"In 2012, I founded YURTA Association to put my knowledge at the service of the indigenous communities and their natural ecosystems since I started collaborating with WAMIP as an adviser.
This collaboration brought me to act as a facilitator between groups of pastoralists of High and Central Asia and international organizations wishing to work with them, as ICIMOD, FAO, IUCN and IFAD. From this have emerged some promising projects such as the World Yak Herders Association and Himalayak. For next year, YURTA plans new projects to continue exploring the nomadic heritage around the World".
Santiago J. Carralero Benítez, expert in nomadic-tradition peoples and visual artist,
is graduate in Geography and History (UNED), graduate in Social and Cultural Anthropology (UNED), master in Anthropological Research and its applications (UNED), and expert in Indigenous Peoples, Human Rights and International Cooperation (UC3m).
"I was born in the southern Spanish city of Málaga in 1962, and since a very early age I began to dream with nomads, East Asia and grasslands. Later, I moved to Canary islands and then to Valencia to study Fine Arts following my passion for oil painting and the classical masters such as Velazquez and Rembrandt. After some years I become a government official to get a financial stability. Then I started to travel abroad as a tourist and mountaineer too, and these first trips were key to feed my interest for biocultural diversity.
Besides living in the Spanish cities of Malaga, Tenerife, Valencia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Granada and Plasencia, I have also lived in Edinburgh (Scotland), Chengdu (China) and Wageningen (The Netherlands). During this period of time and thanks to serveral unpaid leaves I could visit more than 30 countries around the World in search of the nomadic heritage, highlighting Chile, Bolivia, Argentine and Peru in America; Namibia, Botswana, Kenya, Uganda and Morocco in Africa; and Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, China, Nepal, India, Thailand and Vietnam in Asia.
As a visual artist, I has participated in some exhibitions (Salamanca, Plasencia, Amsterdam) and sold a limited stock of artworks to private collectors, as my production has been very limited due to my job, the frequent journeys and my participation in a diversity of projects related to my facet as an activist antropologist.
As a social researcher I has carried out some fieldwork campaigns in South America and Asia. My major anthropological works include a book published in 2007 resuming 3 years of research among the itinerant groups of North-Western India with the leit-motiv of the origin of gypsies (published in Spanish), a research on the present-day situation of the Yaghan people in Navarino Island (Chile), displayed in form of a visual exhibition in the 2009 IUAES Congress (Kunming, China), and some years later (2008-2014), a long campaign carried out in East Tibet (Kham and Amdo), which provided the data to write my master thesis, serving at the same time to gain a specialization in the High Asia environment and culture. More recently, I implemented the two-years porject "Community Dialogues in High Asia" among yak-herding communities of High Asia (2016-17), with FAO funding, and elaborated the report "Following the thread of Yak" for IFAD" (2019).