"Life Abroad Is Entirely Different",
a review by Carroll Quigley in The Washington Sunday Star, June
of a book:
TRADITIONAL CULTURES: And the Impact of Technological Change,
by George M. Foster.
New York: Harper and Brothers, 1962
"Life Abroad Is Entirely Different"
TRADITIONAL CULTURES: And the Impact of Technological Change.
By George M. Foster.
Harper & Bros.; $6.30.
Over the last 20 years there has been an increasing
demand for trained Americans to work overseas in various foreign aid programs.
Originally the major part of these people were technicians in health, medicine,
or engineering, and academic persons from economics and political science. Over
the years it has become evident that even the best people in these disciplines
found unexpected obstacles in the exotic nature of foreign cultures and alien
minds and achieved success in their endeavors to a degree much less than their
training or talents would seem to warrant.
With this recognition has come realization of a second point, that certain
persons trained in anthropology or possibly only in personal kindness and common
sense have achieved surprising results with relatively limited resources.
A Different Culture
It is now quite evident that the man whose training, however excellent, is
restricted to our own culture is almost fatally handicapped in development work
in a different culture, while, on the other hand, an anthropologist, whose
cultural training is on a comparative basis from the beginning, has decisive
advantage in achieving the often simple, modifications of customs which the
encouragement of development requires.
This recognition has released from the presses a flood of books which seek to
point out to non-anthropologists the key points which seem to characterize the
anthropological point of view in development work.
An Excellent Study
Prof. Foster of the University of California has given us one of the best of
these books. It is brief; its chief points are specific; it is based on wide
personal experience in development work; the applications of its rules are
illustrated by numerous references to the experiences of himself and friends,
and it shows a healthy recognition that he has learned what he knows the hard
way, by recognizing his own early errors and misconceptions in the field.
Anyone who is going to work in a different culture on a development project will
be successful only to the extent that he arrives with the comparative
(anthropological) point of view and is able to profit from his own experiences
in the field, especially from his errors.
He can start this double process before he leaves home by reading this book.
If he still has time left, he might then go on to read a book whose inspiration
goes back to Foster, Charles J. Erasmus: "Man Takes Control; Cultural
Development and American Aid” (University of Minnesota Press, 1961)
-- Carroll Quigley.
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