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The vanishing world of our ancestors

Bridget Kendall finds out what we can learn from traditional societies, with Prof Jared Diamond, anthropologist Rose Boswell and author Prajwal Parajuly.

The ways of our ancestors are still alive in many parts of the world and they can teach us a thing or two. A child in New Guinea could rival a child in New York for their ability to negotiate with adults, for example. But there are drawbacks too - particularly for the elderly or the weak.
Bridget Kendall is given a tour of a vanishing world by three experts who have explored the boundaries of modern and traditional societies in places as far apart as New Guinea, Zanzibar and Sikkim.
Polymath Jared Diamond is Professor of Geography at UCLA. He's been visiting the remote tropical island of New Guinea for the past fifty years. He says that the tribal way of life there, for all its problems, provides unique insights that could serve us modern humans well.
Prajwal Parajuly is a writer from Sikkim, a small Indian state high up in the Himalayan mountains, on the borders of Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. It's a part of the world with lots of ethnic diversity and ancient traditions and in his short stories, Prajwal explores the ambiguous role traditions play in people's lives.
Rhodes University anthropologist Rose Boswell is originally from the island of Mauritius. She has studied women's traditions on other Indian Ocean islands, especially Zanzibar and Madagascar. She tells us what makes the inhabitants of Zanzibar remain faithful to traditional birthing rituals, while people elsewhere adapt a more Western way of life.

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28 minutes

Jared Diamond

Jared Diamond

Professor of Geography at UCLA, polymath Jared Diamond has been visiting the remote tropical island of New Guinea for fifty years.  He says that the tribal way of life there, for all its problems, provides unique insights that could serve us modern humans well, and explains why he thinks their attitude to child rearing, old age, diet and danger could teach us a thing or two.

 

(Top Main Photo credit: Sonny Tumbelaka/AFP/Getty)

Prajwal Parajuly

Prajwal Parajuly

Writer Prajwal Parajuly comes from Sikkim, a small Indian state high up in the Himalaya mountains, on the border with Nepal, Tibet and Bhutan. It’s a part of the world with lots of ethnic diversity and ancient traditions and in his short stories Prajwal explores the ambiguous role traditions play in the lives of women in Nepali-speaking communities.

Rose Boswell

Rose Boswell

Originally from the island of Mauritius, Rhodes University anthropologist Rose Boswell has studied women’s traditions at other Indian Ocean islands, especially Zanzibar and Madagascar. She tells us what makes the inhabitants of Zanzibar remain faithful to traditional birthing rituals, while people elsewhere adapt a more Western way of life.

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