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Friday, February 9 • 2:45pm - 4:00pm
Durkheim and Difficulties with Development: A Case Study with the Himba

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For the Himba tribe of rural Namibia tradition and encroaching modernization often butt heads. As globalization brings the even the most rural reaches of the world closer together through technology and economic relationships, many traditional tribes struggle to survive, much less thrive, amongst the increasing change and outside influence. For the Himba, pressures to modernize from their government have made their traditional semi-nomadic pastoralism almost impossible. However, many Himba, especially the older generations, have no desire to change their traditional way of life- even if it is not sustainable for their culture. Meanwhile, many Himba children and young adults leave their small region of Otutati to pursue education or work in factories in far away cities. Many Himba families are divided between these two ideologies- even sending some children to school with the intention to qualify for modern jobs and then contrarily keeping others at home to maintain their traditions and practices. This divide is comparable to Durkheim’s Division of Labour and him theory on mechanical and organic solidarity. A conflict between the choice of commitment to tradition or modernization, often times just floundering between the two, is an example of a society stuck between mechanical and organic solidarity. Through the lives of women who split their children among school and home, the singular economic development of the local bar owner, and the efforts of the Namibian government to enforce new rules and programs onto the tribal Himba, this difficult divide is apparent. Globalization and the attempt to modernize traditional cultures have caused issues in cultures across the globe. So often culture and tradition are not considered when foundation or Non-Profit Organizations attempt to “improve” life for tribes. The Himba are an important example of the difficulties of forced modernization or “progress” for traditional cultures. To understand these issues can give great insight into how to better push for development in ways that benefit and protect traditional cultures throughout the liminal period.

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Friday February 9, 2018 2:45pm - 4:00pm
Great Hall Conference Center

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