Introducing the Network on Culture
The Network on Culture is a network of researchers including professors, independent researchers, elders, experts, graduate students, other professionals, and community members who are committed to an ethic of collegiality. Our collective is composed of individuals with their own expertise, bolstered by their own projects and professional lives, who are accustomed to pooling resources, assisting each other, and collaborating on larger projects.
Together, we will serve as a network of knowledge generation and sharing, as well as a facilitator of community-oriented projects. Each project is headed by one of our members in collaboration with a circle of peers and draws upon the knowledge and skills of our associates according to their fields of expertise and availability.
Our mandate is three-fold
- to work with Indigenous and minority communities in the maintenance and strengthening of identity, cultural heritage, and cultural environments in the face of modern challenges and encounters with dominant societies.
- to cultivate an interdisciplinary understanding of culture, especially of intangible culture including language maintenance and revitalization, arts of all media, history, local economy, family structures, environment, customs and traditions, and religious beliefs and practices, among others.
- to build networks within Canada and abroad linking Indigenous groups, government departments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), academics, charities, and others.
We disseminate our findings through publications, public lectures, development programs, workshops, seminars, conferences, in the classroom, and through other media. We collaborate with Indigenous communities in the construction of development tools that protect and strengthen local cultures and languages, and in the exploration of cultural issues and culturally appropriate business opportunities that emerge as a result of development, globalization, internationalization, and other aspects of modernization.
We offer training in effective intercultural communication and cultural awareness to the larger community and in the classroom, particularly for those working in intercultural industries such as tourism, cultural site management, diplomacy and foreign affairs, emergency responders and security, and others.
Cultures develop organically but they do not survive and prosper apart from the active engagement of their members and the contributions of these people to the shaping, sharing in, or transmission of their cultural heritage.
The second guiding principle that governs the Network on Culture’s work is that local people themselves are most familiar with the challenges they face. Preferably, our projects are initiated and led by local people and, wherever possible, they must be involved in projects and have authority over our particpation. We bring our expertise as researchers, facilitators, and administrators to projects but we do not aim to provide answers. We work with people to discover answers together.
The Network on Culture is a membership-based organization, functioning along sociocratic principles.
Angela Sumegi is a retired associate professor, currently Adjunct Research in Humanities and Religion at Carleton University. Her publications include Dreamworlds of Shamanism and Tibetan Buddhism (2008) and Understanding Death: An Introduction to Ideas of Self and Afterlife in World Religions (2013). Current research interests focus on religious approaches to death as well as inter-religious encounters in contemporary indigenous and Western contexts.
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