Enduring Issues: Conflict Between Traditional Culture and Modernization

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An enduring issue is one that many groups across time have attempted to solve with wildly varying degrees of success. There are several enduring issues, such as the impact of cultural diffusion, or that of imperialism, presented by the documents, however, arguably the most significant enduring issue that can be identified through these documents is, the tensions between traditional culture and modernization.

The enduring issue of tensions between traditional culture and modernization, can involve many things over a broad spectrum however, the most common themes are, identity, tradition and modernization, and gender roles. These themes can be found both in Rammohun Roy’s complaints about the education system being installed at the time by the British in India, “We were filled with Sanguine hopes that this sum would be laid out in employing European Gentlemen of talents and education… We now find that the Government are establishing a Sanskrit school under Hindu Pundits to impart such knowledge as is already-current in India,” (Doc 1) as well as in the writings of Kwame Nkrumah on the idea of pan-Africanism and African identity, “...we are all Africans,” (Doc 2) and in Samuel Huntington’s writings on the theoretical ‘clash of civilizations,’ which would be centered around differences in cultural, religious, and ethnic identities, and that throughout the 21st-century the world would be, “...dominated by disputatious cultural blocs.” (Doc 3) Along with these texts, these themes can be found in the image depicting ‘International Women’s Day’ in 1979 in Iran, with women from all walks of life protesting the decree by Ayatollah Khomeini that all women had to wear the veil. (Doc 5) Each of these documents can provide some context for the enduring issue, especially regarding the wide range it covers as it is not solely focused on technological advancements or tradition against modernization, but instead, those are only parts of the greater general issue, change. Whether it be religious, cultural, or gender-based, this issue truly revolves around change and how those experiencing it react to it.

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This issue is significant because change is ongoing and unceasing, it has endured and will always endure and moreover, given that change is constant, people are of course then affected by it constantly. Whether we define the change as progressive, like that of pan-Africanism (Doc 2), or regressive, like that of a legal requirement to wear a form of clothing solely for religious purposes (Doc 5) each of these changes, whether occurring in daily-life or simply as theoretical ideas of what could be, affect people. Change is continuous and unstoppable, modernity and tradition are relative, today we have ‘modern’ traditions that within maybe just 10 years, will be outdated and perhaps even looked down upon, perhaps it may even spark arguments and deep tensions, one can never be certain.

Although there are many enduring issues that can be found in these documents, such as those of the impact of cultural diffusion, or that of imperialism it should be clear to most that the most prominent and important enduring issue to be found in the documents is, the tensions between traditional culture and modernization, as each document involves at least one of the many underlying nested issues. In short, change is an unstoppable, unabating, force for both ‘good’ and ‘bad,’ with wide-reaching effects that never allow it to be as clear-cut as one may hope. 

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