Date of Award
Religious and Theological Studies
George E. Tinker, Ph.D.
Colonialism, Indigenous, Nagas, Progress, Proselytization, Worldviews
The term "progress" is a modern Western notion that life is always improving and advancing toward an ideal state. It is a vital modern concept which underlies geographic explorations and scientific and technological inventions as well as the desire to harness nature in order to increase human beings' ease and comfort. With the advent of Western colonization and to the great detriment of the colonized, the notion of progress began to perniciously and pervasively permeate across cultures.
During the classical colonial period, Western anthropologists, sociologists and others had hypothesized, or at least ardently bought into the notion, that human beings, culturally speaking, progressed from animism, to polytheism, to monotheism, and maybe beyond, to atheism. Animism, the designated religion of Indigenous Peoples, was considered the most primitive and savage form of cultural practices among human beings. Likewise, cultural evolution theorists claim that societies start out in a primitive state and gradually become more civilized over time. They determined that the culture and technology of the West illustrated the most advanced progress as opposed to indigenous culture which represented the most backward and primitive form of existing cultures.
The interaction between the Nagas and the West, beginning with British military conquest, followed by American missionary intrusion of Naga soil, has resulted in the decimation of Naga culture. Consequences are still being felt in the lack of sense of direction and confusion among Nagas today. And as other indigenous peoples whose recent history is characterized by the traumatic cultural disruption caused by colonial interference, the Nagas have long engaged in self-shame, self-negation and self-sabotage.
Well before there was a United Kingdom or United States of America Naga culture was thriving. However, when the Euro-Americans colonizers, ethnographers and missionaries, with their notion of unilinear progress and cultural evolution, came into contact with the Naga culture they had no appreciation for it. Accordingly, they stereotyped and demonized the Nagas and their culture and were determined to impose Western values thereby precipitating the demise of Naga culture. Euro-American colonialism, with its wholesale imposition of new political, religious, intellectual and cultural values, is responsible for the gradual demise of Naga culture, and it is almost a cliché to assert that since the colonial contact, the long evolved Naga traditional values are being replaced by Western values.
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Thong, Tezenlo, "A Clash of Worldviews: The Impact of Modern Western Notion of Progress on Indigenous Naga Culture" (2009). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 1383.
Received from ProQuest
Ethnic studies, Cultural anthropology, Asian history