Dr Jerome Lewis
Jerome is Co-Director of the Extreme Citizen Science (ExCiteS) Research group at University College London (UCL), where he works on participatory development and intelligent mapping operations to support forest peoples and their relations with logging companies, illegal poachers and conservation law enforcers. Jerome has undergraduate and doctoral degrees in Social Anthropology from the London School of Economics and 20 years of research experience working with Pygmy hunter-gatherers and former hunter-gatherers in the Congo Basin.
Work in Rwanda with Twa Pygmies in 1993 just before the genocide led to later work on its impact on this marginalised group. Since 1994 he has worked with Mbendjele Pygmies in Congo-Brazzaville researching cultural transmission; play and religion; egalitarian politics and gender relations; language and music; and indigenous rights. His co-edited book The Social Origins of Language, will be published by Oxford University Press in 2014.
Studying the impact of global forces on many Pygmy groups across the Congo Basin has led to research into discrimination, economic and legal marginalisation, human rights abuses and to applied research supporting conservation efforts by forest people and the implementation of international legal standards such as free, prior and informed consent in their dealings with outsiders. As a director of the Extreme Citizen Science Research Group he oversees the development of appropriate technologies for semi and non-literate people to improve land and resource management and to seek environmental justice
On Synchronicity Earth:
“What I think is particularly impressive about Synchronicity Earth’s approach is that, rather than stepping in and claiming to be the experts, you identify and support existing experts that have shown that they are doing important work on the ground. Instead of trying to compete with them by establishing another NGO doing the same work better, Synchronicity Earth identifies, then encourages and supports work that is already being done well. I think that is a really powerful model, and I wish more organisations would adopt that instead of trying to make themselves into the next big thing that’s going to solve these complex problems.”
“Hunter-gatherer societies organise their economic life by a very simple principle: sharing. Anything you take out of the forest you must share on demand. You have no right to refuse anybody. You have to share what you have if somebody else asks for it. As long as you share everything you take out properly among all present, you will always experience abundance. I think that’s a very profound insight into the quandary that we face in our society, which is based around inequalities that encourage hoarding, which is, of course, wastage.”