It's been called "pride of place"; "cultural confidence", and "validating traditional methods" but the idea was first introduced to me as "cultural retrieval" by Dr. Joseph Palacio of the University of West Indies in Belize.

I played a small part in Cultural Retrieval Project 2 (1989) in Hopkins Village, Belize. The Garifuna, an indigenous people, were concerned about loss of culture. They were faced with the immediacy of crafts people dying with their unique knowledge.

Dr. Palacio, a member of the Belize-Newfoundland Linkage, decided to request videotaping assistance from Memorial University of Newfoundland Extension Service. In Belize, I taped crafts skills sessions, religious ceremonies and cultural celebrations. The tapes were later edited for the Garifuna people.

Back in Newfoundland, I began to pay more attention to the cultural aspects of our community development work. For example, it became essential to actively solicit local music for use in video productions.

But it seems to me that cultural retrieval means much more; it is respecting and validating local knowledge and ways of doing things. In a world of centralized management/mono-culture, it's easy to accept that because we're different, we are inferior. Whether unwittingly or not, American media is destroying local cultures worldwide - particularly with advertising creating unrealistic expectations and dissatisfaction.

I'm not suggesting the archival collecting of history/culture for its own sake. Rather, the focus should be on development of pride in culture.

A collective sense of individuality and worth cannot help but lead to resistance of mass media "brainwashing" (and neocolonial government decisions) and also lead to independent analysis and decision-making regarding the future.

This, to me, is the value of "cultural retrieval" or "pride of place".

If there is to be a humane future way-of-life for all, we must recognize that bureaucratic attempts, of whatever ideology, to reduce human lives to statistical analysis is wrong.

Current archaic, blind beliefs that a good life can only be achieved through individual materialism can be, and should be, contradicted by positive alternatives.

In other words, there is no need for the acquisition of private wealth to be the main goal of human existance. Indeed, for many people in rural communities worldwide, the goal of monetary wealth is unrealistic and self defeating.

Foreign values from media and advertising lead people to become dissatisfied with their own lives.

It would seem the best way to get control of a people is to replace their culture and individuality with a homogeneous master culture. Such people, dissatisfied and insecure, are easy to lead about - especially if the orders or suggestions come from the dominant culture.

Conversely, helping people to regain a pride of individuality and culture must ensure a process of thinking-for-oneself and so an aware decision-making.

Surely this must maximize control at the local, community level.

Ryakuga does not support development which replaces local knowledge and values with imported educational, economic and cultural systems. We do support the realization of rural communities and indigenous ways of life.

Promoting cultural retrieval as a way of strengthening local pride and confidence in the future is a primary focus of the work of Ryakuga.


Among the troubles third world nations face today are two "flow" problems - the flow of foreign culture and values into developing nations via mass media; and the flow of population out of these countries and into the more developed centres of the north.

Many media planners and government authorities in the third world nations worry about the economic consequence of imported television programs and the resulting effects on traditional consumption patterns (UNCTAD, 1978).

However, the dominating influence of western culture has caused many third world people to turn away from their own culture and traditions... Not only has a rich cultural heritage been replaced by a homogeneous consumer-oriented culture, but there is an alarming degree of cultural alienation experienced by the people, especially the young. (Third World - Development or Crisis? Third World Network, Penang, Malaysia: 1984, p. 57.)

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