Home Institution

Middlebury College

Publication Date

Spring 2009

Program Name

Mali: Gender, Health, and Development


For my Independent Study Project (ISP) I focused my research on struggling to understand the relationship between development and culture in an isolated community. I chose to study the Dogon people located in Sangha, Mali and spent 17 days studying and living among them. By conducting a series of interviews daily, I explored the land and the hearts of the people in order to obtain a meaningful understanding of their culture as well as, to acquire first hand knowledge of the ongoing development.

My paper begins by analyzing general definitions and discourses of both culture and development. I then detail my research methods and give a comprehensive background on the study area and people. Finally, the report funnels into the development and culture of the distinctive Dogon people and the specific areas in which development has impacted culture in areas including education, religion, community associations and heath care systems. I conclude that by examining the current development of and understanding the unique culture of the Dogon people in Sangha, Mali, I have altered my previous beliefs--that development ultimately destroys a culture--to understand that while development will inevitably cause a change in culture, the Dogon people have integrated these changes into their society allowing certain aspects to merge and others to endure.


Growth and Development | Sociology of Culture


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