Reply To: 26.5.2014 Ancient Futures

Author Replies # Posted on May 27, 2014 at 13:01

Globalisation, Environment and Livelihood: Ladakh, Kashmir
On the readings: Norberg-Hodge, Helena. (2009). Ancient futures: lessons from Ladakh for a globalizing world.

Question (FROM Nisa):
What do you think about Hodges methodological approach? What can be criticized?
Helena Norberg-Hodge works with micro narratives; Personal examples form the small community of Ladakh, but her conclusions are more general. I regard this approach a bit problematic, cause I think it is a difficult quest to succeed with and I am not sure if I think Norberg-Hodge pulls it all the way through. Helena is using arguments for her point’s which are almost impossible for anyone to argue against or try out, because it is personal experiences interpreted through her mind, from a “disappeared” world according to her selves.
Let me clarify; When Norberg-Hodge refers to a meeting with an old friend from the village in the city and tells the reader how the friend has changed trough impact of western cultural and economic influences, to the worse in her mind, or at least not as happy as before. How can we prove her wrong or right? How do you even measure happiness? But then the question is, do we need to measure everything, is not a qualitative approach not as valid as any other? Yes, it is also a worldview as true as any other, but you have to showcase and motivate your methods so other researchers can trace back (or even repeat) what you did to come to such conclusions as you did. Me and Helena does not come from the same discipline she is a linguist from the beginning, I come mainly from the social science. In Sociology it is important to expressively show your theoretical framework and methods, discuss them and motivate why they suit this particular study and your aim. You are also supposed to problematize over your own position in the context.
Helena is taking on such complex issues as societal, cultural, emotional and behavioral change with a stark valued vision and I lack a critical eye from her about her own stand point- this is Helena on a mission not a research. Despite her good intentions I would have taken her more serious if she had some references and didn´t generalize over long-term complex global and local processes on the basis of not making account for the methods. Chronologically I would ask for more as well, an historical approach going further back, not fixing the people of Ladahk in a primordial and content state since thousands of yerar. Human relations are a web on different levels and for thousands of years we have for instanse changed commodities, genes, culture and language, influencing each other. Who is Helena to say that the people should not listen and dance to music on the radio, to be happier about their “own” music and singing? I don´t buy this black and white picture – a monoculture is suppressing a diversity. In cultural exchange things are won and lost – life is change- a continuous process- and is never finished- thus things will evolve continuously and be both good and bad and something in between at the same time on different scales.

Ellen Lindblom