Proceedings of the 59th Annual Meeting of the ISSS - 2015 Berlin, Germany, Vol 1, No 1 (2015)

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Balancing Individualism and Collectivism in an Australian Aboriginal Context

Keith Miller

Abstract


Epochs have occurred throughout the history of the earth. A move from one epoch to the next can be considered to occur when there is a major transition which has a geological impact on all of life. A transition from the Holocene to the Anthropocene is now considered to have occurred in about the year 1800 with the Industrial Revolution. Dramatic changes to global conditions have occurred in a little over 200 years since then, with the consequent impact on the environment and all living things. Along with a geological change, a cultural transition has occurred. An individualistically oriented style of thinking has come to prominence with an objectification and exploitation of the environment. Yet, amongst Indigenous cultures, this change has not taken place. They retain a collectivist style of thinking and behavior and a deep respect for the land and all it contains. One of the values we can gain as participants in the Anthropocene is a recognition of these different types of knowledge existing in cohabitation, a comfortableness with an individualistic and relational identity occurring alongside each other. How much more valuable for this epoch to become an inclusive era when the collectivist perspectives from Indigenous cultures are appreciated alongside individualistic perspectives of developed nations?


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