Cultures in Crisis: Impact of Forced Relocation on Sustainability of Culture…
All cultures experience catastrophic events at some point in their history. Some cultures are able to survive these challenges,
ensuring traditional practice for future generations. Other cultures, overwhelmed by events, survive by adapting traditional
routine to immediate circumstance. Over time adaptations, once considered temporary, can override traditions and customs associated with daily life.
Sustainability of customs/traditions of daily life depend upon generational ability to safeguard tangible and intangible heritage.
Tangible heritage is “a descriptor [for] any and all human-constructed or human mediated objects…” – the material goods of culture (Bolin & Blandy, 2003, p. 249).
Intangible cultural heritage consists of “practices, presentations, expressions,…
Knowledge and skills that communities [and]…groups recognize as part of their cultural heritage” (UNESCO, 2005).
Catastrophic events place both tangible and intangible heritage at risk.
Post-crisis examination of tangible and intangible cultural indicators can provide insight into what is considered valuable by present
Members of a Cultural group, whether/how valuable possessions reflect traditional values, and to what degree ancestral heritage will be
Sustained for Future Generations.
This paper explores traditions and customs of three geographically distinct cultures threatened by catastrophic water events and
Forced relocation during the last half-century; identifies how each event threatened cultural heritage of the effected group; and traces
consequences of aftermath conditions on group’s ability to sustain/maintain its cultural roots. Cultures examined include
the Nubian people evicted from their homeland during the Nubian Aswan Dam crisis (1965-1971),
Chinese peasant population uprooted by the Three Gorges Dam Project (1994-2009),
and plight of displaced poor in New Orleans during Hurricane Katrina (2005).
Dr. Short is interested in studying factors affecting sustainability of tangible and intangible heritage of disenfranchised minority groups.
Dr. Short spent 20 years studying cultural sustainability of Guatemalan Highland peoples and subsequently became involved with UNESCO’s World Heritage sites in Egypt, Africa and China.
Dr. Short’s uses catastrophic events of recent history as a lens through which to view ways disenfranchised groups sustain cultural capitol in contemporary times.