Start › Forums › Courses › Current Debates and Themes in Global Environmental History › 26.5.2014 Ancient Futures
|May 28, 2014 at 08:40 #12865|
Reply to Nisa’s reflection by Kristina Berglund
|May 28, 2014 at 09:13 #12866|
Erika, I think you raise some really interesting points in your response. Critical thinking is obviously a very important component of research; being able to deconstruct narratives and question their premises enables a more nuanced understanding of the world we live in. However, getting caught up in criticism for it’s own sake can hinder attempts to move beyond discussion and into action. But distinguishing between constructive and ineffectual criticism is very difficult, and I would argue moves us into an ethical gray zone.
|May 28, 2014 at 12:37 #12869|
Reply to Anna from Maria
|May 28, 2014 at 12:47 #12870|
Reply to Ellen’s answer
Ellen, thank you for your take on the issue of methodology in Helena’s book, you have indeed answered my question in a very satisfying way. I agree with you on many points, especially regarding her rather naive and patronizing “primordialization” of the Ladakhi people, who have been living the same way “for thousands of years” (her words exactly). It is the typical trap of Orientalism that many researchers fall into and I wanted to bring this issue up, since as global environmental historians, we will be tempted often to do the same and I think it is important to reflect your theoretical and ideological stance and lay it bare to your readers. And as you said Helena did neither, thus her book lacks theoretical persuasion. Regarding the linguistic approach: I have a background in lingustics and philosophy and all I can say is that linguists also have to present their theoretical apparatus and must rely on rigorous argumentation and painfully detailed reconstructions (in case of historical linguistics). Helena is not trained in ethnographic methodology and I think the book in question could have benefitted if she had employed some insights from the ethnographic discipline. In this case, the book reminded me of pioneering colonial linguists who wrote impressions in their diaries. But on the other hand the sentimental undertones might be just the thing we need in academic discourse, since its rigidity and strict referencing discipline make it a jargon unable to convey some things. But in the end, if you do this, you must take a critical stance towards it, because if simply claiming “these people have lived the same way for thousands of years”, comes off as unprofessional and irresponsible and a good bit arrogant too.
|May 28, 2014 at 13:23 #12871|
In the first part of your reflection, you synthesized Helena Norberg-Hodge ideas and offered your own evaluation of her text. In this part, I would like to focus more attention to your mentioned, as well as author, one-way notion of development, linear progress path. This perception of the world leads to unification of the systems, which develops the same agendas for the desired outcome and in the same time it depends to have constant growth. However, the natural world does not fit in these frames of similarities and unstoppable augmentation, because it has its own laws that cannot be tamed. Thus this created the alienation between expected outcome and the real results. In some point, Helena’s attention to global and local visually expresses this gap and she considers this to be the reason that caused the problem created by unification. I believe it is important to understand that unification does not bring equality and equity, but on the contrary it caused gentrification.
|May 28, 2014 at 14:39 #12874|
Reply to Yaqi Fu’s answer to the question: “Why was the Ladakh society so vulnerable by Western culture?” from Wenzel
I think that you did a very good analysis of Helena Norberg-Hodge’s intentions when you link her rethorics of localisation, strengthening social bonds, preservation of traditions and critical education towards western cultures to the aim of promoting the “economics of happiness”. I can also understand that you perceive her approach as slightly backward oriented and almost preservativist. This is very important to consider when answering my question.
|May 28, 2014 at 15:33 #12875|
Reply to Maria
Thanks for your reflection that answered to my question very well. From your reflection, I have got a feeling that your opinion is a little different from Helena’s. You think the modern education would be much helpful to the local people. As you argued, to my understanding, the benefits would mainly lie in the theoretical knowledge which modern education can provide the local people while other kinds of tradition may not or can not. The scientific methods are also useful in solving problems like finding medicine, using resources.
However, Helena believed the Ladakh community should be cautious to the modern education and try to preserve their local culture. She thought that the modern education has no much help with the local affairs. You can receive modern education, but the knowledge from school would not help you contribute to the local community, and it alienates you from the local life.
For me, what I reflect is that modern education would help in creating facilitation in daily life, but would be hard to create or improve the relationship among people and the relationship between human and nature. What the shaman method provides is not only the cure of a disease, even it has, but a relation between nature and your body. The people in the local community can have only 4 months work but 8 months fest. Fest is not something facilitates life, but rather an enforcement or signature of relation among things and people’s life.
|May 28, 2014 at 15:52 #12876|
Reply to Sabbath
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