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Provoking the Rocks: A Study of Reality and Meaning on the Zambian Copperbelt.

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University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban


Even though the West, or Global North, initiates extensive development policymaking and project activity on the African continent, this study argues that one source of major frustration between different parties entrusted to do the work arises from cognitive differences in their worldviews. These differences affect people's actions and have theological ramifications involving how we all understand meaning and reality. The study employs a case method analyzed through the lens of Alfred Schutz's sociology of knowledge theories and augmented by insights from African scholars to look at basic perceptual differences between Zambians and expatriates working on the Copperbelt Province's mines. After exploring how participants in the study interpreted various experiences, this study concludes that Zambians and expatriates were essentially living in "parallel universes" of meaning regardless of their apparently shared activities and objectives. The study further argues that viewpoints expressed by Zambian participants can be extrapolated into powerful lessons for members of civil society who are concerned about international development and the environment. Such teaching elements could especially help reshape how Americans and other Westerners understand ourselves in relation to physical creation and the cosmos as well as to those from radically different cultures. Lessons learned from the Zambian perspective could also help reinvigorate Western theological thinking, providing much needed critiques of discourses that currently dominate international development policymaking and planning and that determine value principally according to economic strategies and fulfillment of efficient, measurable objectives.


Thesis (Ph.D.)-University of KwaZulu-Natal, 2007.


Philosophy, African., Religion, African., Economics--Religious aspects--Christianity., Economic development--Religious aspects--Christianity., Theses--Theology., Zambia--Economic policy., Zambia--Economic conditions., Zambia--Politics and government., Privatization--Social aspects--Zambia., Copper industry and trade--Zambia--History.