Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Transforming relationships: A qualitative analysis of westerners' experience of reciprocity with the natural world
by Duphily, Monique, Ph.D., California Institute of Integral Studies, 2014, 197; 3621046
Abstract (Summary)

This study responds to the call in the ecological literature (Berry 1988, 1999; Macy & Brown, 1998; Spretnak, 2011) for cognitive, spiritual, and relational shifts in humanity's perception and experience of the natural world. It examines the lived experience of a diverse group of Western adults who were initiated into an eco-spiritual Andean indigenous tradition centered upon reciprocity. Andean reciprocity, or ayni , involves maintaining a relationship of mutual exchange with the natural world and implies a paradigm shift, from the dominant Western paradigm to one that views the Earth as animate and able to reciprocate. In this study, reciprocity is explored as a potential means for Westerners to facilitate living in harmony with the natural world.

This basic qualitative analysis used semi-structured interviews with 8 U.S. residents who were initiated into an eco-spiritual Andean indigenous tradition and report that they actively maintain reciprocity with the natural world three or more years after their initiation. Interviews solicited stories from participants and, in the process, honored the oral culture of the Q'ero, into which the coresearchers were initiated. Data analysis was an inductive process that extracted salient themes from all stories to construct a process of sacred reciprocity for Westerners.

This study can inform Westerners who are interested in deepening relationship and learning practical ways of being in harmony with the natural world. It can also inform anyone interested in developing skillful means to utilize ancestral teachings in a contemporary context. For Westerners and industrialized societies, these practices and tools could help facilitate ecological citizenry and cultural transformation.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Jones, Constance A.
Commitee: Gordon, Oakley E., Gozawa, Joanne
School: California Institute of Integral Studies
Department: Transformative Studies
School Location: United States -- California
Source: DAI-A 75/09(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Cultural anthropology, Sustainability, Spirituality
Keywords: Andean indigenous tradition, Ayni, Initiation, Reciprocity, Spiritual ecology, Transformation
Publication Number: 3621046
ISBN: 978-1-303-91826-1
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