If planners are to recognize and face the pernicious consequences
of their development programs, then social scientists will have
to provide them with more comprehensive social models that reveal
the true costs of interfering with the human ecosystem.
Every act of development involves, of necessity, an act of destruction.
This destruction — social, ecological, or both — is
seldom accounted for in development projects, despite the fact that
it may entail costs that far outweigh the benefits arising from
the development. And I use the term development here to cover all
those activities usually incorporated under such terms as economic,
educational, and agricultural planning and development.
As I shall discuss in this article the failure to account fully
for such costs arises from the use of only partial social models
by the development planner. He has not been provided with the conceptual
goals by which he may discover the total social and ecological costs
of a project. If the development planner were provided with more
adequate cost-benefit conceptual tools so that the costs of the
all-too-frequent pernicious social and ecological consequences were
adequately accounted for, it is my belief that some development
schemes would be terminated and most revised to mitigate these unacceptable
I believe the fault lies with the social scientist, if anyone,
for not supplying the development planner with more adequate social
models. Nor has he described what social models he does provide
in a language of costs that is congruent with the level of analysis
of the planner. In one sense the development planner and the social
scientist are dealing with different, unconnected exchange systems,
one based on money and the other based on certain limited aspects
of social behavior. Therefore, before the planner can be convinced
of the pernicious costs of development, the social scientist must
develop more adequate models and translate them into the language
of costs as used in the programs of the development planners.
Three components I wish to discuss here would contribute to a
more complete social model for development planning: the ecosystem,
the indigenous knowledge of the ecosystem, and the social system
as a mechanism of adaptation.
Considering the total ecosystem
The first element ignored in the partial models of the development
planners is the total ecosystem in which the development takes place.
Every human society resides in a complex ecosystem and is linked
with that ecosystem in an intricate network of exchanges. This network
may be fragile or flexible. But each development act threatens the
existence of this interrelationship, even if it be only the simple
act of introducing new ideas in schools which destroy the indigenous
perception of this interlinkage.
One aspect of ecosystem degradation, pollution, is now belatedly
being recognized and methods are being developed to determine its
costs. But there is still too little data on the costs of what has
been called the ecological boomerang effect, which arises when a
development act throws an ecosystem out of balance, and there is
counteraction by forces with the ecosystem that vitiates the gains
of the development project. For instance it has been pointed out
that construction of the High Dam on the Upper Nile might well prove
a liability rather than an asset through the increased spread of
schistosomiasis. But we have no data on this in terms of the costs
for its control or in terms of the resultant loss in productivity
so that there is no way to determine what the real cost-benefits
of the dam development project are.
There is another crucial aspect of ecological degradation stemming
from development that has yet to be fully discussed in the environment
of development discourse. This is the extinction of various species
of flora and fauna. At present it is hard to determine the full
cost to humanity produced by the loss of an animal or plant species
as no one has mustered the necessary evidence. Consequently, to
illustrate the costs of such extinctions I shall have to phrase
the problem in terms of potentialities and contrasting values.
Each ecosystem contains a unique inventory of wild flora and fauna.
Looking at the world as a single ecosystem — it has also been
cogently viewed as a spaceship with limited resources — the
inventory of flora and fauna that has evolved over eons of time
is in serious danger of depletion. Within the past 2000 years 110
species of mammals alone have ceased to exist and in the past 200
years 600 species have declined to the point of extinction.1 My
position on this is that the survival of the human race as a whole
is threatened when any development project contributes to the extinction
of any one species of plant or animal. This is because the extinction
of any species diminishes man’s ability to adapt to future
conditions in the biosphere. Let me illustrate this by some examples
of new uses to which the wild flora and fauna of the world are being
New uses for flora and fauna
Musk ox are being domesticated in Alaska to serve as an economic
basis for developing herding communities on the underpopulated tundra
areas.2 It has also been pointed out that the African game animals
are more productive of animal protein than the cattle replacing
them and that these wild ungulates could better serve as a valuable
source of protein food.3 As a final example, the manatee which is
one of the world’s endangered species has been discovered
to be a more efficient controller of the water hyacinth, which clogs
our inland waterways, than chemical or mechanical methods.4 Unfortunately,
they have been hunted almost to extinction.
Wild species of animals have another utility that highlights even
more starkly their potential contribution towards helping the human
race adapt to the biosphere. This is for medical research, where
there is a continuing search for animal species in which human diseases
and abnormalities can be induced for experimental purposes. Without
monkeys, our control over poliomyelitis would not have been developed
as rapidly. Cancer in hamsters has produced rewarding results for
our understanding and control of human cancer. The discovery that
armadillos can develop leprosy offers hope that eventually there
will be a breakthrough in research on this disease5 and it has been
recently reported that, after a 150-year effort by researchers,
government scientists at the Center for Disease Control have successfully
infected chimpanzees with gonorrhea. This development of an experimental
animal model for human gonococcal urethritis is considered a major
advance in dealing with this disease which is believed to exist
in pandemic proportions in the U.S.A. It has also been discovered
that baboon livers can be used temporarily to provide the opportunity
for human livers to rest and recover in cases of hepatic coma and
liver failure.6 Thus the declining primate populations throughout
the world represent a serious threat to medical research.
In addition, there is the need to study models of human disease
and abnormalities in animals which do not contract the human diseases
but which display those impairments that closely duplicate the human
illness. For instance, the fox squirrel has been found to provide
an animal model for the study of congenital erythropoietic porphyria,
a hereditary disease in humans.7 This field of comparative medicine
is so underdeveloped that to deplete our resources before they have
been adequately studied is indeed foolish.
The conclusion that man’s capacity to adapt is lessened
by the loss of any of the world’s fauna also applies to the
extinction of any species of flora. For we do not know to what uses
a species may yet be put. One example of the unexpected value of
flora for man’s survival is the recent discovery that certain
gymnosperms have compounds that display anti-cancer activity. This
discovery has led to a world-wide search for other species of gymnosperms
that may have similar compounds.8
But there is perhaps a more immediate threat to man’s ability
to adapt through the loss of indigenous cultivars. These cultivars
have provided, and can continue to provide, a genetic pool from
which new crossbred and hybrid varieties of crops are designed for
resistance to new plant disease and for greater productivity. But
few of these are being collected and studied to determine what contributions
they might make to the development of higher yielding, more disease-resistant
varieties. Few indeed are being preserved in genetic banks against
the day when a new challenge appears from new disease agents.9 Yet
these indigenous cultivars are being displaced and permanently lost
in all parts of the world by agricultural experts who introduce
the more developed, genetically refined varieties of cultivars from
the more advanced countries.9, 10, 11
In summary, the flora and fauna of the less developed regions
of the world are being destroyed by development projects before
they have been analyzed for the contributions that they can make
to human welfare. Yet they are the mechanisms on which man may have
to depend at some future point in order to adapt to a changing world.
I believe that one of the reasons that this problem has not been
sufficiently recognized is that the ecologists, plant breeders,
and medical personnel have not phrased this problem in terms of
costs and potential benefits. Consequently those who ultimately
decide the fate of development projects do not have the necessary
tools with which to make decisions. For example, I believe that
the benefits of a full use of the genetic resources of the indigenous
cultivars of Southeast Asia might conservatively be put in terms
of billions of dollars per year in increased agricultural production.
With regard to rice alone, crossbreeding experiments with indigenous
varieties have raised the yield per hectare from 1 or 1.5 tones
to 6 or 8 tons.12 Yet other indigenous varieties are being rapidly
lost as peoples from the interior regions move to development projects
and give up their indigenous agricultural system.
In this regard, the situation in Borneo is one for particular
concern. Without doubt, Borneo is one of the few remaining untouched
reservoirs of germ plasm from indigenous cultivars. Yet many of
these indigenous varieties are rapidly being replaced without any
effort to conserve their unique genetic resources. Many of the ecotypes
are being lost as a result of the movement of rural farmers to the
growing urban centers. But for all of Borneo, I know of only two
attempts to assess these genetic resources, and these were limited
ones focusing on a narrow range or rice varieties.
Culture-specific knowledge of the ecosystem
The next component missing from the partial social models of the
development planner is the inventory of knowledge on the ecosystem
owned by the society being developed. I use the term “owned”
specifically to indicate that it is a valuable asset. But before
I discuss the part that the culture-specific knowledge of an ecosystem
has to play in a more complete social model for development, let
me expand my definition of the development act, for in doing so
I can portray with greater definition the pernicious effects of
development. A development act is any act by an individual who is
not a member of a local society that devalues or displaces the perception
by the members of that society of their relationship with their
natural and social world. By this definition we can include in the
act of development planning the local school teacher, the local
doctor as well as the economic, agricultural, and education experts
who work in the major centers of the developing country and who
are ultimately responsible for the lower-level acts.
In addition to destroying local knowledge, such acts serve to
undermine the self-esteem held by the members of the society, and
this may produce pernicious stresses within that society.13
The act of education assumes that the teacher has knowledge or
skills to impart to pupils who do not have, at least within the
educational environment, anything equivalent to offer in exchange.
However, the knowledge and skills imparted by the teacher are derived
from the more sophisticated centers of the country and have little
or no relevance to the local ecosystem in which the education act
occurs; except in that they may encourage the pupils to accept an
exploitative view of the natural world derived from the value system
of the Western nations. As local knowledge is not included in the
educational process, its relative status is implicitly devalued,
if not explicitly in certain cases.
For example, during the field session of one anthropologist working
in Borneo, a new school was built within walking distance of his
field station. The pupils were told by the new teacher and the Chinese
shop owners in the area where the school was located that they could
not wear their native dress or carry their belongings to school
in their native baskets. Instead they were told to buy shirts, shorts,
and school bags from the local stores. Thus began the slow process
of disarticulation of these people from their ecosystem. Their native
dress, tailored both from cloth purchased at the shops and from
cloth they weave themselves from their own cotton, will give way
to manufactured clothing which requires a greater cash outlay. And
to obtain this cash, these people must become more closely articulated
to the national cash economy through taking up wage labor rather
than maintaining their tradition of being small, independent farmers.
As a result, their agricultural products used in clothing manufacture
will no longer be raised, and the forest products formerly used
to make a variety of basketry materials will be forgotten as well
as the skills and knowledge needed to produce these.
Furthermore, other important skills linked with the ecosystem
in which they live will also be replaced by nonfunctional but “modern”
skills. For example, the school teachers for a local district fair
taught the school children to do calisthenics rather than encouraging
them to put on a demonstration of athletic skills that they themselves
must learn either to survive in their environment or which they
engage in for pleasure, such as climbing bee trees, spear throwing,
felling trees, leg wrestling, and so forth.
Another example of the destruction of valuable indigenous knowledge
and its replacement with inferior knowledge was provided by the
actions of the head of a missionary-run agricultural school. He
told one anthropologist that he was going to teach the local people
to plant fruit trees, as these would provide a valuable supplement
to their diet. The anthropologist, however, had to point out to
the missionary that the local people, as most people in Borneo,
cultivated a variety of fruit trees, and he then pointed to valuable
groves of fruit trees scattered over the landscape, some of which
had a history of ownership going back seven generations. Anyone
who knows how to “read” the jungle can pick out from
a distance these groves of fruit trees standing in the midst of
the forest along the hillsides.
The anthropologist then asked this supervisor of agricultural
training to identify certain grains cultivated by the local people.
But he was unable to. However, because of his high status as head
of the agricultural school and teacher, his vastly inferior agricultural
knowledge will be transmitted to the local school children to replace
that which arose from thousands of years of accumulated agricultural
experience in their own ecosystem. In this manner these people will
become disarticulated from their ecosystem to the detriment of themselves
and mankind as a whole. For with their accumulated experience displaced
by an inferior knowledge, they are less able to adapt to the challenges
of their ecosystem. And with the loss of their knowledge of their
ecosystem, with the replacement of their crops and fruit trees by
those from outside, mankind loses another part of its inventory
of knowledge and tools that was won by trial and error over many
Our eroding heritage
A further striking example of the way in which local peoples become
disarticulated from their ecosystem by acts of development is provided
by the same missionaries who operate the agricultural school. The
local people living in the vicinity of the school believe that groves
of trees along river banks, in ravines, and around springs have
indwelling spirits who will become angered if this forest is cut
in the preparation of dry rice fields. Thus these spirits will vent
their anger on those involved in such forest cuttings and cause
them to become ill. The missionaries told these local people that
if they became Christians, they would be protected from such spirits.
Furthermore, the missionaries argued that they then could not only
cultivate these virgin areas with impunity but also, by taking advantage
of the rich soil, make a “lot of money” from the higher
agricultural yields that would be produced.
However, the local people believe that in addition to angering
these indwelling spirits, their land will become hot and dry up
if they cut these groves. Thus they demonstrate that they have a
greater knowledge of cause and effect in their agricultural system,
congruent, it should be added, with modern concepts of agriculture,
than did the missionaries who staffed the agricultural school.
The point here is that a society inhabiting a specific ecosystem
must deal with that system and, in destroying the indigenous knowledge
of the ecosystem, the developers are lessening the ability of the
local society to adapt to it. This is illustrated nicely by the
following observations of the Timugon Murut of Sabah who have now
taken up rubber planting.14
The change to a cash-economy has, as usual, proved a mixed blessing.
While it enables people to survive a bad rice-harvest without too
much difficulty, and while it has brought such commodities as penicillin
and zinc-roofing within their reach, it has also caused the disappearance
of such arts as weaving of hats, mats and baskets, since all these
articles are readily obtainable in the shops... Moreover, the availability
of cheap tinned foods from the same source has led to the large-scale
abandonment, not only of the traditional hunting and fishing activities,
but also of the traditional methods of preserving emergency stocks
of food (i.e., by fermenting meat or fish with rice, or by roasting
and smoking pork, venison, game, etc.). The resulting unbalanced
diet has produced a greater incidence of diet-deficiency diseases
than formerly. More importantly, those households which are now
dependent on shop-foods are often placed in considerable distress
when the cash-income fails through e.g.) illness or a fall in the
price of rubber.
One of the more cruel aspects of this problem is that children
of societies being developed frequently are those most damaged.
In addition to their loss of the psychological stabilizing effect
of a coherent cultural tradition, Gokulanathan and Verghese report
that the loss of traditional knowledge and techniques for dealing
with chid rearing and diet results in nutritional deprivation and
growth retardation in children.15 Thus development can in fact increase
The Westernized mind and the “savage”
These examples and others which I shall give shortly suggest that
the inferior status conferred on the members of the simpler societies
of developing countries, on the more “primitive” peoples,
is in fact an artifact of the Western-educated mind. The Westernized
mind, produced by all industrializing societies today, perceives
these people as being inferior. As a result this makes them inferior.
Teachers from the more “sophisticated” sectors of a
national society, or from foreign, more developed countries, trained
in a Western-model of education, drive out the local knowledge and
skills. They replace this indigenous knowledge with their incomplete,
Western-based knowledge and skills, which may be quite inappropriate
for dealing with the conditions the indigenous people must face.
As a result the local people are left in possession of inferior
knowledge and skills, and actually become less able to cope and
hence inferior to people from the sophisticated or Westernized sections
of the society. This conclusion can be supported by another example
from the activities of certain missionaries who have provided the
local peoples with clothing discarded from the urban centers of
the West. These garments displace the native dress and become tangible
and visible symbols of the inferiority of the local peoples. This
product of a distorted Christian ethic creates out of its own lack
of tolerance for the customs of other peoples the very inferiority
that the Westernized mind wishes to find in order to justify its
own, but nevertheless inappropriate, world view.
Thus, in a very real sense the Western-educated individual needs
the “savage” to support his own self-image, to demonstrate
psychologically that he carries a superior culture, for only by
devaluing the members of local societies can he support his questionable
claims for superiority. But as I have pointed, out this world view
has economic ramifications, and I am reluctantly forced to conclude
that perhaps the “radical anthropologists” are right
when they take the position that development is just another form
of imperialism by Western nations. For development does make the
indigenous peoples bound to and irreversibly dependent on the Western
economic system by destroying their indigenous knowledge and abilities
to adapt to their ecosystem.
But when any society loses its skills and knowledge in adapting
to an ecosystem, it is not the only loser; the whole human race
is. Can we be certain that the methods of adaptation discovered
and invented over thousands of years of experimentation will be
rediscovered, reinvented at some future point when they may have
crucial importance for man’s adaptation to his biosphere?
For example, Felger and Moser have recently pointed out that the
seeds of eelgrass, formerly collected and eaten by the Seri Indians
of Sonoro, Mexico, do in fact hold considerable potential as a human
food source.16 They note that this is the first instance to their
knowledge of the grain of an ocean plant being used as a human food
resource and conclude that it possesses considerable ecological
value as a crop plant because fresh water, artificial fertilizer,
and pesticides would be unnecessary for its cultivation.
Learning from non-Western medicine
The point is that Western man never seems to have learned his
lesson, and therefore he is doomed to constantly repeat it, while
at the same time his teachers are rapidly becoming extinct. We frequently
resist the knowledge of less advanced peoples, incorporating it
informally into our own culture only centuries after it was first
presented; in other instances we reject it outright only to rediscover
it later by our “scientific” techniques. For example,
the Indians of Montana thought that Rocky Mountain fever was caused
by tick bites, but the early settlers tended to believe it was from
drinking water from melted snow until 1906 when the Indian assumption
was finally confirmed. Recent experimentation with biofeedback has
demonstrated that the mind can indeed control what are normally
considered involuntary bodily functions, yet this was claimed by
Yogi centuries ago but dismissed by the Western materialist mind
But in the majority of instances, Westernized man and his new
industrial society destroy the indigenous books of knowledge, casting
aside the potential contributions to the knowledge of all mankind
as being superstitions and evidences of “primitive”
mentality. We do not systematically attempt to collect this knowledge
before it is lost, before the indigenous peoples lose their culture
and become articulated to the modern world. (I do not mean to imply
here that the Westernized mind is restricted to its classic cultural
area. We are now finding a new form of colonialism, a decentralized
colonialism, sometimes practiced by the Western-educated elites
of Third World countries who view their less economically developed
countrymen as illiterate savages with nothing to offer their country’s
growth and evolution.)
We are destroying indigenous knowledge
This point is vividly illustrated in the destruction of indigenous
pharmacopoeias and chemotherapeutic knowledge. As indigenous pharmacopoeias
are based on native belief systems, missionaries and educators destroy
knowledge of these inventories of drugs in their attempts to supplant
the indigenous belief systems with Christian beliefs or “modern”
beliefs, not realizing in their arrogance that the germ theory of
disease causation to which they subscribe is really only a folk
belief of their own native society and is now under considerable
The introduction of Western medicine is also one of the major
destroyers of the indigenous chemotherapeutic knowledge. The success
of cures by antibiotics, but particularly the attitude of physicians
to the indigenous medical belief systems, puts the native pharmacopoeia
into disrepute, and it slowly erodes away. Yet before the development
of synthetic products to duplicate the properties of natural drugs
there were more than 200 drugs in the “United States Pharmacopoeia”
that were derived from the American Indians.17, 18 The number of
native discovered drugs incorporated into Western medicine is astounding,
yet today we systematically destroy at each cultural frontier such
indigenous knowledge. For example, I know of no ethnobotanical expedition
to Borneo for the purpose of inventorying the local pharmacopoeias,
and yet these are rapidly disappearing.
The value of knowledge from indigenous people about their ecosystem
and its uses in medical treatment is also illustrated by the fact
that psychiatric medicine has within the past two decades benefited
from psychopharmacological agents originally derived from non-Western
medicine systems, and I would estimate that native neuroleptics
still offer one of the most important but largely untapped psychopharmacological
resources.18 And finally to conclude, a further striking example
of the value of this knowledge is reported by Tabrah, Kashiwagi,
and Norton.19 On the suggestion of “an elderly woman of Hawaiian
race who had experienced many of the native Hawaiian medical practices”
a tropical sea worm was tested for antitumor activity and found
to inhibit tumor growth in treated mice. According to their informant,
indigenous “cancer patients had shown clinical improvement
after drinking an infusion of cooked sea worm tentacles daily for
several weeks.” Another native Hawaiian anticancer method
involved sucking the body fluid of live sea worms through a fine
The social system as an adaptive mechanism
The social system a society has constructed over thousands of
years of trial and error is also a mechanism of adaptation, not
only to the physical environment but also to the social environment
in which the society is embedded. This system provides a mechanism
by which the members can satisfy their social, psychological and
biological needs. But as it is changed by development, or changed
in response to outside pressures, it loses its former integration
and therefore its ability to provide a satisfactory method of adaptation
for its members. It begins to malfunction, and as a result its members
become less able to cope at all levels — social, psychological
and biological — until a new level of adaptation and integration
is reached; many societies never reach this new level.
I have called the pressure that a malfunctioning social system
puts on its members stress. This is the one final component that
developers leave out of their planning models. For as development
occurs, as the society is forced to change, stress arises in the
population as it loses it past ways of coping, as its social mechanism
for coping disintegrates and is no longer able to do the job. Scudder
gives a striking example of what can happen. He reports that in
the relocation of peoples for the Kariba Dam project there was a
mortality rate in one group of 10% within 18 months of relocation.20
And mortality rates represent only part of the social costs that
result from such induced stresses. However, in attempting to ascertain
the true costs of development, the difficulty is that the social
scientists have yet to produce a social model that can be used to
monitor such stress reactions. Instead, they have given the planners
conceptual tools such as culture, social organization, and so forth,
and these were developed for other purposes than determining the
reactions of a social system to change and assaying the total social
If we conceive of a social system as a mechanism by which its
members adapt to their social and physical environment, stress can
be defined as dysfunctional reactions to change or the threat of
it. The concept of stress at this level has the same usefulness
for the organization of empirical observations as the concept of
“culture” has had for cultural anthropology. By dysfunctional
adaptation, I refer specifically to stressor-produced activities
that are not directed toward the resolution of the threat but which
require energy and resources of the society to be redirected into
support and maintenance activities for the social system. This results
in reducing the ability of the social system to adapt further.
Health consequences of culture change
An example is health impairment in the members of the social system
as the culture changes. There has been a certain amount of research
into the health consequences of culture change, with the general
conclusion that an increase in health impairment can be related
to sociocultural change. However, the findings of these types of
investigation are not entirely consistent. One of the difficulties
in most of these investigations is the use of a faulty research
design, and I can only briefly outline some of these factors here
as they pertain to our problem.
First of all, many investigations do not distinguish between observer-defined
stress and perceived stress, which is the critical factor. Furthermore,
it is not perceived stress alone that may cause health impairment,
but whether or not the population at risk can deal effectively with
the perceived stress. For example, Scotch has concluded that hypertension
occurs primarily in those urbanized Zulu who have difficulty in
adapting to the new environment and not in those who have made a
successful adaptation.21 Finally, the research designs that have
been used to date do not clearly establish the full impact of health
impairment caused by sociocultural change because they do not include
controls for all significant variables. Thus, on the one hand, certain
types of stressors in sociocultural change may not directly produce
health impairment but, instead, produce other types of behavioral
reactions that only at a later date, and then indirectly, lead to
psychological and physiological damage. Family instability produced
by the stresses of sociocultural change may well be one such example.
However, the one major contribution these studies make to building
a model of a social system as a mechanism of adaptation is that
they clearly demonstrate that health impairment may be one form
of dysfunctional adaptation.
Other types of dysfunctional, as well as functional, adaptations
to change have yet to be adequately delineated. To do this, I believe
it would be useful to view changes in all types of behavior in a
social system as possible responses to the perceived threat of social
change. Thus, the goal of this new social systems research design,
which I propose, is not to determine the objective level of stress
in any social system, even if this were possible, but to monitor
changes in the social system as it reacts to new stressors, using
the concept of concomitant change to identify possible causal sequences.22
Thus, for example, while deviant behavior is recognized as having
its function in defining the boundaries of social systems and in
bringing into focus dominant values, by contrast changes in amounts
and types of deviant behavior are viewed in this type of research
design as providing a measure of the degree of added stress that
the social system is undergoing as a result of induced change.23
Under deviant behavior we include not only crimes and other antisocial
acts, but also mental illness, accidents and other parapsychiatric
disorders, loss of productive efficiency and effectiveness, separations
from the social system, revolutions, and so forth. In this view
we extend the position taken by Menninger et al. on psychological
and physiological coping mechanisms24 to include the social system
in which the individuals participate. Deviance behavior will thus
increase in a social system undergoing change as the other coping
mechanisms become inappropriate or as the structure of social relations
that provide a means for stress reduction in the individual changes
However, one of the major problems in accounting for the costs
of development-induced stress reaction is that there is no satisfactory
inventory of these even at the present state of our understanding
of this problem. The best inventory to my knowledge is that provided
by Menninger et al., but he ignores, as I have pointed out above,
certain social reactions to stressors that mitigate the psychological
and physiological effects, or organize resistance to the source
of threat; such as religious innovation or the forming of associations
to deal with agents of stress. In any event, these social reactions
also produce costs to the social system as they include the rechanneling
of energy from productive to protective and maintenance activities.
The costs of a loss of self-esteem
In situations of culture contact and change such as occur in development
projects, one of the potent factors leading to nativistic movements
has been the loss of self-esteem by the members of the indigenous
populations. (For example, the children going to the new school
in Borneo that I described earlier were told that if they used their
native clothes and carrying baskets they would be laughed at by
the teacher.) Kasl and French have used the concept of loss of self-esteem
to explain why men who moved to low status positions increased the
frequency of their visits to the dispensary while men who moved
to higher status jobs showed a decrease in frequency of visits.25
And there is some evidence to suggest that loss of self-esteem may
produce in certain environments irrational aggressive reactions.
However the exact processes involved in the loss of self-esteem
and the behavioral ramifications is urgently in need of further
research. But we do know that individuals who have high self-esteem
are less likely to display distress and anxiety and are better able
to cope with threats when they do arise than are those with a lower
self-esteem. Thus the loss of self-esteem may begin a chain reaction
of dysfunctional adaptations.
The second cultural domain that I believe to be particularly susceptible
to stress is that of role organization in which change may produce
role conflict and ambiguity. Role conflict and ambiguity is significant
in the development of psychological stress.26
The third leading reactor to stressors is the perceived aspiration-achievement
gap. We know that a high aspiration-achievement gap may lead to
significant psychiatric disorder as well as many other types of
behavioral responses including social movements. And the development
act by its very definition does increase aspirations in the target
population. But the degree to which it increases such aspirations
and the means which are provided in the development act for the
achievement of such aspirations is in each case an empirical questions.
The difficulty is that too little research has been done on this
question so that the parameters and costs are not fully known.
In any event, these three behavioral domains appear to be leading
indications of stress arising in the social system as it attempts
to adapt to change. Therefore, I believe they bear close scrutiny
in any project that involves change or any research investigation
into the dynamics of change.
The difficulty in fully accounting for the pernicious effects
of development is that social scientists have not yet engaged in
sufficient research either to build a full-scale model of a social
system as a mechanism of adaptation or to develop methods to estimate
the social costs of stress induced by change. There is no question
but that a great deal of basic research needs to be done. And development
planners can contribute by keeping case histories of how the societies
adapt to the changes they introduce and by trying to keep an accounting
of the costs that are involved from dysfunctional adaptations.
However the one point I would emphasize is that when social scientists,
ecologists, and others raise their voices against development because
of its unforeseen pernicious consequences, their voices would carry
much more weight if they would couch their arguments in terms of
costs. It is only by comparing the productivity that is created
by a development project against the total of the development, social,
and ecological costs — the real costs — that a sound
decision can be made whether to continue as planned or not. At present,
in my opinion, the social scientists and the ecologists are talking
at different levels than those used by the development planners.
They are dealing with different exchange systems — one where
the values are expressed in terms of money and the other where they
are expressed in various forms including aesthetic values, cultural
values, normative values, social values, anomie, and so forth. It
is only by translating these values into costs so that the exchange
system of the social scientist and ecologist are compatible with
that of the development planner that the point can finally be made
as to the pernicious consequences of development.
In sum, development involves destruction. It is not a simple creative
act as implied by its name, but it is intertwined with the destruction
of ecosystems and sociocultural systems. Since development means
the loss of techniques, mechanisms, and knowledge whereby man can
adapt to the ever-changing world ecosystem, I raise the question
as to whether mankind is not in fact becoming poorer rather than
richer as the result of development. Certainly, it would be worthwhile
to require that a complete scientific survey be made of any ecosystem
and sociocultural system before it is destroyed or modified by development
to determine what should be preserved.
What I have posed here is in one sense a philosophical problem.
For the partial social models that are used for the Third World
(and our modern society as well) are actually based on a highly
distorted image of man. The result of this is that the “civilized”
man, whether from a Western society or from the Third World but
provided with a Western education, turns out to be a very arrogant,
pompous bore to the rest of the world. This is because he assumes
that those from cultures with simpler technologies than his highly
complex one are empty vessels and have nothing to offer him. This
is the philosophy of education in underdeveloped areas; this is
the philosophy of the Peace Corps; this is the philosophy of every
development program. And it is a very insidious philosophy in that
every individual one further notch up on the Westernization scale
applies this arrogant attitude to those below him. (I shall never
forget the dresser in Borneo who refused to sleep in the village
where we lived but stayed down river in the Chinese shop area. He
was of the same ethnic stock as those of our village and only a
few years away from boyhood in a similar village. But he refused
to return to such a village because “they are dirty.”)
At a deeper level this attitude of the “civilized”
man towards those of simpler societies and life styles implies a
basic disrespect of persons. It implies a failure to respect one
of man’s fellow creations as equal both spiritually and in
Thus, any development project in which there is no exchange of ideas,
knowledge, and skills from both cultures in contact; thus any educational
programs in which this exchange fails to take place is hollow, and
the gains, if any, are all to ephemeral. Not only are man’s
accumulated experiences and skills in dealing with the biosphere
lost; not only are the unique genetic resources of his crops lost;
his pharmacopoeias lost; but this implied disrespect spawns the
cancerous growth of hate, which at some point must be satisfied.
And for those who would attack my position as being just another
romantic cry by the anthropologist for the preservation of the native,
I have but one comment. You have utterly failed to understand what
I have said. You either must accept the basis of a full cost-benefit
analysis for mankind that I have called for here, or if you cannot
go back and try to understand the real message of Christian love,
agape, as it applies to all mankind. Otherwise, if neither can be
accepted, then you who consider the peoples of the simpler societies
of the Third World as empty vessels to be filled through development,
you must face the fact that you are racists no matter how covertly
1. R. Boullenne, “Man, the Destroying Biotype,” Science,
135, 1962, p. 706.
2. “Alaska’s Problem with Muskoxen,” Oryx, 1968,
3. K. Watt, Ecology and Resource Management: A Quantitative Approach,
4. “Manatees Urged as Weed Killers: Florida Team Convinced
of Value in Clogged Canals,” New York Times, Dec. 4, 1966,
5. E. Storrs et al., “Leprosy in the Armadillo: New Model
for Biomedical Research,” Science 183, 1974, p. 851.
6. “A Liver’s Best Friend,” Newsweek Feb. 7,
1972, p. 31.
7. E. Levin and V. Flyger, “Uroporphyrinogen Ill Cosynthetase
Activity in the Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger), Science 174, 1971,
8. “World Plant Search: May Yield Anticancer Substances,
New Crops for U.S. Farmers,” Agricultural Research, 14, 1966,
9. E. Bennett (ed.), FAO/IBP Technical Conference on the Exploration,
Utilization and Conservation of Plant Genetic Resources, Rome, Italy,
September 18–26, 1967, UN Food and Agricultural Organization,
10. G. Appell, “Genetic Erosion in the Indigenous Cultivars
of Borneo.” Plant Introduction Newsletter, 23, 1970, p. 25.
11. H. Wilkes, “Maize and Its Wild Relatives: Teosinte and
Tripsacum, Wild Relatives of Maize, Figured Prominently in the Origin
of Maize,” Science, 177, 1971, p. 1071.
12. C. Streeter, A Partnership to Improve Food Production in India,
The Rockefeller Foundation, 1969.
13. G. Appell, “The Health Consequences of Culture Change:
Some Observations on Research Design and Scientific Explanation,”
paper presented at the annual meeting of the Maine Sociological
14. D. Prentice, “The Murut Language of Sabah,” Ph.D.
dissertation, Australian National U., 1969.
15. K. Gokulanathan and K. Verghese, “Dysnutrition. Nutritional
Deprivation Due to Socio-cultural Factors (India),” paper
presented at the 67th annual meeting of the American Anthropological
Association, Nov. 1968, Seattle, Washington.
16. R. Fleger and M. Moser, “Eelgrass (Zostera marina L.)
in the Gulf of California: Discovery of its Nutritional Value by
the Seri Indians,” Science 181, 1973, p. 355.
17. V. Vogel, “American Indian Influence on Medicine and
Pharmacology,” The Indian Historian, 1, 1967, p. 12.
18. G. Crane, “Clinical Psychopharmacology in its 20th Year:
Late Unanticipated Effects of Neuroleptics May Limit Their Use in
Psychiatry,” Science 181, 1973, p. 124.
19. F. Tabrah, M. Kashiwagi, and T. Norton, “Antitumor Activity
in Mice of Tentacles of Two Tropical Sea Annelids,” Science,
170, 1970, p. 181.
20. T. Scudder, “Man-made Lakes and Populations Resettlement
in Africa,” paper presented at the 2nd session of a Symposium
on Man-made Lakes, sponsored by the Institute of Biology, London,
21. N. Scotch, “Sociocultural Factors in the Epidemiology
of Zulu Hypertension,” American Journal of Public Health,
53, 1963, p. 1205.
22. G. Appell, “The Structure of District Administration,
Anti-administration Activity and Political Instability,” Human
Organization 25 1966, p. 312.
23. K. Erikson, Wayward Puritans: A Study in the Sociology of Deviance,
Wiley & Sons, 1966.
24. K. Menninger (with M. Mayman and P. Pruyser), The Vital Balance:
The Life Process in Mental Health and Illness, The Viking Press,
25. S. Kasl and J. French, “The Effects of Occupational Status
on Physical and Mental Health,” Journal of Social Issues,
18, 1962, p. 67.
26. R. Kahn et al.. Organizational Stress: Studies in Role Conflict
and Ambiguity, Wiley & Sons, 1964.
ADDITIONAL BIBLIOGRAPHIC NOTES
Ecological Impact of Development
G. N. Appell, “Mammals of Borneo Whose Survival is Threatened,”
Borneo Research Bulletin, 5, 1973, pp. 64-66.
\Raymond F. Dasmann, John P. Milton, and Peter H. Freeman, Ecological
Principles for Economic Development, Wiley & Sons, 1973.
M. Taghi Farvar and John Milton, Eds., The Unforeseen International
Ecological Boomerang, The Natural History Special Supplement, 1968.
Harmon Henkin, “Side Effects: Report of a Conference on Ecological
Development” Environment, 11, 1969, p. 18.
Noel Simon, Red Data Book; Volume One: Mammalia, International
Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, Survival
Service Commission, n.d.
Uses of Fauna
J. Convit and M. E. Pinardi, “Leprosy: Confirmation in the
Armadillo,” Science, 184, 1974, pp. 1191–1192.
Michael A. Crawford, “The Case for New Domestic Animals,”
Oryx, 12, 1974, pp. 351–360.
P. A. Jewell, “Wild Mammals and Their Potential for New Domestication,”
in Peter J. Ucko and G. W. Dimbleby, Eds., The Domestication and
Exploitation of Plants and Animals, Duckworth, 1969.
W. A. Pieper, Marianne J. Skeen, Harold M. McClure and Peter G.
Bourne, “The Chimpanzee as an Animal Model for Investigating
Alcoholism,” Science, 176, 1972, pp. 71–73.
Charles H. Southwick, M. Rafiq Siddiqi, and M. Farooq Siddiqi,
“Primate Populations and Biomedical Research,” Science,
170, 1970, pp. 1051–1054.
Crawford (1974) reviews the evidence on the protein productivity
of temperate-zone cattle in Africa’s semi-arid regions with
the productivity of wild animal species dwelling in these areas
that could be domesticated. He concludes that it is possible that
Africa could double the present world meat production by the use
of such wild species. Such domestication should aim to make use
of the wild animals’ preferences for different grasses, bush
and boughs, from the tree-top using giraffe to the root-digging
Contribution from Indigenous Peoples
James V. Neel, “Lessons from a ‘Primitive’ Peoples,”
Science, 170, 1970, pp. 815–822.
“The intellectual arrogance created by our small scientific
successes must be replaced by a profound humility based on the new
knowledge of how complex is the system of which we are a part. To
some of us, this realization carries with it the need for a philosophical
readjustment which has the impact of a religious conversion (Neel
Uses of Flora
Siri von Reis Altschul, “Psychopharmacological Notes in the
Harvard University Herbaria,” Lloydia, 30, 1967, pp. 192–196.
---, “Unusual Food Plants in Herbarium Records,” Economic
Botany, 22, 1968, pp. 293–296.
___, “Ethnopediatric Notes in the Harvard University Herbaria,”
Lloydia, 33, 1970, pp. 195–198.
Robert E. Perdue, Jr., Gymnosperms for Anticancer Screening, 1968,
Dr. S. von Reis Altschul has been engaged in a project to screen
the label data of plant collections at the Grey Herbarium and Arnold
Arboretum of Harvard University for Collectors’ notes on the
uses to which various species of plants were put by the population
from where they were collected. She has focused on plants used for
medical purposes and those with a nutritional value. She writes
that the “search was undertaken in the belief that herbaria
represent a rich and untapped reservoir of such information which,
in some instances, might provide the only remaining clues to the
materia medica of peoples already culturally extinct or absorbed
by civilization” (1967:192). She also warns against the loss
of the botanical knowledge of the simpler cultures as well as the
loss of species due to the spread of civilization and makes the
point that never had the preservation of species and all ethnobotanical
knowledge been more important to man (1970). In one study she found
287 genera of plants whose nutritional value where previously unknown
Contributions of Indigenous Cultivars
Judith Miller, “Genetic Erosion: Crop Plants Threatened by
Government Neglect,” Science, 182, 1973, pp. 1231–1233.
Carl O. Saeur, “Theme of Plant and Animal Destruction in
Economic History,” Journal of Farm Economics, 20, 1938, pp.
765–775. Reprinted in John Leighly, Ed., Land and Life: A
Selection from the Writings of Carl Ortwin Saeur, University of
California Press, 1963.
Deborah Shapley, “Sorghum: ‘Miracle’ Grain for
the World Protein Shortage?”, Science 182, 1973, pp. 147–148.
Researchers at Purdue University have recently found two Ethiopian
stains of sorghum which carry high lysine genes. They are now trying
to cross-breed these with other strains to produce a high protein
sorghum that may help alleviate protein deficiency diseases in the
Third World such as kwashiorkor (cf. Shapley 1973).
Saeur writes (1963) “In the space of a century and a half
— only two full life times — more damage has been done
to the productive capacity of the world than in all of human history
preceeding” (p. 147).
“The removal of species, moreover, reduces the possible future
range of utility or organic evolution” (p. 149).
“Yet these primitive forms [of cultivars] hold by far the
greater range of plant-breeding possibilities for future, as yet
unrecognized needs. Some years ago we secured from southern Mexico
seeds of a type of cotton, called acala, that made possible the
current development of cotton growing in the San Joaquin Valley.
Had the plant explorer missed this particular spot in the state
of Chapais or come a few years later, we might not have a successful
cotton industry in California. No one knows how many domestic varieties
of cotton survived or had been lost” (p. 150).
Indigenous Pharmacopoeia and Knowledge
P. C. Dandiya and J. S. Bapna, “Pharmacological Research
in India,” Annual Review of Pharmacology, 14, 1974, pp. 115-126.
D. P. Moody, “Chemotherapeutic Consequences of Culture Collisions,”
Proceedings of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain
and Ireland for 1965, 1966.
Bryce Nelson, “Rocky Mountain Laboratory: A Monument to the
Tick,” Science, 1973, 1971, pp. 1009-1010.
Moody (1966) gives some very disturbing case histories of the
loss of indigenous pharmacopoeia and chemotherapeutic knowledge
as the result of culture and contact and the failure of westerners
to appreciate the quality of indigenous knowledge. Psychiatric medicine
has within the past two decades benefited from psychopharmacological
agents originally derived from nonwestern medicine systems, and
I would estimate that native neuroleptics still offer one of the
most important but largely untapped psychopharmacological resources.
Dandiya and Bapna review research in India on the therapeutic
properties of indigenous medical plants (1974).
The Replacement of Indigenous Diets: Health Consequences
D. B. Jelliffe, “Commerciogenic Malnutrition?”, Nutrition
Reviews, 30, 1972, pp. 199–205.
Jelliffe discusses the nutritional depreviation [sic deprivation]
resulting from the replacement of indigenous diets with commercial
foods in underdeveloped countries and from the cultural export of
inappropriate nutritional information from the western world by
untrained, unacculturated, and culture-bound home economists, nutritionists,
and pediatricians. (Also cf. the note on The Western Metal [sic
Mental] Set of Development and Its Pernicious Consequences.)
Destruction of Self-esteem and Social Identity
G. N. Appell, “Basic Issues in the Dilemmas and Ethical Conflicts
in Anthropological Inquiry,” in G. N. Appell, Ed., Position
Papers on the Dilemmas and Ethical Conflicts in Anthropological
Inquiry, MSS Modular Publications, 1974, Module No. 19.
Stanley Coopersmith, The Antecedents of Self-esteem, Freeman, 1967.
F. C. Wallace, “Anthropological Contributions to the Theory
of Personality,” in Edward Norbeck, Douglass Price-Williams
and William M. McCord, Eds., The Study of Personality: An Interdisciplinary
Appraisal, Holt, Rinehart, and Winston, 1968.
Wallace discusses the relationship of aggression to flawed self-esteem
and threatened social identity. “... the occurrence of destructive
aggression within and between nonhuman primate groups is a temporary
reactive product of fear except under the circumstance of widespread
damage to identity processes in which chronic internalized fear
(of a kind experienced in man as a threat of self-esteem) becomes
endemic. In view of the apparently nondestructive inclinations of
most other primates, one must ask whether man’s notorious
propensity for hostility may not also be a consequence of his extreme
vulnerability to fear induced by disorders of identity processes”
Aspiration-Achievement Gap and Social Deprivation
David F. Aberle, “A Note on Relative Deprivation Theory as
Applied to Millenarian and Other Cult Movements,” in Sylvia
L. Thrupp, Ed., Millenial Dreams in Action, Mouton, 1962, Supplement
II to Comparative Studies in Society and History.
Seymour Parker, Robert J. Kleiner, and Hayward G. Taylor, “Level
of Aspiration and Mental Disorder: A Research Proposal,” in
Vera Rubin, Ed., Culture, Society, and Health, Annals of the New
York Academy of Sciences, 1960.
Health Impairment from Social Change
Lawrence E. Hinkle, Jr., and Harold G. Wolff, “Health and
the Social Environment: Experimental Investigations,” in Alexander
H. Leighton, John A. Clausen, and Robert N. Wilson, Eds., Explorations
in Social Psychiatry, Basic Books. 1957.
H. B. M. Murphy, “Social Change and Mental Health,”
in Causes of Mental Disorders: A Review of Epidemiological Knowledge,
1959, Millborn Memorial Fund, 1961.
The Western Mental Set of Development and Its Pernicious Consequences
Shi-Shung Huang and Theodore M. Bayless, “Milk and Lactose
Intolerance in Healthy Orientals,” Science, 160, 1968, pp.
A recent example of this has been brought to my attention of development
consultants who themselves should have known better. An underdeveloped
country asked two individuals from a United States university to
advise the government on model contracts for dealing with foreign
concessionaires in the extractive industries. In giving this advice
at no time did these consultants raise questions as to the pernicious
effects that might result to the ecosystem or the local peoples.
They neither suggested the government consult with ecological and
anthropological experts nor did they write into the contracts corrective
clauses to mitigate these pernicious effects. Consequently, at the
present time vast areas of tropical forest are being cut with an
unnecessary degradation of the ecosystem, with the loss of primate
and other animal populations, and with an unnecessary disruption
of the local societies and cultures. It is too early to quantify
the full costs of this, but these will eventually have to be dealt
with. It would seem to me that at this stage in our own understanding
of the costs of industrial development in our own country, the consultants
from the U.S. might at least have raised the question as to the
ecological and social consequences of resource development even
if this fell outside the realm of their own areas of competence.
The arrogance of the western mind with respect to his own society
and his expertise is also well illustrated by the American attempt
to create good will by dumping dried milk in such underdeveloped
areas as Borneo where milk is not part of the indigenous diet. The
peoples of Sabah were encouraged to supplement their diets with
this dried milk and feed their children on it, but many only got
stomach cramps and diarrhea. They continually inquired as to whether
it might be spoiled. However, Shi-Shung Huang and Theodore M. Bayless
(1968) have recently established a genetically determined intolerance
for milk and lactose among Asians.
Education and Development
Charles Brooke, the second Rajah of Sarawak, with great foresight
wrote in 1907: “We stuff natives with a lot of subjects that
they don’t require to know, and try to teach them to become
like ourselves, treating them as if they had not an original idea
in their possession” (quoted in Robert Pringle, Rajahs and
Rebels: The Ibans of Sarawak Under Brooke Rule, 1841–1941,
Cornell University Press, 1970).