Culture and development

Increasingly, development practitioners argue that culture needs to be taken into account in development work. However, the way that cultural processes work and affect communication, development and individual and social change are still poorly understood. Below are some resources and organisations that attempt to address cultural process in development.

This list of key resources was compiled from research carried out by Exchange. We would welcome suggestions or additions to the list: please send these to sourceassistant@hi-uk.org. There is also a 'Findings' paper based on this research, entitled, What do we do with culture? Engaging culture in development, and a Communication Initiative Drum Beat.

Selected resources

Books, reports, etc

Communications framework for HIV/AIDS : a new direction

JOINT UNITED NATIONS PROGRAMME ON HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS)
1999

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This framework, the product of a participatory research project on the use of communications for HIV prevention, finds conventional communications that focus on behaviour change limited in their scope and effectiveness. It questions the relationship between knowledge and behaviour, and the stress in ‘behaviour change’ communication on individual change. For sustainable change, the influence of a number of domains of social context need to be addressed, including: political and policy frameworks, gender, socio-economic status, spirituality and religion, and culture. It builds on these domains to create broad regional strategies for communications in Asia, Africa and Latin America and the Caribbean. Its suggestions for future national strategies combine interpersonal communication and mass media in key areas of HIV/AIDS prevention and care. It stipulates that participatory processes are central to designing and operationalising national strategies

Culture : hidden development

GOULD, Helen G
MARSH, Mary
2004

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This is a practical working guide to culture and development for the international development sector. Through research involving tracking and mapping, it explores the role of culture in the work of five UK-based international development agencies. This publication has been designed to tease out some of the issues and help the development sector to start thinking culturally and take practical steps towards acknowledging the cultural dimension to their work

Handbook for appropriate communication for behavior change. Culturally appropriate information/education/communication : elaboration and delivery

UNITED NATIONS EDUCATIONAL, SCIENTIFIC AND CULTURAL ORGANISATION (UNESCO). Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue
2001

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This handbook is part of the UNESCO initiative on HIV and culture. It deals with building culturally appropriate information/education/communication (IEC) material and processes. It aims to tailor the content and pace of action to people's beliefs, value systems, capacity to mobilise, and to modify international and national strategies and policies, project design and field work accordingly. It gives a conceptual introduction to the issue and then presents the methodological research to be carried out (evaluation of the current activities, understanding, sensitising and mobilising cultural references and resources accordingly). It then identifies proposed target audiences and their specific characteristics. It concludes by proposing appropriate IEC models combining message elaboration and delivery

HIV/AIDS stigma and discrimination : an anthropological approach. Proceedings of the round table

UNESCO. Division of Cultural Policies and Intercultural Dialogue
2003

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As part of UNESCO's work on culture and HIV/AIDS, this round table on stigma and discrimination in 2002 highlights the way stigma is rooted in and reflects existing social inequalities, and points to a need for close examination of the 'local dynamics of discrimination and solidarity' in any setting. Notes how key 'cultural resources' to fight against discrimination have often been devised principally by people infected or affected by the disease. Many institutions, on the other hand, may gain political advantage through encouraging discrimination. At the same time, constraints of poverty can encourage reactions of denial and avoidance for those facing the prospect of death of loved ones

Human development report 2004 : cultural liberty in today's diverse world

FUKUDA-PARR, Sakiko
et al
2004

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This Human Development Report focuses how development work can help build inclusive, culturally diverse societies -- both as a means to achieving other, more traditional development priorities, and as an end in itself. It examines and rejects the claim that cultural differences lead to social, economic and political conflict, and that cultural rights supercede political or economic rights (eg the right to education). The report acknowledges the importance of legislative recognition of diverse cultural backgrounds, but stipulates that, to achieve real change, political culture has to change as well: people need to think , feel and act in a way that respects and values the needs of others. Finally, it considers the threats and opportunities presented by globalisation, in terms of the intellectual property of indigenous people; cultural goods markets; and emerging and established multicultural societies

Routemapping culture and development : report on a pilot research project exploring the use of cultural approaches to development within five UK development agencies

GOULD, Helen
MARSH, Mary
2004

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This research highlights the inconsistent approach and limited explicit policy with reference to cultural activities in development, despite finding over 350 examples across five development agencies over two years. The study considers the different uses of culture in development, finding a lack of consistency in implementing projects, little understanding of how cultural processes work, and few examples of appropriate evaluation

The role of registers and databases in the protection of traditional knowledge : a comparative analysis

ALEXANDER, Merle
et al
January 2004

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This report seeks to help inform the debate regarding the potential and limitations of databases and registers for the protection traditional knowledge through the analysis of a number of case studies of existing registers established by indigenous peoples, states, non-governmental organisations and research institutes. Part I of the report discusses a number of underlying concepts regarding the nature of traditional knowledge; Part II presents case studies from Canada, India, Panama, Peru and Venezuela; Part III provides a comparative analysis of the case studies focusing on objectives, scope, procedures and benefits; Part IV considers the role of databases and registers in defensive and positive protection of traditional knowledge and their relationship to sui generis legal regimes, and the possibilities for interim protection of traditional knowledge through use of sui generis database laws and database trusts; and Part V sets down a number of conclusions and recommendations for further study

Through African eyes : culture [chapter 3] | Our common interest : report of the Commission for Africa

COMMISSION FOR AFRICA
March 2005

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Chapter 3 of the Report of the Commission for Africa explores how a number of aspects of African cultures impact on a range of areas of policy making. Challenges some misunderstandings about African history, and asserts that culture is dynamic and adaptive, rather than static bounded 'tradition' as it is often assumed. Considers Africa's great diversity and creativity, and considers the role of the range of networks, including religious networks, in African development processes

Utz´ Wach´il : health and well being among indigenous peoples

BRISTOW, Fiona
Ed
2003

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In this document indigenous people from different parts of the world describe their beliefs and attitudes to health and well being and what they do when they have problems with their health. It aims to provide further evidence of the health challenges facing indigenous peoples so that policy makers and service providers can work more effectively with them to improve their health and well being

What do we do with culture? Engaging culture in development

VINCENT, Robin
March 2005

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This short briefing paper gives a critical overview of recent attempts to engage culture in development work, and in HIV and AIDS work in particular. It also outlines a range of insights from anthropological work that relate to understanding and addressing culture in development. Areas covered include moving beyond a focus on the individual in analysis of change, looking beyond the local setting only, considering the role of the organisational culture of development institutions, valuing indigenous knowledge, and looking at the way mobilising culture and cultural resources is intimately linked to power relations

Working from within : culturally sensitive approaches in UNFPA programming

UNITED NATIONS POPULATION FUND (UNFPA)
2004

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The nine case studies presented in this brochure are drawn from a longer UNFPA report entitled, "Culture Matters: Working with Communities and Faith-based Organizations". It highlights the necessity of mainstreaming cultural analysis and sensitivity in development efforts addressing issues such as gender equality and equity, HIV/AIDS, female genital cutting, gender-based violence and reproductive health. Presents an outline of key principles for working within cultures in a culturally sensitive way, and briefly looks at examples of programming in a number of countries highlighting what works in each case

Websites

AIDS and culture (UNESCO portal)

UNESCO

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This is a joint UNESCO and UNAIDS initiative that draws on anthropological perspectives. This initiative has led to a number of specific country studies, and a range of methodological manuals coming out of this work, and a roundtable meeting on an anthropological approach to stigma. These and many more resources are available through this portal

Creative Exchange : the network for culture and development

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Creative Exchange is a network, resource centre, and professional resource for practitioners and organisations in the culture and development field, and advocates using the arts for social change. The website includes two searchable databases: one of about 500 organisations, and the other of about 100 printed resources (some available online)

Engaging culture in development

VINCENT, Robin
January 2005

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Considers the definition of culture as it has been referred to in social development discussions, how development projects are affected by culture and how culture is and can best be engaged in development projects. Draws on the Exchange 'Findings' paper on this topic

IK pages

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This gateway promotes the integration of indigenous knowledge (IK) in development. Highlights news and resources on IK. Information sharing is crucial in the IK-network's strategy, which allows the diversity of knowledge to play its appropriate role in community-based and participatory approaches for development.

Panos

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This is the website of the Panos network, which works with the media and other communicators to foster debate on under-reported, misrepresented or misunderstood development issues. Panos includes, and advocates for the inclusion of, the voices and views of those most affected by these issues - usually the poorest and most marginalised people in society - in order to find lasting solutions. There are eight Panos institutes around the world, each of which has its own website

Suriname indigenous health fund (SIH Fund)

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This is the website for a project which gives indigenous people in Suriname's interior Greenstone Belt region with the materials and technical support they need to self-diagnose the effects of mercury pollution from gold-mining on their community's and their environment's health

Organisations

Creative Exchange

UK

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56-64 Leonard Street London EC2A 4LT

Creative Exchange is a network of people and organisations who use or support arts and culture in sustainable development. CE collects and distributes information to professionals and the public about practice and policy, and provides information about training, jobs and funding opportunities. CE also undertakes lobbying activities for the appropriate and effective use of arts and culture for social change and promotes awareness and respect for cultural rights

Health Unlimited

UK

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Unit 6 Park Place
12 Lawn Lane
London SW18 1UD

Health Unlimited supports poor people in their efforts to achieve better health and well-being. It gives priority to the most excluded and vulnerable, in particular indiginous people and communities affected by conflict and political instability. It works in Asia, Africa and Latin America on long term programmes to strengthen health systems and promote community health. Also works in development communications, particularly in the use of radio to address health issues