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Community and Creation: Laudato Si’s Conference at Oxford

At first, the weather on May 17 did not seem very good – typically English weather meant a grey and overcast sky and some sprays of rain. But closer to the end of the day, just before the sunset and “The Last Forest” movie screening as I stepped onto the beautiful Christ Church, University of Oxford campus, the sun shone again, and a rainbow seemed to descend with a blessing of the day.  

The first lecture of the day was Dr. Matthew Whelan, giving a talk titled ‘Oscar Romero, Agrarian Conflict, and the Politics of Common Use.’ I found his observations to be really interesting because it explored the contribution of Archbishop Oscar Romero in addressing land conflict issues in El Salvador. 

The second lecture was ‘Why is the Land Ruined? Agriculture, Ethics, and the Hebrew Prophets’ by Dr. Hilary Marlow. The talk was focused on the biblical connections between the wellbeing of the land and behavior of its inhabitants.  


After a brief lunch break, I had the option of attending a panel on gene drives or indigenous cosmologies. It was extremely hard to choose between those two great topics, but then I chose “indigenous cosmologies” because of my personal interest in the protection of the Amazon rainforest ecosystem. It was also partly connected with the evening movie screening, so I wanted to learn more about the topic before watching the documentary. The panel was very impressive, because it combined in-person and virtual speakers, as well as an online synchronic translation from Portuguese! During the panel, many interesting yet alarming cases from the Amazon region were shared by speakers from Brazil, India, and the UK. 

Lastly, the conference organizers screen the 2021 documentary The Last Forest, directed by Luiz Bolognesi. It was about Yanomami Indigenous people from the Amazon rainforest, whose traditional lifestyle and health is getting dramatically affected by mining activity in the region. Yanomami people have very close connection with nature and their mythology highlights their unique relations with the ecosystem around them and their constant struggle to preserve it.  

Overall, I really enjoyed participating in the conference. I met Dr. Carlos Zepeda and Ms. Harriet David from Laudato Si’ in person.  

TBC has previously worked with Laudato Si’ Research Institute as part of our Where East Meets West talks, which I organized, so it was really great to connect with the Laudato Si’ team again and discuss a topic like this that truly impacts everyone on the planet. If you want to learn more about Laudato Si’, check out their website here 

 By Veronika Kotova, Project Assistant at TBC