EASA, 2008: EASA08: Experiencing diversity and mutuality

Ljubljana, 26/08/2008 – 29/08/2008


World in Europe

Location R1A
Date and Start Time 28 Aug, 2008 at 14:00


Viacheslav Rudnev (Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology) email
Peter Nas (Leiden University) email
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Short Abstract

The workshop aims to discuss papers on social questions ranging from problems in healthcare and rural development to the construction of identity in modern society. It will discuss the role of material and immaterial heritage in local and worldwide contexts.

Long Abstract

Heritage and traditional knowledge are very important in the modern world. People are in search of ways to solve problems in the human-nature-society system by applying both high technologies and folk wisdom. Original folk technologies quite often assist in solving everyday problems (healthcare, cooking and so on). Practice has shown that folk knowledge can actually be functional in solving high level problems caused by human impact on the environment (e.g. farming methods) offering possibilities for effective long-term sustainable production at the local level. Heritage is also important in modern urban contexts for reasons of identity construction and nation building. Besides material culture, symbolism and ritual constitute an important part of it.

In this workshop we intend to discuss cross-cultural perspectives and focus on the analysis of local heritage and traditional wisdom in the context of modern problems.


A lost Roma tale: ethnocentric versus xenocentric attitudes in the Gârcini Roma community

Author: Mihai Burlacu (Transilvania University, Brasov)  email
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Long Abstract

This paper presents an exploratory study on a Roma community from the town of Săcele, Braşov County, Romania. The Gârcini slum, part of the town of Săcele, is now in economical decline. The Roma community from Gârcini numbers 45 families with a total of 309 persons. My research is an exploratory one. In Gârcini, from a total population of 6299 inhabitants, 2256 have a social work file. I wanted to study two opposite attitudes present in Gârcini (i.e. ethnocentrism and xenocentrism), in relation with the processes of exclusion, disconnection and political neglect that is facing this community. The attitudes represent an important aspect of the cultural pattern. The cultural pattern is the fundament for any sustainable community project. At the beginning of the 21st century, in Romania, a number of community development projects on Roma communities failed due to the fact that the cultural pattern wasn't an aspect taken into account by the project designers. Therefore, my hypothesis argues that these dominant attitudes of the group represent an important aspect for the design of sustainable community development projects. This is the largest and most impoverished Roma community from Braşov County and one of the poorest Roma communities from Romania. The Roma community's needs are only partially covered and as a result, any type of successful community development project is of great significance.

Sustainability and folk culture: some features in contemporary life

Authors: Dorothy Billings (Wichita State University)  email
Viacheslav Rudnev (Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology)  email
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Long Abstract

The interest of the 21st century's society in Folk cultures has been generated by features of modern society's problems; in particularly, problems of interaction in the "Human-Nature-Society" system. In 1992 the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) set standards defining violations of the global environment. The Agenda 21', adopted at this Conference, focused on the need for new solutions to problems regarding the relationship between nature and society.

The interest of society in folk knowledge with regard to life-support activities has fallen on the period beginning with the active transformations of the environment as a result of industrial society's infringement on Nature, and leading to the recognition of the necessity in generating new approaches based on exploitative technologies friendly to Nature.

Hunters, fishermen, farmers in different areas of the World have accumulated unique data, the results of observations in wild nature. This data can be found in folk signs and folk technologies. Farmers in Eurasia, for example, have created a unique system of using Nature which is based not only on original technologies but also includes ethical norms. We will focus our attention in this paper on methods of life-support activities effective for long-term sustainable production at the local level.

Rituality: a form of hidden ritual

Author: Janusz Baranski (Jagiellonian University)  email
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Long Abstract

The paper's theoretical point of departure is Barthes' concept of mythicity (le mythique) which he invented in order to grasp new forms of myths dispersed in various forms of public discourse. According to Barthes, mythical stories of old times do not exist any more but their functions are currently fulfilled by the practices and texts of literature, art, popular culture, politics etc. The paper asserts that although older institutionalized and formalized rituals did not completely dissapear from the cultural landscape of contemporary world, they were partially replaced by the practices of rituality: ways of moving, dressing, arranging interior design, using particular items, attending cultural entertainments etc. These forms of rituality could be regarded in terms of the rhetoric of human action. The concept of rituality is close to the concepts of performative utterances (Austin), liminoid (Turner), and habitus (Bourdieu). The moment of reflection relates to Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow in which one experiences oneself in two ways: being aware of one's action but not being aware of the one's awarness.

Migrants and their traditions in Moscow megacity

Author: Marina Martynova (Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology Russian Academy of Sciences)  email
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Long Abstract

In last two decades Russia and especially its capital Moscow has become one of the leaders in the global migration processes. More and more people with different cultural backgrounds are becoming new Moscow inhabitants. This process has varied and complicated influences on the megacity community (on teenagers and adults). I will speak about the role of the traditions of the cultures of migrants in everyday life of the Moscow community. The paper will also pay attention to the process of the social and cultural integration of migrants from the point of view of old city residents. The process of cultural integration has some specificity in the Moscow megacity. This process is part of the total changes in the community mode of life.

Aligning indigenous leadership and development in an African context

Author: Julie Taylor (SIL International)  email
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Long Abstract

For the Sabaot people of Kenya's western highlands, traditional beliefs as well as historical assumptions of identity and geographic entitlement are rooted in a patrilineal clan structure, within which traditional prophets have a powerful role as guardians of mythical knowledge and prophecy. In the late 1800s, a sequence of economic, social, developmental and territorial pressures began to impact the Sabaot, and in 2006, an unprecedented wave of blood-letting emerged, spear-headed by a home-grown rebel militia known as the Sabaot Land Defence Force. By early 2008 the essence of collective identity had fractured, with clan members turning on each other, sub-groups claiming alternative ethnic membership, and the traditional prophets either dispersed or forcefully suppressed. Any progress in looking as a community at fresh directions or seeking sustainable solutions had been subsumed by violence and fear, and the notion that identity strengthens in the face of political struggle and forced compromise was markedly absent. This paper proposes that those construed as a contributing source of divisiveness, namely the prophets, should be considered an essential key in helping the Sabaot unite as "one stomach". The Sabaot have demonstrated that responding to respected leadership from within their clans takes priority over national policies implemented by leaders they do not trust. As a new generation of Sabaot look for peace in their homeland, the challenge is whether their prophets will become advocates for renewed social cohesion, able to help the unique traditions of the Sabaot exist in mutual partnership with national development aims.

Storytelling for peace-building and sustainable cultural diversity

Author: Robert McKee (Graduate Institute of Applied Linguistics)  email
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Long Abstract

Indigenous cultural knowledge does not always lend itself to harmonious inter-group relations or cultural survival. In fact, according to Robert Edgerton’s Sick Societies (1992), certain parts of this knowledge—e.g., certain beliefs, practices, and values—may be seriously maladaptive for the societies concerned. If culture is viewed as an adaptive process, as in Louise Grenier’s Working with Indigenous Knowledge (1998) and UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity (2002), then maladaptive parts may legitimately be changed or abandoned.

Storytelling, as treated in Jessica Senehi’s ‘Constructive storytelling: A peace process’ (2002), is presented as an accessible, flexible means by which a community might examine values embedded in its traditional stories with an eye to abandoning strifeful values and transforming destructive storytelling into constructive. Storytelling for peace-building in Mangbetu (northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo) is used to sketch and illustrate a simple model of the indigenous knowledge-sustainable development relationship. Story examples are two Mangbetu tales from the author’s own researches; some brief Mangbetu ethnography, including of Mangbetu tales generally, is first provided as context; Mangbetu tale values examined concern (1) the assertion of fictive brother¬hood on the basis of minimal sameness and (2) vengeance in spades against a neighbor-brother for perceived injustice. By analysis, the tales illustrate the point that constructive storytelling lends itself to peace-building and sustainable cultural diversity, while destructive story¬telling lends itself to opposite ends. In conclusion, a number of thoughts are presented concerning structure and process for storytelling for peace-building workshops in Mangbetu.

The archetypal ‘language of light’ from ethnical tradition to modern technology

Authors: Traian-Dinorel Stanciulescu (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University)  email
Aritia Poenaru (National Inventics Institute, IASI)  email
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Long Abstract

The constant presence of some archetypal forms / symbols of LIGHT is mediating the human transition from nature to culture, both representing: (1) a consequence of the cosmic laws of becoming, having RESONANCE as the connecting principle of the micro-macrocosmic and human world; (2) an outcome of the socio-historical progress, essentially based on the COMMUNION with fellow beings by means of certain symbols of biological and spiritual (bio)light.

The CONNECTION SYNERGY between human being and cosmos was implicitly assumed by the traditional creations / practices, both as: (a) a natural one, contributing to the biological health optimization by the objective resonance upon the human body of the materials, colors and forms used in architecture, tools, clothing, etc., respectively to the energizing ritually of dance, music, speech; (b) a cultural one, psycho-logically optimizing the human being by his / her faiths, by permanently informing that he / she is both a divine and a cosmic creation, belonging to a "sacred world". For justifying such a double connection, a complex of Romanian archetypal examples are explicitly offered, starting from the traditional ones to those realized by the power of the recent (nano)technologies.

Anthropologically, to (re)valorize the force of archetypal (light) language for the benefits of contemporary life represents the main purpose of this paper.

* This paper is realized and financially sustained into the frame of the "MATNANTECH" CEEX 32/2005 research program: BIOPHOTONIC NANOTECHNOLOGIES APPLIED IN TEXTILE INDUSTRY. BENEFIC EFFECTS OF "BIOPHOTONTEX" CLOTHING.

Asian life style programme in Hungary (the impact of Yoga on everyday life)

Author: Eva Sebestyen (University of Porto)  email
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Long Abstract

The challenges of social affairs, among them the problems of public health, environmental protection, education have reached global dimensions nowadays. Realizing the importance of taking responsibility of these demands of our century an ethnographic survey is conducting in the main Yoga Centre in Hungary. The goal is to study the Yoga practitioners’ main goal to maintain harmony with nature as well as safeguard and promote spiritual, mental and physical well-being. This paper focuses on the presentation an anthropological approach of an Indian life style programmed which looks for harmonizing the body and the spiritual needs of Hungarians. Yoga is a holistic and comprehensive system concerning body, mind, consciousness and soul. The practitioners learn their human responsibility towards the world and environment in which they are living; to foster compassion for all living beings; to develop hidden forces dormant in all of us and learn how to utilize them for the benefit of the world. The research in work process has the following objectives. Conducting a change study on diet habits, life style and health conscience of people practicing yoga. This paper deals with a diet survey and lifestyle change in the main yoga centre in Budapest. The aim of this paper to show what kind of results can be achieved if the principles of Yoga are present in everyday life in the health preservation, external and internal cleanliness, appropriate diet and proper life style.

Integrating traditional and modern knowledge of malaria among the Sabaot of Mount Elgon in Kenya

Author: Godfrey Kipsisei (SIL International)  email
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Long Abstract

Some people assume there is an inevitable conflict between modern and traditional medicine. They assume that, if folk societies hold largely traditional concepts of disease causation, treatment and prevention, they will therefore largely reject modern medical services. The majority of Kenyan communities, including the Sabaot, hold medical concepts that are largely traditional. Although this hinders effective communication between modern healthcare providers and traditional clients, it does not prevent Sabaot from using modern medicine selectively. The relationship between the modern and traditional Sabaot systems is shown to be multifaceted, not just competitive, supplementary or complementary.

The paper contributes toward bridging the gap between the modern and traditional Sabaot systems by providing data on Sabaot concepts and practices concerning malaria. Various types of remedial practices are described, including ill-founded and ineffective ones. How the traditional Sabaot and modern systems complement each other is offered as an example of how to confront malaria in Kenya effectively. People in medicine and healthcare are encouraged to use such a blended approach in order to create mutual respect, encourage local participation and build partnership for joint problem resolution. The goals are improved community well-being and thus more readily sustainable socio-economic development.

In concluding, the paper looks at the interaction between the two systems and some possible policy options. The paper as a whole sees itself as critical for contemporary policy makers, health providers and disseminators of health information among Sabaot.

Healing femininity - balancing energies

Author: Katerina Ferkov (University of Nova Gorica/Slovenian Academy of Arts and Sciences)  email
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Long Abstract

My previous two studies of females and femininity have confirmed a clear need for programs that aid women (and therefore men) in current living conditions with high level expectations and social control. During ongoing iterative participant observation between researcher and group of women and men in Slovenia at daily meditation I collected several family histories and personal body & mind health care issues. The challenges of contemporary living conditions clearly provoke a quest for balance between old patterns (family, material wealth) and new ones (ecology, self-development) for women and men as well as society. But most commonly standard medical practices do not assist women (and men) in conflicts they encounter, which are always complex and interwoven with their conflicting emotions and mind patterns. Currently there is a keen interest in integral, holistic approach towards healing. Since feminine aspect in consumerist environment is most suppressed and therefore the most potentially dangerous, there is a need to address this topic. Daily experience provided me with empirical data that the sole capacity to approach healing from energy principle is the basis of well being, but so far there is still various prejudice and skepticism, also scientific discursive orthodoxy present considering that approach. Therefore scientific evaluation of methods that support and motivate individuals to be aware of their energy level could foster collaboration between standard medical practices and energy science used in various techniques and methods of healing for balancing energies (for example: ayurveda, chi gong, yoga, tai chi, acupuncture, homeopathy).