Browsing articles in "Uncategorized"
Apr 28, 2012
asfit001

When culture evolves, who decides what is “authentic”?

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I just returned from India where I had the chance to attend an aarti ceremony along the Ganges River in Haridwar.  The ceremony is a Hindu ritual that involves the five elements – earth, water, fire, air, and ether – and, in some locations like Haridwar, is performed every evening at sunset.

As I had never been to this type of ceremony, I had few expectations and was just looking forward to an opportunity to learn more about Hinduism and Haridwar.  On the way to the ceremony, I met another visitor who claimed he was “skeptical” of the ceremony.  Though I was not particularly interested in his negativity, I was curious as to what made him skeptical of a ceremony that my hosts had described as “traditional”.  He explained that he had been to an aarti in another location and was told by a local that the ceremony had been introduced to that area by the tourism board, in an effort to increase tourism.

As we watched the crowd grow, the sun set, and the priests perform the ceremony, the man changed his tune.  He said he “felt better” about the experience; he believed that this was genuine.  Out of the hundreds – possibly thousands – of folks we passed by, stood next to, or spoke with, not one was a foreigner.  These people were not putting on a show to bring in foreign tourists.  They were practicing their religion and sharing the experience with others who had come to do the same.

I was, of course, left pondering some issues of cultural sustainability:

If it were true that a tourism board introduced the aarti to other locations, did it make the ceremony – practiced in the same tradition as others, such as in Haridwar – any less authentic?  Is the introduction of the aarti to new areas not, in some ways, actually an act of cultural sustainability?  Does it matter who introduced it, so long as the traditions are kept intact and respected?  Does not every tradition and ceremony have to start somewhere?  Does the attendance and/or participation of “outsiders” or foreigners in some way render the ceremony sacrilegious?

I am interested in hearing your thoughts!  Please share them in the comments section below.

Visit this site to learn a bit more about the aarti ceremony and it’s possible origins.

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Mar 30, 2012
asfit001

A resource for reporting on indigenous communities

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Check out Reporting in Indigenous Communities (RIIC), an online resource created by Duncan McCue.  Duncan is a professor at the University of British Columbia and a reporter for CBC’s The National.  He is also a member of the Chippewas of Georgina Island First Nation in southern Ontario. The RIIC website is a guide that aims to – as their tag line states – help “journalists tell better Indigenous news stories”, and may also serve as a good resource for anyone working with or in indigenous populations.

To learn more, take a look around the RIIC website and read The Canadian Journalism Project‘s article on Duncan, the RIIC, his reasons for creating it, and hopes for its applications.

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Mar 6, 2012
asfit001

Taking steps to safeguard endangered languages in Cambodia

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According to a recent article in the Phnom Penh Post, radio programming in indigenous languages is an important way to perpetuate the local languages while giving indigenous people “the opportunity to talk about their own culture on national radio…to be informed, to reinforce their pride, and to allow them to maintain some of their control over their traditions and their languages.”  Radio is particularly important to those languages – like many native to northeastern Cambodia – that do not have a writing system.

To read about a similar indigenous language perpetuation project in Guatemala, check out Cultural Survival’s Guatemala Radio Project.

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Feb 25, 2012
asfit001

Can cultural practices serve criminal populations in a positive way?

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Those in support of puuhonua wellness centers in Hawaii believe so.

Community Alliance on Prisons Coordinator Kat Brady explained in her testimony that we must find “alternative means to reintegrate people who have lost their way.”  Native Hawaiian culture may be one possible alternative.

A bill that would require the Department of Public Safety to plan for a model wellness center has just been passed with amendments, and moves on to be heard by the Ways and Means Committee on February 28, 2012.

If passed into law, SB3016 will allow for the creation of a wellness center – that employs Native Hawaiian cultural practices to the treatment of incarcerated individuals – and a work release program, on the Big Island.  Folks in support of this measure believe that this type of center and cultural programming can better serve to rehabilitate and reintegrate incarcerated Native Hawaiians.

You can read more about the proposed puuhonua center on Bloomberg Businessweek, Big Island Video News, and track the status of SB3601 on the Hawaii State Legislature website.

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Feb 21, 2012
asfit001

Celebrate Mother Language Day

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Not sure how to celebrate International Mother Language Day?  Cultural Survival has posted a great list of ways you can participate, today or any day.  Speak your own mother language, learn about a friend’s mother language, and check out Cultural Survival’s tips here: 5 Things You Can Do to Observe Mother Language Day

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Jan 31, 2012
asfit001

Opportunities!

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There are several exciting upcoming opportunities that MACSers and those involved in cultural sustainability would be perfect for, so I wanted to bring them all together here.  If you have others (job openings, internship opportunities, events, etc) you would like to add, please leave them in the comments section below or email them to me at asfit001@mail.goucher.edu and I will be happy to post them!

Smithsonian Folklife Festival:  The deadline for festival employment opportunities was listed as January 27th or “until positions are filled”, so I say GO FOR IT!  If you are interested in working with the folks at the Smithsonian Folklife Festive, you can find more information as well as application instructions here.

Mid Atlantic Folkarts Outreach Project: Opportunities for artists, communities, and folklorists to come together, connect, share ideas, and shape projects.  Deadlines depend on project.  You can find more information on the Project website.

National Museum of the American Indian:  Internship opportunities are currently available.  For internships beginning in June, a February 6th deadline has been set.  Please visit the NMAI Internships page for more details and information on requirements and deadlines.

Sandy Spring Museum:  The museum that our very own Stephanie Boyle works with is hosting a Valentine Show/Sale/Fundraiser on February 11th and 12th, entitled Love Notes.  Artist participants must register by February 10th.  For more information on how you can participate in this event, please visit the Sandy Spring Museum website.

Northwest Folklife: This Seattle-based non-profit “dedicated to the preservation and celebration of folk, ethnic, and traditional arts for present and future generations” is looking for a Marketing Manager.  There is currently no deadline for application.  You can find out more about this position and how to apply for this great opportunity by visiting the Regional Arts & Culture Council website.

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Jan 20, 2012
asfit001

Center for Social Entrepreneurship

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Middlebury College has announced the launch of a Center For Social Entrepreneurship.  The Center will incorporate three programs – grants, a lecture series and training workshops – all aimed at helping students lead action-based initiatives designed to address some of the challenges that our world is facing.  College President Ronald D. Liebowitz was quoted as saying that the center “will aspire to be a world leader in social change…It will offer young people and their allies an opportunity to take on the world’s toughest 21st-century challenges and make a difference.”

The Center’s first symposium will be held at Middlebury this month, from January 25th through 27th.  For more information on the symposium and other upcoming activities, programs, and grant opportunities, please visit the Middlebury College website.

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Dec 30, 2011
asfit001

“I believe that writers, and not politicians, can bring about ethnic reconciliation and lasting peace in Sri Lanka”

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These are the words of Abdul Karim Razak, better known as Memon Kavi. He is a man of Muslim Pakstani descent who is making his mark as a Tamil poet and writer.  In fact, he is the only Tamil litterateur in the world who is from the Memon community.

In spite of the potential difficuties of being an “outsider” to the Tamil literary community, Memon Kavi has earned great respect, praise, and even awards for his work.

You can read more about Memon Kavi in this article from Dawn.com.

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Dec 23, 2011
asfit001

Native American language achievements

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This article from Indian Country Today Media Network highlights some of the 2011 Native American achievements of revitalization and preservation efforts.  It is encouraging to see such success.  Let’s hope 2012 brings even more reasons to celebrate and more support to those who are working hard to sustain and revitalize Native languages!

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Dec 23, 2011

Pa’i ‘ai

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Take a look at MACS student Sunny Fitzgerald’s excellent Cultural Survival article on the cultural and food safety issues around this important Hawaiian staple!

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Goucher's MA in Cultural Sustainability provides students with the training to identify, protect, enhance and work effectively with communities around what makes them unique: their traditions, ways of life, cherished spaces, and vital relationships to each other and the world. Read More

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