Cultural traditions and sustainable rural livelihoods : a case study from the Kandyan villages, central Sri Lanka
Daskon, Chandima D.
Considerable attention has been directed recently towards the role of culture and traditional values in the sustainable well-being of rural communities. Development scholars seem to have accepted that cultural attributes and values actually matter in development, but there is still much debate over 'how', 'why' and 'where' they matter. This thesis explores the significance of cultural traditions and the roles they play in the context of attaining sustainable rural livelihoods. The hegemony of 'Western values' is contested and the need for greater appreciation of 'other', non-Western values and traditions is emphasised. The research specifically explores how cultural traditions can support a livelihood perspective in pragmatic and more effective ways, whereby tangible and intangible aspects of culture and traditional values can be explicitly treated as an important resource, namely 'cultural capital' . Drawing upon evidence from field-based research in five craft-working villages in the Kandy region of central Sri Lanka, the study shows how culture and traditional values play a significant role in influencing livelihood choices, asset ownership, livelihood resilience and sustainability. The study utilises qualitative research methods with participatory techniques to evaluate 'how' people recognise and interpret their culture and traditional values, and 'what' specific roles these play in contributing to sustainable livelihood systems. It is suggested that the evaluation of livelihood assets through a cultural perspective provides a valuable and nuanced understanding of a community's genuine strengths and resource endowments and how these are, or might be, converted into livelihood outcomes . In addition to contributing to academic research and development planning in Sri Lanka, the thesis has wider relevance for development studies and livelihood analysis, and proposes future strategies for incorporating culture more effectively into development interventions which might hopefully lead to sustainable livelihoods.
Advisor: Binns, Tony; McGregor, Andrew
Degree Name: Doctor of Philosophy
Degree Discipline: Geography
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis