THE CULTURAL PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT: Some impressions of anthropologists working in development

THE CULTURAL PROCESS OF DEVELOPMENT: Some impressions of anthropologists working in development

Helena Jerman
University of Helsinki, Institute of Development Studies

The responsibility of researchers to spread their research findings, thereby giving local voices a wider hearing, is often emphasized in seminars among social scientists who have had the opportunity of working in ‘developing’ countries. This argument is also found in workshops intending to promote a dialogue between anthropology, international politics and development.2 Two examples will suffice here. A Seminar on Culture and Development in Southern Tanzania brought together researchers from Tanzania3 and the Nordic countries to discuss interpretations on economic development and cultural change in contrast to ‘a simple externalist view of the southern regions as a location of passivity and apathy’.4 It is assumed that empirical research in a similar context must be connected to a participatory process. The task of the Council for Development and Assistance Studies established by the Uppsala University is to promote dialogue between academic researchers and professionals in the field of development cooperation. The chief aim of the Council is to be a bridge between academics and practitioners in order to tap knowledge and resources and in this way create a more efficient development cooperation. The Council operates by arranging seminars and workshops.5

An abundance of books and articles on development and culture during the past years have emphasized a culture-sensitive approach in development cooperation.6 Moreover, by emphasizing that people develop themselves and not the other way around, that they cannot be developed,7 it is suggested that research into local culture is one of the most important implications for participatory development. Participation means that development should involve all the stakeholders who are part of a development process.8 I will return to this point below.


Recent approaches to culture in the context of development policy and development work

Culture is a topical word in contemporary development discourse.9 It bears noting that, similarly, the notions of race and ethnicity reappeared as theoretical challenges for academics since politicians and media workers have re-introduced them in connection with national and international conflicts. This section examines mainly how culture is conceptualized in the UNESCO 1995 document Our Creative Diversity. A few examples illustrate recent approaches to a cultural dimension in various fields within this context.

It can be safely stated that a view on culture as ‘an all inclusive phenomenon’ is the most frequent denominator for innumerable definitions of the concept. This pertains specifically to definitions of culture when trying to find a place for it in the development process. An understanding of culture in this wider sense, in contrast to its narrow idea as the ‘arts’, implies more commonality than difference in the content of how it is formulated by anthropologists, on the one hand, or defined by practitioners of development policy on the other hand.10 Admittedly, social scientists including anthropologists themselves, often refer to the ‘anthropological notion of culture’ when dealing with the cultural dimension of development.11 They do this emphasizing the continuity of culture from one generation to the next. Basically, the ‘anthropological’ notion of culture is associated with the definition of ‘civilization or culture’ introduced by Edward B. Tylor in 1871. Accordingly, culture includes all social expressions of the human being as a member of society. 


Our Creative Diversity, a document issued in 1995 by UNESCO for the UN decade for culture and development (1988-1997), can be given much credit for the present discussion on culture within the field of international development cooperation. The UNESCO report advocates two ideas of culture. Firstly, culture is said to encompass all aspects of life. Secondly, culture refers to the meaning of a people when it refers to ‘cultures’. The concern for culture in relation to development, as presented in the UNESCO document, can be summarized by the view that the neglect of culture in the first sense within ‘cultures’ in the second sense ‘has caused development efforts to fail’.12 According to Our Creative Diversity, the two definitions on culture should form the basis for the development of a global ethics and development policy. The document juxtaposes pluralism and tolerance alongside a universal global ethic.

Although few anthropologists13 have noticed Our Creative Diversity, a number of projects from other fields have found the report’s ideas apt for their purposes. This is understandable because of two reasons.

First, the visions of a new ethical world outlined in the report, suggests that culture is ‘constructive, constitutive and creative’. In this respect, Jesus Alcalà’s (a Swedish lawyer) expression, quoted in the Nordiska Afrikainstitutet’s (NAI) comments on Our Creative Diversity is succinct and deserves to be reiterated: ‘When it comes to human rights I am a fundamentalist’. The universality of the global ethics, according to NAI, consists of ‘ways to counteract the tendency to effectively erode the international agreements that already exist’.14

Second, the definitions of culture presented in the UNESCO report provide a satisfying account of approaches to a cultural dimension in various fields, be it politics or development cooperation. One could even state that the document provides options. Hence, it suggests that culture - taken as a broad concept - can be comprehended ‘as a way of life’ or ‘understood as the basis of development’.15 In this second sense of culture, the plural form of culture, cultures are countries or states or people. Although the document quite rightly observes that cultures are changing and do not have sharp borders, - the document admits the existence of hundreds of million of distinct groups measured by their local language in the world.16 In Africa alone they number over 25 million people.17

Two examples suffice here to illustrate my point about the ideal premises of the two basic ideas of the report - the need for a global ethics and the importance of cultural pluralism as a value in its own right. One is from the field of linguistics and the other from the field of development policy studies.

In her key-note speech on linguistic and cultural identity18 in a seminar on language politics in relation to principles and practice in development cooperation (1998), Tove Skutnabb-Kangas referred to Our Creative Diversity in presenting her arguments on linguistic human rights as an essential dimension of human rights. Considering that ‘linguistic diversity is today disappearing much faster than biological diversity’; the fact that almost half of the world’s approximately 7, 000 oral languages are no longer being learnt by children today suggests linguisiticide at a fast pace.19 Clearly, a suppression of minority languages, for example through the policy of assimilation or, in extreme cases, through genocide, has to do with global moral, ethics and human rights.

Suggesting that ‘(L)linguistic and cultural identity are at the core of cultures of most ethnic groups’ Skutnabb-Kangas and Phillipson state that absence or denial of linguistic and cultural rights promote conflict and violence.20 Despite multiple fundamental causes such as material and/or structural ones to linguistic suppression, conflicts and wars are labelled as ‘ethnic’. 

A recent report Culture in Finnish Development Cooperation (1998) states as its main purpose:

To provide the Department21with an independent view and analysis of the role of culture as a quality factor in Finnish development cooperation and to provide an overall assessment of cultural aspects in selected projects, as well as to estimate whether the goals and policies of Finland’s cooperation attach sufficient significance to the culture in development.22

The authors use culture in the broad sense by taking Our Cultural Diversity as its starting-point. As a result of the UNESCO report, the Finnish project also refers to ‘cultures’. The writers seek legitimacy for using culture in a wide sense from anthropology by claiming that ‘culture is its own perspective and implies its own values and its own imperatives for action.’23 Hence the authors quoted extensively from UNESCO's report, A Cultural Approach to Development (1997),24 which states that culture is an ‘anthropological truth’. Such a strategy is understandable and is often used also by political scientists, policy makers and media workers. Why delve into something that is ‘everywhere and everything’. Culture is after all the central domain of anthropologists who should take the responsibility of scrutinizing the elusive concept. The authors provide insights into the ‘dynamics of multicultural work and intercultural communication’ by referring to the project studies analyzing cooperation in three counterpart countries (Ethiopia, Mozambique and Vietnam) from both the perspective of these countries and from a Finnish one. Another approach was to compare particular aspects of these cultures which were considered to be relevant for the Finnish project.

From an anthropological point of view the conclusions do not bring new knowledge as to the role of culture in development. They merely reiterate that culture is an asset, diversity is reality, knowledge of colonial history is a must for development workers and environmental questions are culture bound. From the point of view of the new ‘culture agenda’ of development cooperation’25 in Finland the conclusions confirm, however, a number of outspoken recommendations by social scientists. Thus, the success of development work depends specifically, according to the experience gained from this Finnish project, on skilful intercultural communication, flexibility and training.

Working with the anthropological notion of culture poses problems when it comes to managing it. It is therefore not surprising that the authors of Culture in Finnish Development Cooperation write: ‘Throughout our study, several experts and aid managers have expressed the need to know more about how cultural aspects should be taken into account in real life situations’.26 This concern is also reflected in the comments of the teams of the counterpart countries. The Vietnamese team, for example, found the cultural dimension approach ‘the hardest part of the study’.27 

A recent study of the impact of Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) projects, derived largely from evaluation reports prepared in more than ten countries, as well as the methods used in assessing impact may, in its own way, be an example of the emphasis on culture in contemporary development discourse. The extensive report Searching for Impact and Methods. NGO Evaluation Synthesis Study which was prepared for the OECD/DAC Expert Group on Evaluation in 1997 does not refer to the concept of culture, which could have been included in the project paradigm and given a definition. However, a report on methods used in the evaluation of projects of Finnish NGOs, based on data from sixty evaluations reports, pays attention to the cultural dimension. The author records that eleven reports evaluated the sensitivity and understanding of the project initiators. In the majority of these cases ‘no attention had been paid to the cultural context or local customs’.28 


Anthropology and culture

Earlier, I showed the distinction between culture as a ‘whole’ and that of entities, of many ‘cultures’. It is, however, now common to conflate this second view of culture with the notion of representation, that is self-identity and self-representation. Like the colonial practice, culture is identified with both race and ethnicity. The anthropologist Jonathan Friedman illustrates this position with an apt example worth quoting: ‘The way people play rummy in a particular fishing village need not have anything to do either with self-identity or with the way others identify them’.29 On the contrary, people have alternative sources of identification. My study on the development of ethnicity in the Bagamoyo district in Tanzania showed, for example, that people included political considerations in their reflections upon their ethnic consciousness. The dynamics of culture and its meaning for people must be distinguished from meanings given to it by the official administration. At the same time Steven Feierman’s argument that ‘the wider world is not external to the local community; it is at the heart of the community’s internal processes of differentiation’30 is very relevant.31

With the end of European colonialism, radical political and economic changes took place in the newly independent states in Africa. A new type of anthropology emerged. This anthropology was blended with history and political economy. Analytically, at the ethnographic level scientists rejected tribe or ethnic group as the basic unit of study.32 The ‘new’ sense of culture implied that culture is a phenomenal process. It is possible to insert a number of ideas within this sense of culture - from meanings of significance to ‘contestation over the power to define key concepts, including that of culture itself’.33 What is clear is that culture is not a ‘thing’. Interestingly, anthropologists have in recent years increasingly questioned the notion of culture as a useful concept. In a number of cases anthropologists have even proposed a demise of the concept.34


Culture and development is not an either or: Experiences of anthropologists

‘I do have a comment on the culture concept itself. I once worked for the World Bank. It was around 1990-1991. I wrote a large report together with three people from the Agricultural University of Norway. We travelled to six different countries: Mauritania, Senegal, Mali, Niger, the Central African Republic and Kenya. Three Norwegians and myself. It was very interesting. Among a rural economist, an administrator, and an economist .. I was the only cultural anthropologist. 

And in the middle of the desert in Mali we sat arguing, amongst the Tuaregs, and the three Norwegians say:’ No Mette, people don't want culture, they want development!’ And I shouted back: No, people want development but they have culture. ... The discussions we had! ... I talked much about culture and cultural values and cultural systems and they talked about development. /They said/ we must set the wheels rolling. 'Structural adjustment' was about to start in the World Bank as a concept and I was very critical. Culture and development. It is not either culture or development - but it is both and, I say so in all discussions. 

But anthropologists are often considered conservative: ' You anthropologists, you don't want development - you think about traditional cultures, the static.’ But that is not the case. Because we study processes and change, cultural change, all the time. That is what we think ourselves.’

This was how the anthropologist Mette Bovin presented her view on the role of culture in development work.35 Arja Vainio-Mattila, once asked rhetorically: ‘Who ever talked about culture ten years ago - or even five years ago’.36 If during the late 1990s, attitudes towards development anthropologists have changed for the better, the above ideas may serve as an illustration for a number of anthropologists who, during the past ten years, have been recruited as social scientists by UN organizations, NGOs, bilateral organizations, consultancy companies and academical institutions.37 Their work assignments in sectors such as forestry, national resource management, health and water supply, or in cross-sectoral issues such as the gender or participatory development, have lasted for shorter or longer periods when sandwiched with research and lecturing work in the academic world. 

Examples of development planners' and development workers' ignorance of local culture, which have had devastating repercussions on the local level, can be multiplied.38 On the other hand, there are discernible changes, not only with respect to attitudes towards anthropologists in development work or even research. If ten years ago there was only one social scientist in the team taking care of something that was perceived to be a minor component of the project, the socio-cultural aspects are, more recently, frequently seen as the context within which the rest of the project takes place. Although an important shift in acknowledging this change has taken place, there is also vocal resistance to this idea of the continuity of culture in development.39 

Some common observations of the role of the anthropologist in development work 

In the 1980s, there was an increased demand for anthropologists40 both in Sweden41 and in Denmark in the context of international development cooperation. SIDA was interested in recruiting anthropologists for its projects and programmes because a shift towards rural development took place within the organization during the mid 1970s. Researchers in Finland became interested in applied anthropology,42 albeit on a small scale. In 1987, DANIDA, for example, first demanded that the engineering consultancy company Krüger should employ an anthropologist or a sociologist to evaluate a project on hydraulics in Niger. The evaluation team consisted of a water engineer, an economist, a lawyer and an anthropologist. Thanks to the anthropologist, DANIDA learnt that there were nomads in addition to agriculturalists in Niger. But the damage was already done. Without DANIDA's knowledge, nomads had been chased away from wells during the 1984-85 drought in the Sahel where they earlier had had the right to grow vegetables. The attitude of the chief of the mission, an engineer, towards a social and cultural dimension in general and towards the anthropologist in specific became clear in the evaluation report. He suggested that if the proposed well were to be built it was for the anthropologist.43 

In this case, the idea that culture is an obstacle to development was extended to that of the anthropologist as an obstacle. A further example, from Sudan, is illustrative: The anthropologist, the only social scientist on the team, was sent out into the villages with the task to find out what trees people preferred to plant while the rest of the team stayed in Khartoum. The anthropologist came after three weeks and reported in a large meeting what kind of trees people desired. More than ten foresters then declared in unison: ’But those are not trees, you know!’ Immediately the problem became that of the anthropologist.44

Companies who employ social scientists for missions rarely have a clear understanding of what this person does or should do within a development project.45 A common view is that the anthropologist is the person who will assist the programme ‘from an anthropological perspective’, by addressing social rather that technical aspects of the programme or the project. It is anticipated that an anthropologist should take care of the ‘soft’ elements of the project. A diffuse task, this can imply many things. The anthropologist reports, for example, on the division of labour in an area or why cultivators prefer a special crop. In the latter case, the anthropologist collaborates with an agronomist on the project.

' Social' implies, in short, everything which has to do with the people in an area be it knowledge about use of fuel or local markets. Arguably, this is a peculiar attitude because all professionals in a project should have a knowledge about people living in an area.46 

An anthropologist is expected to give answers to certain questions which should lead to action: drill a well, form a water group. There are certain requirements to be followed. SIDA requires, for example, that as a rule there should be 50 per cent women in a water group.47 Although development organizations and companies have recently acknowledged that culture is integrated in all activities, the concern about how the cultural dimension or cultural aspects should be taken in account in practice is still a hard nut to crack in a number of cases.

Culture is not a constraint for anthropologists

Evidently, anthropologists have entered development work when development organizations and companies acknowledged that things did not work out, according to expectations, because of cultural factors. An early example will illustrate this: An evaluation team consisting of water engineers, a geographer, and an anthropologist were supposed to evaluate the popularity of manual and pedal water pumps and how they were used. How solar panels function was also a task. It appeared that the solar panels were too heavy to transport, were of poor quality, too expensive and did not store enough heat for evening meals. However, while, especially, manual pumps functioned, the problem was it was considered indecent for the women. They were teased because of the way the pumping was done. This cultural factor, as a 'minor' thing, resulted in the refusal of adult married women to fetch water from the pumps. Fetching was instead carried out by either young girls who had not reached puberty or by divorced women. An engineer had not thought of this factor.48 It goes without saying that the water project lacked both the facility to communicate with local people and a participatory approach.

It is, however, symptomatic, that a contemporary anthropologist, fifteen years after her debut in development work, exclaims that: 

‘I have never yet seen a solar cooker that people can either afford or has a life span of any significance ... those technical solutions are so complicated ... the same thing /can/ practically be accomplished by just having a basket. You start boiling your porridge and then you put it in a basket and let it stand and you are safer and cheaper.’49

A reluctance to work with people, the subjects of the development process, in their own environment is why development lacks social and cultural contextualization.

Anthropologists working as advisors within development organizations seldom have problems in conceptualizing culture as such. The frameworks of 'research' offered by development organizations does not allow an in-depth analysis. On the other hand, it is acknowledged that there is, sometimes, an unnecessary gap between applied anthropology and academic anthropology, with the gap varying among differences in research policies of different universities. Kristina Bohman50 suggests that an academic anthropologist very often has full personal control of her research results and conducts an argument about the results with other academic colleagues whereas a development anthropologist has the role of a

‘facilitator - you do not work exploiting knowledge from other people and write up a thesis of it. You think that you have something to contribute which can in some way start a process. The significance of a process is that people will reach some insight what is good for them. That is good. That is Chambers' idea. Then, maybe it does not function very much in reality. Maybe it will not make a breakthrough. But the attitude is democratic...’ .

The difficult concept of culture, 'it is everything or nothing,' culture has to be understood in a very wide sense. It is not a specific sector of society. At the same time it is easy to say that culture is about values, institutions and practices because people apparently act out of cultural norms and values. The way one relates to somebody has to do with culture. What is very important is to make an attempt to understand the dynamics of social relationships in the environment within which a project takes place. Peoples' social relations are manifested in supports and constraints within a 'web'51 of the development intervention. Since culture is integrated in society and social development, it must be made manageable. Culture is heterogeneous, dynamic and holistic.52


Methods and orientation: anthropologists' choices 

An anthropologist is, at best, commonly identified as a social or cultural resource manager of development work. Given the wide conceptualization of culture, anthropologists are, ideally, relatively independent to define their own contribution. This means that an anthropologist finds out the methods her/himself. An example may illustrate this approach. If a government plans to organize cooperatives the anthropologist analyses the plan. What implications are there when the plan is taken down to a local level? In other words, how will the plan change? Will it be modified? Some conditions will be appropriate, others will not. Cooperatives require, for example, cooperation. Is that possible in the specific circumstances?53 

In other words, the work of the anthropologist brings in an additional element to the project, that of anticipation. Much work done by the anthropologist is anticipatory in nature. Her/his anthropological experience help her/him to ‘anticipate potential, both negative and positive changes, and if you, for example, have a well done cultural analysis from the beginning, it also helps you to anticipate conflicts. So that you can address them before they become conflicts’.54

Cultural factors are seldom integrated in development strategies. Anthropologists assume, and have to assume, that if they are asked to become members of the team it is because of their involvement in culture research or participatory development. However, their task in working as interpreters between social scientists and technocrats is not a guarantee for constructive actions. Evidently, there is a hope of transforming strategies into action if the anthropologist is the team leader of a project or if the manager of a programme is a social scientist. In these cases, the anthropologist builds the conceptual framework for the project or programme.


Training and participation

A new generation of development administrators and managers have contributed, through existing development studies programmes,55 to a critical perspective on administration and management within the development context. Yet, the important shift of regarding socio-cultural aspects as the context within which the rest of a project takes place is far from universal. Evidently, it is still difficult to convince those in power, who represent the 'old school', and who ‘regard themselves to have the knowledge that is necessary’,56 that there is, for instance, a need for training.

The main long-term benefit of a development programme is seldom exactly what has been defined in the project document if participatory training is included as a method of appraisal. The Ethiopian rural water supply and environmental programme, which emphasized participation at all levels, is an illustrative example of this argument:

‘I suspect that the wells that they have been able to build ... although they have exceeded the original target in terms of numbers (anybody could have been building those wells and the skill to build wells was already there) ... that is not going to be the long-term impact of this programme. It is going to be the fact that they have trained literally thousands of people in community planning. And wherever those people go they will have had this experience and they will know that there are ways in which their voice will count. /As to/ conventional evaluation mission ... they would not even ask, you know, the question of what the impacts of this programme would truly have been in the surrounding area.’57 

The advancement of a specific project should be formulated at the local level. Also, training for a specific task occasionally begins with a pilot study. A project concerning women and drinking water in Ethiopia was preceded by a study of the situation of women. Ethiopian women chose themselves later a water project. The women were trained at all levels, from assembling and repairing water- pipes to desk work on financial questions. The project team, which included Ethiopian water engineers, adapted itself and the project to the training programme. Eventually, the women managed successfully to take care of the whole project. With the change of state regime in 1991 many development projects were destroyed. It is symptomatic that this particular project was saved from destruction since it was considered a local one.58 

The aims of a development project can only be mutually shared through a participatory approach. One cannot talk about communication between people without including participation: ‘Cultural constraints have nothing to do with people who are there - it's the people who are coming there. Who are the constraint!’59 Communicating with functionaries, ministries and leaders in the capital is not enough. An insight into local management practices requires participation.

Evidently, anthropologists who are supposed to take care of the 'social', have had to apologize on the part of ignorant development agents. The following example may be too heavy to digest but it is nevertheless true. During a period of ten years of a project, the Nordic development agent had not once greeted the local authorities residing in the area where drilling of wells happened.60 

The importance of the participatory idea shows itself in practice. Building of so-called improved stoves61 in Bura in Kenya (1986) is a good example of where the users of the stoves where involved from the beginning of the project. This meant that the product depended completely on resources that people already had: sun, water and cow dung. Any kind of material that had to be purchased was rejected. Accordingly, the training process implied a transferring of skills from one user to the next. Since people had access to the resources, there was an evident reason to go ahead with the process - by 1992 almost every household had one of these stoves.62


Culture and participation are integrated

Culture sensitive programmes address the issue of culture through research. A project that makes one of its long-term development goals the strengthening of the local culture concerned emphasizes people's own perceptions of their situation. At the same time, it bears noting that there are hierarchies everywhere, from the top to the bottom. A decision about a project should be made in agreement with all the stakeholders. Eva Poluha (1998)63 hits the head on the nail in saying: ‘They come from the water committee and ask, do you want water and nobody says no to water if asked, but water might not be the priority /in this specific case/.’

Voices from all the categories or groups must be heard. It is therefore wrong to talk about a target group because then the 'recipients of aid' are turned into the objects, instead of being the subjects, of development. 


The methods used by an anthropologist working in development work are based on anthropological experience. However, the work itself has little to do with anthropology since, due to time limits, it is frequently impossible to carry through a full analysis of detailed field research. However, the undertakings of an anthropologist are imperative. A non-anthropologist does not make the same choices in monitoring or evaluating a development cooperation project in the same way as an anthropologist. In order to explain, analyze or even describe the social and cultural impacts of an 'intervention', namely what anthropologists need to be able to anticipate, it is not enough to have experience of life in the society concerned.

Admittedly, there is clearly a difference in the work time needed for whether one carries out an evaluation or a study. One week’s report writing after four weeks of fieldwork results in a shallow report, usually an ethnographical description with little attempt at interpretation or analysis.

On the other hand, the original intention of fieldwork might be a preliminary investigation or description. The Minor Field Study (MFS) Programme in Sweden64 is an illustrative example. The purpose of this programme ‘is to provide an opportunity for direct contact and an initial experience in the application of theoretical and methodological skills to practical problems and issues’.65 These studies form the first experience of development work for a student - who normally does not know the local language of the area s/he will visit since it lasts only about two months.66 There is seldom any feed-back from these studies. The minor fieldwork studies are considered to be ‘an experience to see what it is all about’ for the students rather than establishing training for local people in a specific project or programme. Occasionally, results from these studies are useful: ‘If there are relevant results the idea is that /these post -graduate students/ will be able to contribute their experience to SIDA.’67

The previously mentioned observation about the technical component as the context of a project is also very critical with respect to the time factor.

‘And then we have the development as a component of this technical implementation. And then there is not enough time. Because you have to do all this social stuff to fit the implementation. The time table is very tight and technical and very straightforward. But once you start changing that around then I think we are closer to solving this issue.’68 

Consultancy tasks, it is reported, suffer from their short duration:

‘We /the appraisal team/ were 10-11 days there and visited 25 villages. Quick and dirty! ... I am slow and clean, I use to say. That is what we are, we anthropologists, we go to depth. Quick and dirty. That is indefensible ... What can you do during two hours in a rural village? And talk to three persons? You will not reach depths. ... Must it be so very difficult? It is so expensive. The experts are expensive - the engineer consultancy companies. They would like to do it in 8-10 days. But NN has 'fought' for it and now, it is occasionally 15-20 days instead. That is better.’69 

Local evaluators or local appraisal workers are rare and should be involved in evaluation:

‘That was a different mission (in 1998). There was a Danish sociologist and an expert from Niger. That was a progress ... that you take people from the local level to be equal with our Nordic people. Absolutely.’70 

This means that time is not always the primary factor for the success of an external evaluation or appraisal. It is desirable that all the parties should be capable of developing internal monitoring instead. 


Aspects of politicization of culture

We face some potential pitfalls when we choose the concept of culture as a synonym for society/societies. Culture and society are frequently used as synonyms in the UNESCO document and, as such, are given a political content.

Skutnabb-Kangas, in an anthropological sense, addressed cultural rights as rights of ethnic groups, cultural minorities or people. Without belittling the idea that cultural and linguistic rights in this sense means human rights, the view that the world is made up of fixed entities i.e. ’peoples’, each with a coherent culture, as the UNESCO report recommends (p. 21) lies at the heart of the issue of cultural diversity. What is missing from this view is the dynamic dimension of culture, more specifically the process of contestation of the meanings given to it. Evidently the actors in this contestation have been/are self-appointed decision makers such as anthropologists or administrators. This means that those in power define groups according to different criteria. Ultimately their objectivization of specific ‘cultures’ has been used by the ‘people’ themselves, such as the researched people or the target group, who in their turn participate to construct and reconstruct their everyday life as ‘culture’ as a homogeneous and closed group.

Evidently, the phenomenon called ethnicity manifests itself through culture or people manipulating culture for gaining social and economic ends. There is an abundance of examples from all over the world, - from colonial to present times - of how specific historical conditions powerfully shape the cultural form taken by ethnicity. The Kayapo in Brazil, for example, became famous in this way and used their contested identity in negotiations with those in power.71

Ethnic groups, analogous to nations, are imagined communities. What is tricky, is the existence of the group itself. How do people perceive ethnicity and maintain, create and recreate identities.72 In this respect it is worth mentioning Hobsbawm’s suggestion that ethnic phenomena should be regarded as dual phenomena.73 When constructed from above, ethnic phenomena, he says, ‘cannot be understood unless also analyzed from below.’ This means that it is important to analyze how ordinary people, and not the élite or national activists, perceive and express ethnicity. In a functional dimension, I suggest, the people as imaginers of ethnicity, are social actors, subjects of historical happenings.74 It is important to note that ethnic distinctions operating in, for example, Africa today must be essentially seen as a rather recent phenomenon, emanating from the colonial period, but ethnic labels and cultural symbols in the more recent context have nominally a pre-colonial origin whatever fundamental change in form and function they have undergone. This means that people belonged to a number of social organizations. Admittedly, the name of Chagga or Nkoya stems without doubt from pre-colonial times. A political dimension might also have been associated with it. There is, however, no evidence that there was a group of many thousands of people in pre-colonial times who today are claimed to be Chagga or Nkoya and who in the late colonial period were involved in various tribal associations. 

This argument suggests a politicization of culture. As long as politics is about power, ethnicity will be one of the resources politicians use to obtain it.75 A similarity between this phenomenon in present time and power in colonial society is conspicuous. Besides, there is much evidence that ethnicity is the main resource because of its strong emotional appeal. Sithole, in the context of Zimbabwe, suggests that the task ahead is to moderate and manage ethnicity, in short to legitimize it. The question is then about how to accommodate ethnicity in the structures of power.

Common ethnic group notions define ethnic groups similarly to what is done in anthropological dictionaries. Social and cultural criteria such as common descent, common language, distinguish one group from another in a society. These definitions fill the criteria which were required to delineate a ‘tribe’ within the colonial framework. In other words, we need perceptions of what constitutes an ethnic group. A person has multiple identities. Who decides which identity is relevant in which situation? Should ethnicity be one’s primary identity in all circumstances?

The anthropologist Eva Poluha maintains that in an Ethiopian context, for example, people have other forms of association beside ethnic group affiliations. Depending on the context, identities deriving from these associations, may predominate. She questions the wisdom of identifying ethnic groups with political parties in Ethiopia. There is evidence that, very seldom will all those who share the same identity join the same party. Poluha, accordingly, fears it will be impossible to ‘ethnify’ and promote democracy in Ethiopia at the same time.76

Admittedly, the UNESCO report displays a contradiction between the encouragement of respecting all cultural values of respective ethnic groups of the world and suggesting that only ‘cultures’ that have tolerant values should be respected by a global code.77 How then can all the world’s ‘cultures’ form the basis for an universal ethic? The Norwegian anthropologist Arne M. Klausen78 is right when stating that ‘the idea of right and wrong is universal’. However, the ideas of what is right and wrong, are not universal.

The UNESCO report states that ‘the world consists of 10,000 distinct societies in 200 states’ (it occasionally equates culture with a country or people). A table on Linguistic diversity79 in the UNESCO report shows for example that the ‘main language’ in Tanzania (obviously Swahili) is spoken by at most 35 per cent of the national population. This is a false picture about the language situation in Tanzania. Evidently, Swahili was widely spread in Tanzania already during the late pre-colonial period. It served as the language of administration during the German colonial period and during the British native administration. Comparing the table published in the UNESCO report with data presented by the Tanzanian researcher, Seleman S. Sewangi,80 Swahili, which is not the language one has learned first and identifies with, is spoken by roughly 90 per cent of the population. The number of 12781 spoken languages in Tanzania is almost identical to the official number of 126 ethnic groups. Mette Bovin has written of Nigeria, where 413 languages have been recorded,82 that:

‘In Nigeria there were 125 different ethnic groups officially in 1964 when I carried out my first field work there. In 1997 the official figure was some 250 ethnic and language groups (ironically enough just the double compared with the figure of 1964). Some Nigerian scholars even count as many as 378 ethnic and language groups in the Federal Republic of Nigeria today.’83

For both Tanzania and Nigeria, it seems that the official number of ethnic groups corresponds to the number of languages in the particular country, thereby reflecting an association between language and ethnicity as well as a connection between language, ethnicity and political and demographical circumstances. Thus, according to M. Guthrie, Zulu and Lukosa in South Africa can from a purely linguistically point of view be defined as two dialects, similarly to the position of the Nyamwezi and Sukuma in Tanzania.84 J.S la Fontaine wrote about tribalism in his anthropological study of the Gisu of Uganda. This people was not united by a common language and rituals ‘rather they are united when opposed to non-Gisu and represent this by reference to language and culture’.85 A succinct example from Europe is the Serbo Croatian language which officially ceased to exist a few years ago because of political reasons, ‘splitting’ into two languages.

In sum, culture in the meaning of ethnicity, when identified with a social community, is the most common way to politicize the concept. In this same way, it is possible to politicize innumerable other social groups in the name of culture. Such a conceptualization of culture implies furthermore a homogeneity of groups. In the following I will suggest that culture as a phenomenon is multiple. This implies, among other things that ‘the people’ are not an undifferentiated mass. First of all, however, I will briefly examine culture as a set of socio-cultural factors, by following the approach of Arne Martin Klausen's elaboration of the concept.


Culture or socio-cultural factors

The UNESCO planning manual A Cultural Approach to Development and the report Culture in Finnish Development Cooperation both refer to Klausen’s idea of culture. Klausen’s report Socio-Cultural Factors in Development Assistance86 presents four different usages of culture. Klausen elaborates on two usages, the cognitive aspect of culture, which determines socio cultural factors, and, the sectoral concept of culture, which determines culture. The expression cultural dimension is used as a common reference to both perspectives. According to Klausen, these two types of culture, when added to a third type of a group’s way of life, are vital tools for understanding social complexities. A similar understanding of culture was recently reached by the 45 Nordic academic members of the Conference on Culture, Cultural Research and Culture Policy.87 

Whereas culture in a sectoral sense is a limited, institutional sector of society, the cognitive aspect of culture,88 consisting of socio cultural factors, should, according to Klausen, be promoted and 'operationalized' within the context of development assistance. Socio-cultural factors are in Klausen’s words described as a kind of essential qualitative meaning, covering the topics of four organizations in a given society, namely the economic organization, the social organization, the political organization and the cognitive and expressive organization.89 In sum, Klausen’s main message in this respect is, that culture is not a sector of life but can be found as an aspect in every sector.

In his critical comments on some aspects of the UNESCO report, Klausen returns to the above-mentioned cognitive concept of culture. He writes that: 

‘culture is the set of ideas, values, norms and communicative means that a group shares, has received from the previous generation and tries to convey to the next generation, transformed in varying degrees by internal innovations and cultural contact with other groups.’90

Klausen finds it important to make a difference between the terms society and culture - something the UNESCO report, according to him, does not. His definition of society is: ‘various units people can belong to outside of the nuclear family’ the nation, for example, or a religious community. In this definition then, culture is seen as the content of an unit, the society. 

Unfortunately, culture in Klausen’s definition seems inseparable from society in a specific way. If ideas and values belong to groups of people one may ask what is the group, imagined or not, in relation to the society? Does the cognitive concept of culture cover the material dimension of cognitions?91 In a pastoral culture, for example, ‘beads talk’92 a rich language.93 In line with this understanding, the anthropologist Paul Bohannan talks about culture as a ‘set of common understandings manifest in art and artifact’.94


Culture as a phenomenon in development

In contrast to Klausen’s idea of a society as an unit, the historian and anthropologist Nikolai M. Girenko suggests that a society in relation to a culture community is more dynamic, more abstract, and more subject to partitioning than a community of people with common cultural characteristics. Methodologically and theoretically, the notions of society in a narrow sense and culture are thus not to be regarded as a correlation of the part and the whole. The correlation is rather an expression of two sides of the same coin in that one is inconceivable without the other. Girenko suggests that culture is the system of historically developed materially and perceptually accessible forms in which social existence (life) is enacted.95 I find that this definition of culture allows us to make an attempt to make the notion manageable. 

Culture, as a system of historically developed materially and perceptually accessible forms, corresponds with the idea that social practise and social norms shape culture. In other words, culture is an aspect of the social. Culture can hence be the form in which relations between people, between people and things, or between society and nature are exercised. Or, culture is the perceptible form of the material results of these relations.96 In this respect let me quote the first paragraph under the heading of ‘Cultural Concepts’ from the Report by the Ethiopian Team - working within the aforementioned project on Culture in Finnish development Cooperation.97

‘One of the means of reaching the hearts of the people is by way of understanding how they think. To understand the thinking mechanisms and to open the main doors of the internal feelings it will be very obligatory to define and interpret some of the culturally very significant concepts and their social sources. These are concepts like ‘Yilugnta’, ‘Gebena’, Silence, collective thinking, suspicioness ‘Tayta’.’98

If we substitute ‘the main doors of the internal feelings’ with culture and cultural forms enacted in different cultural considerations such as rituals and if we acknowledge a deep historical perspective of social sources, we realize the relevance of understanding culture as a cross-section of the societal process. This brings us also closer to a further understanding of culture as a tool in development cooperation. 

Yet, I agree with Klausen on an important methodological problem, the one on analyzing ‘socio cultural factors’. They are not factors ‘that must be taken into account’ to achieve the objectives, whatever they may be, in development cooperation. Admittedly, they are also part of the objectives.99 Thus the analysis of ‘socio cultural factors’ is indeed an important part of an anthropological research process which emphasizes knowledge obtained from different sources. It is based on the interaction between the researcher and the informants in collecting primary field material.

It is important to notice that, in theory, the form can, as it were, be separated from the society. The form is apprehended as an independent phenomenon with a proper inner essence. But although social practice, the content of culture, is realized in material or spiritual values the two of them are correlated. A change of the content of culture (the social) does not always presuppose a change of the form and vice versa. As in the latter case, the change of the form tends to be perceived as objective. It is in fact perceived as an ideal model by the people themselves (whose native form it is).

Evidently forms of culture are slow to change in comparison to their content. Forms or system(s) of forms from past times, enabling the continuity of culture, are not in contradiction to cultural forms of the present as long as they fit a new socio-economic reality. However, an adaptation to social-economic transformations can be difficult and result in a break-down of a system or, alternatively, it will be unreceptive to innovations and loose its function.

In acknowledging that culture is an asset and not a constraint in development cooperation, Jens Dahl’s research from the south west of Tanzania provides a good illustration of local development in relation to foreign intervention. The Rungwe hoe, which suited the soil in this part of Tanzania, was formerly locally produced. Industrially produced imported hoes later outperformed local hoes. With development aid a factory was constructed in the country for producing hoes. As the factory did not produce suitable hoes, peasants complained because they had not been asked to cooperate in the design of hoes. The economic crisis in Tanzania brought about a restriction of import of quality hoes and a lack of raw materials and spare parts in the local factory. According to Dahl, it was too late to build upon the local cultural tradition, despite its former development potential.100 This means that rapid social-economic transformation emerged in an old context manifesting itself in new artifacts whereas the old phenomenon underwent a crisis and, in this case, disappeared in the midst of change.

Referring to culture as a form or a system of forms in which life is realized, I suggest that finding ways to understand ‘development as the bridge between the traditional and the modern’101 is an elementary task for the development agent. A. O. Anacleti (1996) illustrates this idea with an example from the Training workshop for Traditional Birth Attendants at the Mvumi Hospital in Dodoma. The village women in this workshop disapproved of being called 'traditional' and 'attendants' when the formally trained midwives wanted to monopolise the word 'midwife'. Admittedly, the village women were sure they had delivered more live children than the latter. Anacleti concludes: ‘As a compromise, they /the village women/ agreed to be called ‘traditional midwives’ , provided that the hospital midwives agreed to be called ‘pen midwives’ '.102


Culture as a tool in development cooperation

With respect to cultural implications of development three themes will next be discussed. These are: an appreciation of local knowledge in development projects, the differentiation between people both externally and internally, a recognition that development work requires time.


Appreciation of local knowledge and practices 

A common perspective on development is to see culture as an obstacle to all development. Experience of participatory research in a Latin American as well as an African context has shown that a discussion about cultural constraints is closely connected to a discussion about participatory development. Evidently, development policies will fail if they lack input from below. Participation needs spokespersons from a number of sectors of society in order to be genuine. Technical knowledge derived from a scientific context only fits an open-ended approach emphasizing learning from one another. I will return to participatory development work related to concrete undertakings in a participatory research context in the section on the Jipemoyo project. 

Running the risk of simplifying an argument, there are two circumstances when cultural forms do not change in the context of development projects. An inappropriate development project results in lesser or stronger resistance to change, due to the lack of unsuitable alternatives to what people already have. On the other hand, ideally, in a participatory project, cultural forms which either change or not are not in contradiction with planned change, since the latter should be a result of close cooperation between all the stakeholders. The villagization process which took place in Tanzania during 1973-1976 is a good example of how participatory development would have been achieved had the cultural implications been taken into consideration. Administrators interpreted the reasons to resistance by the villagers as traditionalism. Arguably, the underlying cause behind resistance was rather a reaction to directed development.103 Anacleti suggests that research, for instance, into the ways people during this time were adopting and organizing patterns of land ownership would have helped ‘to increase the social and economic acceptability’ of villagization. Evidently, 20 years after the villagization, people are returning to their old homesteads and re-creating their own structures. In this respect the Tanzanian sociologist Sam Maghimbi has shown that Nyerere's interpretation of traditional African villages as cradles of freedom, equality and unity, thereby justifying ujamaa, was not based on empirical evidence.104

In writing about the development potentials for the Tarime District in Tanzania, Anacleti emphasizes that without appreciating, for example, the role of cattle in the social system of the area it is impossible to understand the development of the district. A plan to improve grazing at the expense of diminishing the number of cattle in the district, for example, must face the fact that cattle, besides being a symbol of wealth, is literally also money. Animals are required for a number of rituals connected to different stages of life and eventually death itself. In this way animals are an insurance for future. In the same way the social implications of a specific division of labour between men and women and specific regulations as to property between husbands and wives have to be considered when supporting women’s development.105

The reluctance to pay attention to what the local systems are is one thing. The situation is even worse when introduced new social structures ‘are based on misinformation of what exists.’ Commenting on cultural constraints, the development anthropologist Arja Vainio-Mattila106 said: ‘The hierarchical way in which we manage our programs are often totally inappropriate to traditional and local management practices.’ Concretely parallel but unfitting management structures such as water point committees are introduced into areas that have managed their scarce water resources from times immemorial.107 Thus, the water point committees, similar to a Nordic cooperative model, introduced in a development cooperation project in northern Namibia were taken up by elderly men who ‘never go’ to the specific water-points. This means that people who have formerly managed water resources loose their roles and those who make the decisions ‘don't know the first thing about water wells’. As a matter of fact, the engineers in this project did not have basic knowledge of what the local water system was.

It has become clear from the above that cultural constraints exist but not in the sense that the local culture is a problem. Rather, the problem is of the people who are coming ‘there’. In the above mentioned case it was evidently a white, Namibian water engineer who could not ask a black Namibian woman advise on building a well. Not that this woman does not know, as Vainio-Mattila put it succinctly.

Social anthropologists have for a long time argued that indigenous knowledge and practices, social institutions and indigenous tenacity must be considered if local resource management and development plans are to work. These factors have been, and are still the keys to, for example, pastoral survival.108 Mette Bovin is of the opinion that the culture of nomads is the key to the their survival strategies in the awful calamity of drought. One way of surviving is through altogether four different systems of redistribution of animals among families and clans in times of crisis. Without this system of borrowing and lending, the people would die in the sand like the animals, she says.109 Admittedly, policy outlines and recommendations for rural development contain very little, if any to encourage pastoralism as an asset in development. Universally and with special reference to the African continent, one of the strongest interventions of administrations relate to pastoral culture. Nomads in Niger, for example, do not have a representative of their own in the government. 

During a time span of almost one decade, a development cooperation project in a nomad context, in which the poorest nomads would be given animals, has never been realized notwithstanding suggestions presented by the anthropologist. Commenting on aid in development Bovin says: ‘I would call it aid trade. Money for cows, cattle to poor nomads... you do not support Danish industry in this way. It is always the double aim, to give to a third world country and at the same time gain from it yourself. Anthropologists have criticized this kind of politics but nobody supports their view.’110

The main implications from above are that people have their own concept of development: ‘people participate in what they know best’. Considering that at least 70 per cent of the Africans as well as people in Asia111 will possibly continue to live in rural areas, their knowledge will continue to be local, but specific to their everyday reality. This knowledge, forms of culture, should be the starting-point for people if and when they are involved in development work together with development agents and researchers. The latter are without doubt dependent on local people in order to achieve the goals of a development cooperation project.112 Interaction between so-called experts in the modern sector and people representing local, specific knowledge can result in the creation of new knowledge. Methodologically this process requires a specific kind of learning with an emphasis on group research which is qualitatively different from conventional training processes.113

In sum, in order to widen and deepen the knowledge base different knowledge systems have to interact since ‘action regenerates knowledge’. In this way scientific knowledge is not produced apart from everyday practical knowledge.114 


People is not an undifferentiated mass

The cultural process of development is a multiple phenomenon since the government is not identical with ‘people’ and ‘people’ is not an undifferentiated mass. Early evelopment cooperation work failed to consider the heterogeneity within all parts of society. These include, among others, women, young people, old people, minorities and specific professionals who themselves are widely differentiated. The Swedish anthropologist Eva Tobisson showed, for example, that the external agencies' work of change affected the internal dynamics of the social organization of the agro-pastoralists in northern Tanzania. Accordingly, a changing relationship between men and women had repercussions on the role of women in society. Apart from domestic work they also participated in building houses and herding cattle. Their roles made them central for solving problems of food, fuel and water.115 Yet, they were neglected in the decision-making process in the villages.116

A first step of development workers is to get the whole picture of norms and values, and maybe their ideals, in a specific area. The second step is to look for the variations in the heterogeneity of what first looks like a homogeneous mass of people.117 Hierarchies are found everywhere, including the administration as well as among people. It is of utmost importance to recognize hierarchies in the process of planned change. The manner in which certain groups are left outside the decision-making process deserves attention. Mark Gorman118 showed, for example, that older people are marginalized specifically because of structural inequalities which development aims to transform.119 

Thus a central feature of participatory development suggests that voices from all the categories or groups of people are significant. Mary B. Anderson argues, however, that the emphasis laid in international development assistance on appreciating diversity may have negative impacts as well. When a certain group is marginalized in a certain context, the most suitable way to improve its situation may be not to focus on the group itself. Instead, one should ask what lies behind the discrimination against that group. Other groups, possible advantaged ones, may hold the key to required changes. Groups are, however, involved in dynamic and changing relationships. This means that development agencies should be careful not to objectify groups. As I mentioned in the previous section, an assumption of homogeneity in any group of people is dangerous. The issue is one of approach and strategy in order to both acknowledge differences and, at the same time unite rather than discriminate between people's interests.120

From an anthropological perspective, a strategy to define a ‘target group’ implies an objectivization of people instead of making people the subjects of their development. In this sense the ‘culture of aid’ suggests an objectivization.121 One group of stakeholders takes away power from others.122

It is very important to include the role of the individual in this analysis. Questions such as what should they do?, what is to be done and by whom?, in other words, who are they?,123 are relevant when it comes to planning, implementing and evaluating projects. Admittedly, ‘people’ are unwilling to articulate their views when it comes to sensitive questions and therefore the role of the individual - on all levels, from the top to the bottom or vice versa - becomes very significant in social and cultural matters. An evaluator without necessary language capacities to communicate with the ‘target group’ fits well into an ideology labelled by Ioan M. Lewis124 as the ‘preference of ignorance’.


Research into culture and development requires time 

If a culture-sensitive approach towards development cooperation is very important then development agents should take an active part in the life of the communities in which they work. Apart from the fact that a recognition of the above depends on the social and political prerequisites that a society or country sets for itself, genuine participation in a development cooperation project needs time.

In the majority of reports on studies and evaluation reports in the context of culture and development work it is a frequently reported statement that the time schedule set for the task was too short.125 Despite different approaches taken in various studies, frequent comments include the following: ‘But the time at our disposal was extremely limited’,126 ‘too little time was set aside for project preparation’,127 or, ‘The one remark we have to make, however, concerns the time constraint’.128 There is a temptation to interpret these comments as excuses for something that was not 'accomplished'. While there are other factors as well, the time factor is a serious constraint.

Only very skilful evaluators, preferably social scientists, with much experience in development work, manage to anticipate the difficulties they will encounter in a task and take the appropriate action.129 Poluha concluded the section on ‘Methods’ in her Reflections on People's Participation in Evaluation, based on the Dodota Water Supply Project in Arssi in Ethiopia, by reporting that only if time is spent in training and ample time provided for introducing participatory elements at the beginning of the project, can participatory evaluation be attempted. Otherwise, ‘the participation of the local population at a later stage in the project cycle is due to encounter great difficulties’.130

Swantz brings this discussion one step further. She claims that conducting participatory research prior or within specific development projects would reduce the number of evaluation missions. This means that evaluation is built into the total process of the project cycle through the use of a participatory approach.131 This approach is discussed in the following section.


Culture, Development and Participation

There have been considerable efforts, both on the part of the donors as well as of writers on grassroots methodologies to apply the concept of participation in development undertakings. Donors and policy-makers, villagers and researchers, it is said, should all ‘participate’. What all this has meant in practice deserves a study of its own. In the context of Finnish development cooperation, Arja Vainio-Mattila's study (1997)132 reviews practices, policies and ideas that have emerged around participatory development in the international debates on participation. In addition to a list of concrete suggestions (pp. 29-31), the report accordingly calls for a policy framework for participatory development within Finnish development cooperation. 

For the purposes of the following discussion one of the early background perspectives on participation, mentioned by Vainio-Mattila, will be emphasized. Hence, in the context of development cooperation, ‘the possibilities of participatory approaches were first explored through research’ (p. 6, my emphasis). A shift towards a participatory research approach (PRA) as opposed to conventional development approach took place during the 1970s. Interestingly, PRA began at the same time but independently not only in Africa and Asia but also in North America and Europe. Evidently, PRA grew out of practical situations which required commitment and involvement of researchers.133 PRA was primarily an exercise in understanding the context of development interventions. 

Considering the abundance of studies and reports written about the major features of participatory research,134 it is sufficient here to mention the major conditions which must be met for participation. I rely on Swantz who was one of the first to write on PRA and who has claimed the following:

* Participatory research requires first and foremost plenty of time. This means that a project cannot be called participatory unless there is enough time for people involved to get know each other.

* People must be aware of the aims of the project. This again presupposes two-way communication, namely that the researched people interfere in the research. Asking for peoples' opinion does not make a study 'participatory'.135 

In my own experience, participatory research is often claimed when a study in its name is not. Participation is, still, a fashion word. What is commonly meant when referring to participation is various methods of the PRA. Thus, a multidisciplinary team which conducted field studies in a number of villages in Tanzania and Zambia used 'participatory methods', albeit in an experimental sense.136 The team consisted of both Africans and Europeans. They stayed in a village or community two weeks at the most. 

A participatory research approach requires a variety of methods. Archival studies, for example, are important for historical documentation and support note taking and interviews on oral information. Participatory research includes participatory training and planning.

The Jipemoyo Project137 is a pioneer project in which culture was understood in a broad meaning.138 One might ask why Jipemoyo, two decades after its introduction, is still mentioned (in Tanzania) as an experience from which many lessons have been learnt. As an innovative project aimed at developing training models for development work based on socio-cultural resources, Jipemoyo is an appropriate example to refer with respect to the 'cultural process of development', because, using a participatory research approach, culture research and development were integrated. Accordingly, I will next give a short outline of this Finnish-Tanzanian project, with special reference to its training and research experience. Some lessons learnt from the project will also be discussed with respect to further participatory research in development cooperation. 

Many of the main arguments discussed hitherto in this paper were carried out in the course of the Jipemoyo project. They included the importance of a wide concept of culture; the danger of objectifying culture; the cultural implications of development, including the significance of participation and indigenous knowledge as well as acknowledging development as a multiple phenomenon in respect to a change of culture.


The Jipemoyo Project

Origin of the study 

A culture research project, Jipemoyo (1975-1981), was set up through the cooperation of the Academy of Finland and the Ministry of National Culture and Youth in Tanzania. Coordinated by two directors, from Finland and Tanzania, it was carried out in the western Bagamoyo district of the Coast Region of Tanzania. The research team of Jipemoyo consisted of two Tanzanian researchers, several Tanzanian research assistants and three Finnish counterparts, two of them being full-time researchers. Other researchers, both Finnish and Tanzanian, were associated with the project on a temporary basis. The Participatory Research Approach applied in this project emphasized cooperation between different levels of society, villagers, researchers and those in administrative authority.

Goals of the Jipemoyo Project

The objectives of the project were to analyze the role of culture in the process of change; to participate in the process of development and to experiment with approaches and methods in development research which incorporate people from all levels of society, in order to create in them an awareness of their own resources; to collect, document and study cultural material; to assist in training Tanzanian and Finnish scholars to conduct participatory research; and, to create models of field training for cultural officers, government leaders, students as well as agricultural, veterinary and health officers who were working in villages.

Jipemoyo aimed at realizing the development potential of the residents of Bagamoyo district by raising their consciousness and their confidence in their own ability to utilize their own resources for their own development. It was felt that research should prove its productivity not only in the academic study but in improving living conditions of the communities being studied. This approach would arouse interest in research among villagers, decision-makers and officials since cooperation itself is a training process.139

In order to accomplish the above-mentioned goals the project took off by developing a training programme. An important aspect of training aimed at introducing local political and government leaders and workers to the culture and values of villagers in such a way that the villagers' participation and leadership in their own development would become a central concern of such workers. 

Accordingly, one significant procedure of the participatory approach included seminars on various problems at village, division and district levels. At the national level, two seminars were held where cultural extension officers were given training in participatory research. 

Prior to the seminars, there were meetings in the villages both in groups and informally with individuals. The villagers in the seminars were able to present their own views on the development of their living conditions. Leaders and officers were brought into face to face contact with ordinary villagers. Their role as listeners and discussants, in contrast to their general role as speakers to whom villagers are supposed to respond, admitted an open debate and discussion. Ideally, this interactive training method in which both sides brought out their ideas, perceptions, complaints and suggestions is superior to most other adult teaching methods.

Involving researchers, functionaries, leaders and villagers in the research process can perhaps best be shown by briefly describing one of the seminars organized in Msata village. One of the outstanding themes of this seminar covered pastoralism in the Bagamoyo district - thoroughly studied from many angles during the Jipemoyo project. I will also illustrate a sequel of a three day long international seminar on archiving with participants coming both from Finland and from Eastern African countries. Other major seminars were a pastoralists' seminar on education, a workshop for women officers and an archiving seminar.140


The Msata seminar: a seminar on pastoralists and craftsmen 

The purpose of this seminar in Msata village was to give the Jipemoyo project a public image in the research area and to demonstrate its quality as an arena for people from all levels of society. Accordingly, leaders and functional officers from the region, district, divisions, wards and villages gathered together with researchers and about one hundred villagers representing a number of skills. There were pastoralists, local historians, smiths, musicians and craftsmen and -women such as woodworkers, potters and carpenters.

Among the special themes discussed in groups, as well as in a plenary session, were the difficulties in starting craftsmen's and women's cooperatives as the basis for small-scale village industries. Some of the dilemmas were about raw materials, tools, organization and markets.

Another theme was the views of Parakuyo, a Maa-speaking ethnic minority, about their systems of education and how these could be integrated into modern education. The Parakuyo's relationships with neighbouring people, representing different but complementary modes of subsistence, also offered one perspective from many on the development of ethnicity in the area. The pastoralists addressed the leaders on how they saw their problems with respect to school education. Obviously, their educational problems could not be separated from their general life. Few girls attended schools regularly since the elders feared that the girls would be alienated from a pastoral way of life. A reluctance to join their families would have a negative effect on the reproduction of the community. There was thus a strong fear of losing bridewealth which is given mainly in cattle. This being the case, the pastoralists requested that the school education of their children, together with adult education, should be related to cattle, as was the case with the education of the cultivators' children which was in line with ‘their’ culture. 

The Msata seminar exposed the weak coordination among Government leaders, and the village leaders and the pastoralists. The leaders blamed the pastoralists for the tense relationship between the cultivators and the pastoralists. According to the leaders, the pastoralists grazed their cattle on the lands of the agriculturalists out of carelessness. From the Parakuyo point of view, this problem looked totally different: they did not have the freedom to choose a place for cattle in the same way as the cultivators were given the freedom to choose areas of land for a particular crop. 

Policy outlines and recommendations for rural development contained very little to encourage pastoralism as an asset in development. The debate between the Parakuyo and those in power at the Msata seminar paved the way for new meetings and seminars on the pastoralist question. It bears noting, that in a later seminar on Pastoralist Education and Development Problems, the way in which participatory research had been employed was acknowledged from the side of the policy-makers.


A Seminar on Archiving

One of the targets of the Jipemoyo project was to try to establish a cultural archive. The aim was to ‘to collect, document and study such cultural material which disappears in the midst of change’ and to organize a system of collection, systematization and archiving of cultural data on cultural forms. This task was both to document what was done in the Jipemoyo project and to create a basis for the establishment of a Traditions' Archives and Documentation Unit within the Ministry of National Culture and Youth. 

The three-day seminar discussed and analyzed the problems related to archiving and documentation in Tanzania. It was admitted that if participatory research is to be useful, questions about what to collect and how, ways and place of storage and, most importantly, the usage of such materials should be decided at an early stage of the project. It was important to feed back research findings to the villagers and the leaders who had participated in collecting and documenting data on culture and development and were able to use the findings to solve identified problems of, for example, marketing of handicrafts. 

The archiving seminar was followed by a practical seminar for cultural researchers in the Bagamoyo District. It was arranged by the project team and lasted for two weeks, starting with a one week training in field research techniques in the village of Miono. This included training in note taking, the use of tape recorders and cameras. During the following week, the cultural officers spent time in the surrounding villages to practice what they had learnt.

The officers documented and sometimes analyzed their experiences in a report141 which was disseminated in the villages. The village of Mandera, for example, was documented as a 'research exercise' by Bakari M. Hassan, Mohammed Mandoa and Kalokora J. Nsibu. They divided a number of subject-studies between themselves. Some of the studies, including ironsmithery, health, music and dance, agriculture, education and history were conducted by all the team members. A part of this experience, as a unique document which strongly suggests the cultural dimension of development, is to be found in Appendix 1.142 


Dimensions of research on culture and development 

The Jipemoyo project team was working under an agreement that central concepts like culture and development need to be defined in the context in which they are used and cannot be given general definitions. Secondly, a common standpoint was that culture was assumed to be a comprehensive concept and directly related to productive forces, which both shape and result in historical development. Thirdly, people's own conceptualization was considered to affect the meaning given to the general concept of culture. Development has to start from people's own evaluation of their own situation and a separation between so-called spiritual culture and its societal and material base cannot come into question.143 

An initial group approach, based on ethnicity, proved impractical for different reasons. First, as the project proceeded it never became clear how an ethnic group could be defined. Second, for the villagers in the research area, the history of a specific area was much more important than the history of a 'tribal unit'.144 Thus in a field situation it was not plausible, for example, to ask ‘are you a Kwere potter’ or ‘are you a Zigua dancer’ since the project's focus was on people as villagers rather than ethnic groups.145 Focusing on the practical problems which the villagers themselves identified, an essentialization of ethnic groups from the part of the team was avoided. This approach permitted, at the same time, the study of the impact of various cultural forms in the context of particular development projects.

Integrating research in the development process involved the researchers in practical tasks which meant that the advancement of a specific study was necessarily formulated in a village situation. Thus, one of the Finnish researchers, studying the promotion of music in the district, found that the water problem in one of the villages was so acute that the villagers were only ready to discuss other matters after they felt that some progress was being made towards solving their water problem. Accordingly, he began his studies by involving some classes of the local school in collecting information about their families' water-practices. Questions were asked about from where they obtained, transported and cleared their water. Some of the schoolchildren consulted the elders about traditional waterpractices. The outcome of this study was a report and an exhibition exposed to the villagers who were motivated in evaluating the results and compare local practices with innovations. This opportunity served as a means for creating contact with the regional water authorities by giving them a concrete picture of their suffering while waiting for more long-term solutions to this problem at the regional and national levels. Evidently, villagers were frustrated since promises for water supply had so far not been realized. Furthermore, the villagers had not been consulted during expensive water surveys which had been conducted in the area for some time.

Several other practical results were achieved by Jipemoyo146 Another method used was the feedback received from research documentation. Photographs illustrating, for example, a work process of some kind, were used for further information. Villagers' participation in the research process resulted in a more effective collection and interpretation method.


Twenty years after - A participatory approach from within and - within

As a result of the Jipemoyo experience, PR was accepted by the Department of Research and Planning of the Ministry of National Culture and Youth as a prerequisite for their current and future research projects. The idea was disseminated to other parts of Tanzania where it was put into practice in the 1980s.

A community based self-help organization Imusot e Purka147 is presently active among semi-nomadic pastoralists in Handeni district. The inhabitants of semi-nomadic villages have experienced continuing land reform in Tanzania through the privatization of land by demarcating and registering villages and putting blocks of land under private freehold title, which is alien to the communal pastoral land system. Hence, Imusot e Purka works for the betterment of life of pastoralists by using their knowledge, energy and locally available resources: ’We ... believe that we possess own local knowledge and available traditional structures that can be built on and developed’.148 This work is conducted through traditional structures and the regular institutional set up based on sub-village, village, ward, division and district levels. The tasks need much coordination among the pastoralists themselves, as well as cooperation between different villages generally made up of both pastoralists and cultivators.149 

It has not been possible to establish whether the present activity in Handeni district has roots in the Jipemoyo project. Nevertheless in referring to the findings and observations of the manifold activities which include fieldwork, training, counselling and seminars the Norwegian anthropologist Marianne Bakken (1998)150 has claimed that ‘this is certainly an example of culture and development - and from within’.

As far as theoretical implications of participatory research is concerned, researchers have paid attention to the difference between participation as a concept referring to development policy and practice, on the one hand, and the application of the concept to a specific research approach, on the other. The latter recognizes that ‘researched people’ are producers of knowledge.151 This paradigm breaking approach emphasizes the possibility of widening and deepening the knowledge base. It also suggests implications for a theory of knowledge. In short, ‘knowledge is formed in and for action.152

Participatory Rural Appraisal methods and approaches, developed initially by Robert Chambers,153 in aiming to enable ‘rural people to share, enhance and analyze their knowledge of life and conditions to plan and act’,154present a number of challenges both theoretically and practically, as villagers develop and spread methods that they use in the rural development process. The major challenge is to establish PRA institutionally with some permanency.155 This is an important aspect of the continuity and depth of participatory research and development. 

In the context of Finnish development cooperation with the government of Tanzania the Rural Integrated Project Support (RIPS) Phase II programme (1994-1999) supports rural development activities in the south-eastern part of Tanzania aiming at improve local conditions for sustainable livelihood. In a similar way to the researchers of the Jipemoyo project in the late seventies and early eighties, the ‘development agents’, make an effort to involve people of all categories, ‘in giving expressions as to how they see their situation’.156 Notably, using modified Participatory Rural Appraisal methods, RIPS has introduced ‘mutual learning’ as the basic mode of communication. This means that villagers, village leaders, government officers, political leaders and facilitators gather to make village analyses ‘each contributing from his own expertise’.157 This people-centred approach has made participatory analysis in more that 300 villages in the Mtwara and Lindi regions.158

The methods which have proved to be effective are activities that take place over time within a multidisciplinary approach. Accordingly, information from fields such as forestry and agriculture, community development and sociology, is used. One method is participatory mapping. Villagers draw maps, which are valuable for investigating, for example, changes in farming practices. The analysis of the maps is made in local communities and presents to the outsiders a way of understanding trends of changes in an area as well as priorities and reasons for prioritizing specific crops.159

One concrete example is that of young people who form study research groups using a method which integrates research with practical work. Accordingly, young people working in prisons as probation officers get leave of absence from their ordinary work to conduct research when prisoners are released. They escort prisoners to their home villages in order to study the integration process from a cultural perspective.160 In this way, within RIPS, a part of the development work of the villagers is research. Depending on a person’s job, s/he can choose her or his own topic within a project. This means that when the project is over there is continuity in knowledge through local resources. 

According to Swantz, who has a thorough experience in a number of projects supported by RIPS phase II, the PR programme opens new perspectives.161 It will provide rich material from substantial conclusions about what participation, which includes participatory research, can accomplish when implemented on a larger scale and with a time perspective that allows internal development.

A programme supported by Regional Commissioners, RIPS has succeeded in integrating the participatory planning process into government structures. This suggests that participation in development can be institutionalized as part of a cultural process of development. 



A culture sensitive approach in development work lays claim on making culture manageable for the purpose of international development cooperation. This idea emphasizes a dialogue between academic researchers and professionals in order to create more efficiency in development work. In an anthropological sense, culture is integrated in society and social development and is thus heterogeneous, dynamic and holistic. Arguably, culture, as a system of perceptually given forms in which life is enacted, is a cross-section of the social dynamics. Culture is not a specific ‘sector’ of society but is, for example, the form in which relations between people, between people and things, or between society and nature, are exercised. Or, culture is the perceptible form of the material results of these relations. 

This idea is in contrast to another concept of culture, which identifies the term with a social community implying a homogeneity of social groups. In missing the dynamic dimension of culture, and specifically the process of contestation of the meanings given to it, this different concept commonly conflates culture with the notion of representation. As a result, decision-makers, in objectifying specific ‘cultures’ and identifying them with ethnicity and race, pave the way for the target groups of research to construct and reconstruct their everyday life as homogeneous and closed groups. In this process, people therefore manipulate culture for gaining social and economic ends.

Culture, when identified with a social community, is the most common way to politicize the concept. In emphasizing the dynamics of culture, it is possible to avoid the pitfalls which arise out of the politicization of ‘culture’, especially when used as a synonym for society. 

Social anthropologists, who work within development, argue that indigenous knowledge and practices, social institutions and indigenous tenacity must be taken seriously if local resource management and development plans are to work. This means that it is necessary for development agents to appreciate various sociological factors of different spheres of life in a specific area. The main implication from this is that people have substantial development potential in their knowledge, their cultural forms. Furthermore, research into local culture that aims to tap development potential requires interaction and interchange of different kind of knowledge and learning between development agents, the so-called experts, and people representing local, specific knowledge. Methodologically, this process is a result arising out of specific training based on participation in development work. 


I suggest that an elementary task for the development agent is to find way of understanding development as the bridge between historically developed cultural forms. This task, which emphasizes knowledge obtained from different sources in order to penetrate beyond the obvious and the apparent, can only take place through a participatory research approach. There are two main premises inherent in this process. Firstly, social and cultural aspects should form the context within which the rest of a development project takes place. Secondly, a participatory approach in development work must be an continuing exercise in which all parties concerned must be involved at the initial stage of a programme or a project. In this way, it is possible to avoid making a ‘target group’ a mere object of the work. Ultimately, a significant part of participatory research and its result lie in a dialogical training method. This means that seminars, courses and training which need to be carried out on the local level enable different knowledge systems to interact. Scientific knowledge is produced alongside everyday practical knowledge. 

Because of their experience and knowledge, anthropologists engaged in development work can anticipate potential problems or changes within a specific project. Anthropological methods provide insight, for example, into local management practices. This is why the experience of life in a particular society is not enough when making choices in facilitating the planning of training.

Involving local people to discuss their own development leads to an understanding that if villagers and bureaucrats are engaged in the research process itself they will also be interested in its findings. An attempt to integrate culture and participation in development work emphasizes people’s own perceptions of their situation, meaning that voices from all categories or groups, that is, the subjects of development, must be heard. I assume that an omission of this aspect in development work restricts conditions to establish participation institutionally. Meetings and seminars are the main areas where debates and discussions between different ‘levels’ of society take place. Evidently, these strategically necessary occasions for an institutionalization of participation, breed new discussions which bring about diverse actions on different levels of society. Phenomenally an aspect of the social, culture, as a system of perceptible forms, provides tools to pave the way for an institutionalization of participation in development within society.


1This paper is a revised version of a report submitted to the Department of International Development Cooperation of the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs. The Terms of Reference for the report suggested that research results, providing knowledge about ‘local socio-economic and cultural factors’ gained by culture researchers, should be applied in the planning and evaluation of development cooperation projects. I would like to thank Michael Cowen and Marja Liisa Swantz for comments on an earlier version of this manuscript.

2Ndagala, 1985, 5; The Cultural..., 1986; Fairweather, 1997, 19; Talle..., 1995.

3September 5-8, 1995 in Mtwara, Tanzania. See The Making of A Periphery (1998), edited by Pekka Seppälä and Bertha Koda. See also Holly Harris who calls for a ‘discussion on the process of knowledge transmissions and preservations within local communities, and the relationship between culture and indigenous knowledge (IK) as opposed to IK as a purely political construction distinct from knowledge producing processes’ (1997).

4Seppälä, ibid.

5Ståhl, 1997, 45.

6See , for example, The Cultural Dimension of Development. Indigenous knowledge systems. Edited by Warren, Slikkerveer and Brokensha (1995) and Cultural Dynamics in Development Processes. Edited by Arie de Ruijter and Lieteke van Vucht Tijssen (1995). 

7Julius Nyerere expressed this almost ‘classic idea’ in a speech already in 1968 - as notified by Swantz and Tripp (1996, 43).

8See Anacleti, 1996.

9See e.g. The European Journal of Development Research, Vol. 8, December 1996. Edited by Vincent Tucker, London, 1996. This issue, ‘Cultural Perspectives on Development’ deals specifically with topics of culture and development. 

10See for example the definitions suggested by the academics Margarethe Silberschmidt, 1986 and Leif Ole Manger, 1986 on the one hand , and Carl Tham, the Director General of SIDA, 1991, on the other hand.

11See for example Arne Martin Klausen, 1997. 

12Quote from Susan Wright, 1998, 12.

13Personal discussions with Finnish and Swedish anthropologists who have worked as professionals in developing countries. Together with Professor Klausen’s comments Susan Wright’s recent contribution ‘The politicization of ‘culture’ are welcome exceptions in this respect. Discussing ‘old’ and ‘new’ anthropological approaches to ‘culture’ Wright examines, for example, how ‘culture’ is deployed in the field of what she calls overseas development, referring to Our Creative Diversity (Wright, 1998, 7-8, 12-15). 

141996, 2.

151995; quotations from p. 216 and p. 232.

161995, 68; my emphasis.

17The document states: ‘no culture is a hermetically sealed entity. All cultures are influenced by and in turn influence other cultures’ (1995, 54). 

18‘Kielellinen ja kulttuuri-identiteetti - kieli-imperialismia vai kielellisiä ihmisoikeuksia koulutusyhteistyössä’. 

19About 10 (ten) per cent of today’s oral languages are assured of still being around in 2100. This estimation has been worked out by the linguist Michael Krauss from Alaska (Skutnabb-Kangas and Phillipson, 1998, 2). 

201998, leaning on Smolicz, 1979.

21The Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Department for International Development Cooperation.

221998, vi.

23Vasko et. al, 1998, 133. I have since found exactly the same statement in UNESCO, 1997, 28.

24This is a sequel to Our Creative Diversity.

25Quotation from, Vasko, 1998, 144. 

261998, 137.

271998, 5

28Tapaninen, n.d. 6, 8.

29Friedman, 1994, 174.

301990, 36.

31Cf. Swantz, 1997, 16.

32See Wim van Binsbergen, 1985, 181. 

33Wright, 1998,14.

34Wikan, 1990; Abu-Lughod, 1995; Ingold, 1990.

35Researcher at the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, who since 1964 has spent a total of about fifteen years in Africa, doing fieldwork for various research projects. Her research has mainly focused on two subjects: 1) Women in Islamic societies and 2) Nomads of the drought in West Africa. 

36Geographer and anthropologist, A. Vainio-Mattila has worked e.g. with the UN in terms of the FAO, both in the field and in the headquarters, with FINNIDA, SIDA and the Canadian CIDA, as a sub-contractor to consulting companies with NGOs and as a representative of the academic milieu.

37When not specified (evaluation, appraisal) I have used the general term development work for anthropologists' various assignments within these organizations.

38See, for example, Hvor mange hvite elefanter? Kulturdimensjonen i bistandsarbeidet. Edited by Thomas Hylland Eriksen Oslo, Ad Notam, 1990.

39Cult 1998/4.

40For the sake of convenience I use the term anthropologist when referring to sociologists and other social scientists as well. Eva Evers-Rosander notes that the term socioeconomist is often used in the context of development aid in the Swedish context (1993, 10).

41According to Eva Evers-Rosander only two anthropologists worked in Swedish Development Cooperation before 1980 (Biståndsantropologen 20/1993). For an extensive description and analysis of anthropology in the Swedish Development Cooperation up to ten years ago see the special issue 13-14/1989 of Biståndsantropologen edited by Lasse Krantz and Eva Tobisson. Admittedly, the late seventies and the eighties were the heydays for development anthropologists in Sweden. Today, the monitoring is increasingly done within SIDA (Ståhl, 1998).

42See, for example, Marja-Liisa Swantz: Anthropology: Applied and Pure. Suomen Antropologi 1/1986.

43Cult 1998/3.

44Cult 1998/4.

45Cult 1998/4.

46Cf. Hagberg, 1993, 16-17.

47Cult 1998/1.

48Cult 1998/3.

49Cult 1998/4.

50Kristina Bohman works in the Development Studies Unit in the Department of Social Anthropology in the University of Stockholm. She has made fieldwork specifically in a Latin American context. She has also worked in the Department of Policy of SIDA as an advisor.

51Expression by Vainio-Mattila, 1998.

52However, cultural diversity should not be restricted to mean ethnic diversity. Heterogeneity is manifested through a number of overlapping groups such as children, old people or administrators.

53Cult 1998/1.

54Cult 1998/4.

55These programmes did not exist 10-15 years ago.

56Cult 1998/4.

57Cult 1998/4

58Cult 1998/1.

59Cult 1998/4; cf. Cult 1998/3.

60Cult 1998/3.

61The ‘improved stove’ is a derivative of the South American Lorena stove (Vainio-Mattila, 1987, 89).

62Cult 1998/4.

63Eva Poluha teaches in the Department of Social Anthropology, University of Stockholm. She has done extensive field work in e.g. Ethiopia. Her contribution to development work have been with e.g. SIDA, the World Bank and the Rädda Barnen. 

64As part of a general collaboration agreement with SIDA, the Development Studies Unit of the Department of Social Anthropology at Stockholm University administrates a number of MFS travel grants annually for post-graduate students in social anthropology. In 1997, SIDA allocated 22 million SKR for this programme.

65Foreword to Working Papers of the Development Studies Unit in 1995. 

66Admittedly, the MFS studies are, in a number of cases, conducted within large interdisciplinary projects.

67Cult 1998/2.

68Cult 1998/4.

69Cult 1998/3.

70Cult 1998/3.

71Wright, 1998.

72Cf. Young 1993; 23-24.


74On the implications of a particular way to approach dual phenomena anthropologically, see Jerman, 1997(b).

75Cf. Sithole, 1995, 122.

76Poluha, 1998.

771995, 54.

78See professor Klausen’s critical comments on some aspects, specifically the concept of culture, in the UNESCO report (Klausen, 1997).

791995, 180. Table: Linguistic diversity: percentage of national population speaking the same language. Source: H. Müller, 1995.

801998 and, personal discussion with Professor Arvi Hurskainen, University of Helsinki. Institute of African and Asian Cultures and Languages.

81Notably, a number of 131 languages is reported by B. Grimes (1992). 

82Again, referring to Grimes (1992) they are as many as 427.

83Bovin, 1997, 1-2x.

84Guthrie, 1967, 29.

851969, 190.

86January, 1995. This is an abridged English edition of the original report to the Norwegian Ministry of Development Cooperation. The original report originated in an assignment carried out by Klausen for the MDC in 1987. It prepared a major evaluation of development aid planning and implementation, with a special focus on socio-cultural factors. Klausen writes: ‘the aim was to help to formulate guidelines with a view to incorporating socio-cultural factors as variables that are as natural and necessary as socio-economic, environmental and technical factors.’

87The conference was held in Stockholm in August 1997.

88In another context Klausen identifies the cognitive aspect of culture with ‘the so-called anthropological concept of culture’ (Klausen, 1997, 7).

89Klausen, 1995, 8-9, 15-16; 1997, 7-8.

90Klausen, 1997, 7.

91Cf. Tucker, 1996, 10.

92Waller, 1993, 296.

93See Klumpp and Krantz, 1993.

94Bohannan, 1995, 47, leaning on Robert Redfield: The Folk Cultures of Yucutan (Chicago, University of Chicago Press, 1944, 133).

95Girenko, 1993, 84-85.

96See Girenko, 1983, 32.

97An Ethiopian team (Fasil Giorghis, Nebiy Mekonnen and Yeshi Habte-Mariam) prepared a report on Finnish cooperation and case projects in Ethiopia. Similar reports were prepared in Mozambique and Vietnam.

981997, 18, my emphasis.

99Klausen, 1995, 13.

100Dahl, 1986, 20.

101I have borrowed this expression from Swantz. In Community and Village-Based Provision of Key Social Services (1997) she, among other things, explores how the gap between these two systems (used in a metaphorical sense) manifests itself in people's lives and how it is being bridged (pp. 34-40).

102Cf. Swantz who suggests that ‘traditional can be dealt with as modern; thereby, tradition can serve society in such a way that it forms an important foundation within the modern context. It is transformed to something new but at the same time anchors the present to the past and helps people's own self-integration within themselves and within society of which they are part’ (op.cit., 1997, 37). 

103Anacleti, 1996, 72: Swantz, 1997, 11; cf. Swantz, 1987, 6-7.

104Maghimbi, 1995, 23.

105Anacleti, 1994.

106Interview, 1998.

107Cf. Anacleti, 1996, 70.

108Baxter, 1991, 19.

109Interview with Mette Bovin (1998), Danish anthropologist, who has a long experience of research on the survival strategies of Fulani in areas of the semi-desert of Sub-Saharan Africa. During the severe droughts in 1969-73, 1982-84 and at present in 1998, up to 90-100% of the animals, cows, sheep, goats, rabbits and donkeys have died because of the drought. 

110Bovin, ibid.

111Cf. Wignaraja, 1981, 11.

112Anacleti, 1996, 70; cf. Forster and Maghimbi, 1995.

113Wignaraja, 1981, 19-27.

114See Swantz, 1997, 12.

115Cf. Development, Crisis... 1985. 

116Tobisson, 1986.

117See Hastrup and Elsass, 1990, 306.

118Gorman is Deputy Chief Executive at HelpAge International.

119Gorman, 1996.

120Anderson, 1996.

121Interview with Eva Poluha, 1998.

122Cf. Swantz, 1997, 4.

123On this see Ferguson, 1996.

124Retired from the London School of Economics, Professor Lewis has large experience as an anthropologist from colonial times in the 1950s to that of consultant for various development agencies in more recent times (Talle, 1995, 26).

125I checked this factor in a number of reports written during the past ten years. 

126Booth et al., 1993, 6.

127Carroll, 1996, 89.

128Comments by Fasil Giorghis, Nebiy Mekonnen, Yeshi Habte-Mariam, in Vasko et al., 1998, 3.

129It is symptomatic that the experienced anthropologist Eva Poluha in an evaluation report included a section on Attempts at overcoming time shortage. She explains in a succinct way all the phases of the evaluation and presents the solutions she found on the spot to get the work done (Poluha, 1990).

130Poluha, 1990, 20.

131Swantz, 1992, 104.

132Participation: Concept, Practice and Implications for Finnish Development Cooperation.

133See Swantz, 1997, 1-2.

134It bears noting that the major features of PR differ according to political contexts in which they are used. For an early examination of characteristics associated to PRA as well as models, strategies and implications of implementation for PRA see, Needs, Participation...1981, 104-108. 

1351997, 6.

136Interview with Kristina Bohman, anthropologist and advisor, March 1998. University of Stockholm, Department of Social Anthropology, Development Studies Unit.

137Jipemoyo was the first bilateral cultural research project in Tanzania conducted between the government and an academic institution. The project was also the Academy of Finland's first bilateral cultural project with a developing country. 

138This pertains also to the PRA. Despite its occasional use in the 1970s it has not got a foothold later. (cf. Jipemoyo. Admittedly Jipemoyo was not a ‘Development Cooperation Project’) Matti Lahtinen mentions, however, the present RIPS Project in Tanzania, to which I will return on page 47, and a ‘Water and Environment Project’ in Ethiopia (1997, 10)

139For this and the following two sections see material listed under Jipemoyo Project Archives in the list of References and, Jerman, 1997, 302-308; Mustafa, 1983; Mustafa, 1989, 110; Swantz, 1978; Swantz, 1980, 14; Swantz, 1995.

140See M. L. Swantz, 1978 (an analysis on three village seminars) and, 1995 (on the seminars on pastoralists' situation); Mustafa, 1983. 

141Utafiti uliofanyika na maofisa utamaduni (mikoa na wilaya) katika tarafa za Miono, Msata na Msoga wilayani Bagamoyo. Desemba 1976. The Jipemoyo Project, Interim Report 2. Dar es Salaam, Wizara ya Utamaduni wa Taifa na Vijana, Septemba 1977.

142The topic of the exercise was Water Supply. Seven villagers, namely two farmers, one teacher, one school youngster and three village functionaries paid specifically attention to the fact that out of nine wells in five different areas only three wells supplied small amounts of water. 

143Anacleti, 1985, 20; Swantz, 1979, 15.

144UTA 1976/55.

145A study on the development of ethnicity in Tanzania with special reference to the Bagamoyo district has since been published in the project series: Jipemoyo; Development and Culture Research 8/1997. 

146See Jipemoyo Final Reports written by Philip Donner, B.K.S. Kiyenze, Kemal Mustafa, Marja-Liisa Swantz and Ulla Vuorela. An extensive methodological examination of the project and its various parts has been carried out by a number of scientists. See especially A.O. Anacleti, John Blacking, Britha Mikkelsen, Heinz Moser and Marja-Liisa Swantz in, Jipemoyo. Development and Culture Research 4; 1981. Marja-Liisa Swantz: Jipemoyo Final Reports I-IV; Personal Report, 1979. See also Kemal Mustafa, 1989. 

147The Imusot e Purka Pastoralist Association was granted a certificate of registration under Societies Ordinance no so 9094 by the name of Chama cha Maendeleo ya Wafugaji Imusot e Purka Association in June 1997. Imusot e Purka= Consciousness of all people in the Maasai language, Maa. 

148Imusot e Purka Pastoralist Association, Handeni District, Tanga Region. March 1998, 7. (A presentation of the Association edited by Co-ordinator/Secretary Rafael Reyet ole Moono). This paper introduces extensively the background, general objectives, activities, meetings, progress plans and findings and observations of the association.

149Bakken, 1998.

150Conducting research on ‘Survival Strategies among the Akie 'Dorobo'‘ in Kiteto district to the west of Handeni, Marianne Bakken has worked closely with the coordinator of Imusot e Purka.

151Forming an important part of an anthropological research process this approach was widely supported by the researchers in the Jipemoyo project. See also Swantz, 1996, /6/.

152See Swantz, 1996, passim. She examines, among other things, Stephen A. Marglin’s characterizations of different knowledge systems and concludes that the scientific results of Participatory Action Research are ‘more an explaining how PAR works and what kind of knowledge it produces rather than showing ‘scientific results’ as such’. (1996, /16/). 

153Participatory Rural Appraisal is examined by Robert Chambers in, World Development, Vol 22, Nrs 7, 9 and 10, 1994 and in, IDS Discussion Paper 311, October 1992. 

154Chambers, 1994, 954.

155Swantz, 1996, /15/

156See Swantz, 1998, 165 and Kinyunyu and Swantz, 1996.

157Swantz, 1997, 20.

158Personal information, Swantz, July 1998.

159See Kinyunyu and Swantz, 1996, 68.

160The officers study, for example, whether the ex-prisoners are cleaned through rituals or not. This project formed part of a study on the socio-economic framework for the regions covered by the RIPS programme. 

161 See the recent RIPS publication Paths for Change, 1998


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Jipemoyo Project Archives.

Anacleti, Odhiambo. An Appraisal of Management and Administration of a Bilateral Research Project in Western Bagamoyo, Tanzania. (n.d.) (Mimeo)

The Bagamoyo Project - its Aims and Design. The Ministry of National Culture and Youth, Bagamoyo Project. April, 1976. (Mimeo)

Final Reports written by Philip Donner, B.K.S. Kiyenze, Kemal Mustafa, Marja-Liisa Swantz, Ulla Vuorela.

Utafiti Uliofanyika na Maofisa Utamaduni (Mikoa na Wilaya) katika Tarafa za Miono, Msata na Msoga Wilayani Bagamoyo. Desemba 1976. Dar es Salaam, 1977 (Mradi wa Jipemoyo, Taarifa ya kujisikiza 2)

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