Magazine article Geographical

What Price Progress?

Magazine article Geographical

What Price Progress?

Article excerpt

There has long been a conflict between the desire for development of people living traditional 'primitive' lifestyles and the rather paternalistic attitudes of those living in developed societies to preserve traditional ways of life. We in the West often feel a certain sadness when we see indigenous peoples in the Amazon or Borneo hunting with guns while wearing T-shirts emblazoned with corporate slogans, or sitting around watching satellite TV. We bemoan the loss of their traditional culture and would like nothing more than for them to revert to wearing animal skins and hunting with bows and arrows. But how can we deny them the trappings of a modern life that we take for granted?

This conflict is brought into sharp relief in this month's story about Chinese explorer Wong How Man's attempts to preserve a traditional Li village on the island of Hainan (page 54). The Li have been living on Hainan for about 3,000 years, but are now completely outnumbered by the dominant Han Chinese. …

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