this still echoes among present day artisanal fisheries.

The traditional knowledge of small-scale fisheries is seen as crucial in current debates and policies concerning sustainable fisheries and biodiversity, yet these fisheries and their actors are historically invisible in most tropical and subtropical regions. A thorough recognition of their socio‐economic and ecological importance requires an understanding of the scale of human interaction with marine environments and resources that transcends modern assessments and most historical records.

Molecular and isotopic analysis of organic residues preserved in ceramic vessels will inform us about the use of marine resources in everyday cuisine and other activities. Ceramics were the most common form of cooking vessel in coastal South America until relatively recently, and are well preserved in archaeological sites. Comparing their use offers an opportunity to examine patterns in coastal exploitation through time. Bayesian mixing models will be used to quantify the proportional dietary contribution of aquatic resources in different vessels, from pre-Columbian to historical times.

Project details

The project is funded by the European Research Council, and is led by Andre Carlo Colonese at the Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Organic residue analysis is undertaken by Marjolein Admiraal and Oliver Craig at the University of York.

Project collaborators

Dr André Carlo Colonese
Department of Prehistory, Institute of Environmental Science and Technology, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Spain
Dr Marjolein Admiraal
BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York, UK
Prof. Oliver Craig
BioArCh, Department of Archaeology, University of York, UK