Wednesday 22 April 2009
19.00-21.00, The Ratiu Foundation / Romanian Cultural Centre, Manchester Square, 18 Fitzhardinge Street, London W1H 6EQ; Tel. 020 7486 0295, ext 108; e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org ; Entry is free but booking is essential.
“Since the autumn of 2007 I’ve been recording interviews with Romanian shepherds, sheep farmers and their families. My reason for doing this came from a sense of sadness that an ancient way of life is dying out, if not exactly unnoticed (there is a widespread interest in nomadism, animal migrations and the annual movement of flocks between summer and winter pastures known as transhumance), then largely ignored by political agenda that see no value in old-fashioned farming methods. Without wanting to sentimentalise the hardships of shepherds’ lives I feel that their voices deserve to be heard. I live in an area of Wales where environmentalists recognise that the preservation of biodiversity is dependant on sheep grazing the mountains. Since such disasters as foot and mouth disease many farmers are unwilling to take the financial risks involved and the flocks are disappearing like snow in spring. EU legislation has curtailed traditional transhumance in Romania and the Romanian national flock is also on the wane. But in other countries such as northern Greece and southern France, shepherds have either adapted or bent the rules (or the rules have been relaxed for them!), and they continue to make their traditional journeys between mountain and lowland grazing. In these and other areas, transhumance is becoming a tourist attraction. In Madrid people flock to see shepherds driving their sheep through the city centre on their annual protest against the destruction of traditional drovers’ roads. Is eco-tourism the answer for Romania’s traditional, transhumancing shepherds? Can small-scale enterprises such as the production of organic milk and cheese be made to work for ‘subsistence’ farmers? Can we afford to lose Romania’s sheep graziers?
While I’ve concentrated on collecting material from Romania, I’ve also begun making interviews with shepherds and sheep farmers in my area of Wales. I’d like to raise the profile of shepherds and pastoralism in Romania and Wales by focussing not only on their different histories and mythologies but also on present-day economic and sociological concerns.” – Caroline Juler
Caroline Juler has written two guidebooks – ‘National Geographic Traveler Romania’ (2007) and ‘Blue Guide Romania’ (2000), as well as a travel book about Romania – ‘Searching for Sarmizegetusa’ (2003).
Caroline is not and doesn’t pretend to be an expert in sheep-farming, economics or politics, but wants to make her recordings part of an oral history archive, a documentary exhibition, film and book. She’s interested in raising the above issues with people who are concerned about the loss of Romania’s rural heritage as well as its economic and moral well-being.
To find out more about Caroline’s work, please visit her website www.mamaliga.co.uk
Organised by The Ratiu Foundation / Romanian Cultural Centre in London
Culture Power is a programme initiated by the Ratiu Foundation, consisting of a number of presentations and constructive dialogue with an invited audience.