Reply To: 26.5.2014 Ancient Futures

Author Replies # Posted on May 27, 2014 at 13:21

Erika Kriukelyte

• As academics, are we too afraid of being overly optimistic? Is there a culture of pessimism fueled by accusations of sentimentality and romanticization that paralyzer discourse?

Nowadays academic education breeds the young student to perceive world critical and ask them to find the best way to be bias and reflect on the process, but not to get attached to the object of the research. As the master student, I am taking part in this process, where positive attitude or any kind of empathy is judged as weak and lacking professional glaze or evaluation. “Be critical!” is the motto of contemporary researcher. The boundaries, like ethics and objective perception, are escalating as the backbones of the good research. There is the reason of this. The history of academic studies created the gulf between what is scientific and what is not, they put the splinter in the concepts of trustworthy and doubtful. The positive attitude and passion sometimes is compared or could to be confused with naïve that is not want result in the research.
In discussion what is better alienation from the research subject or gaining some kind of empathy with it, it is hard to find clear answer and often there is no right answer. The author of your discussion – Helena Norberg-Hodge – spent more then seventeen years trying to comprehend the complex lifestyle of Ladakh community. In her visit that took about six months every year, she methodologically observed the environment and recorded inside fragments of this culture. Helena became the friends with local society and in her text it could be noticeable the admiration of those people and growing contempt towards Western culture’s values. While the time passed by, she started to recognize the switch in traditional life, habits as well as behavior to more Western style of living. She claims that the same patterns, which disturb peaceful life of Ladakh society could be find in other part of the world and she is trying to find solution and measure that could be use in the wider context. However, the academic perception of her analyses and results could be conceived as unreliable, because of your personal attachment to the Ladakh people. Norberg-Hodge research could be perceived as the detailed and accurate observation of the culture that could serve as primary resource for investigation, but not so much as the academic work.
Finally, there could be a discussion if this way of approaching Norberg-Hodge life work is the correct way. By being over critical towards the author and her empathy to the research subject, we might miss important message that she is presenting. At the same time, staying in the clear discourse of our academic major and sticking with the methodological approach to the research, we are limiting or paralyzing ourselves to think inside the box.