1. Lost in Translation? Development versus Tradition - OJW Melbourne

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    Proudly appearing as part of the Melbourne Writers Festival's Big Ideas Series Around the world today there is devastating poverty, disadvantage and inequality. As conscientious and caring global citizens, NGO’s and individuals swoop into the developing world to provide assistance, support and relief to those in need. Yet while many positive outcomes have been achieved in the delivery of aid programs, there are also ripple effects which can prove devastating to those who are supposed to be benefitting – people whose culture is often crucial to their sense of identity. The introduction of formal education, new languages, foods, religions, societal structures and cash-economies can bring serious changes to the cultural fabric of communities. Indigenous dialects are often lost, and with them thousands of years of stories, history and traditions; religion might be diluted and substituted with Western ideologies and beliefs; traditional dress and diet can become outdated as foreign influence sways local style and taste buds; and communities often become divided by changed status, wealth, influence, shifting values, beliefs and priorities. So how do we know where to draw the line? What constitutes positive change in the face of extreme poverty, starvation and inequality? And how can we ensure that such change is possible without causing very old languages and beliefs, traditions and kinship to vanish? Are development and culture mutually exclusive or can communities reap the benefits of development while still preserving their cultural identity?

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