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Dear reader,

You are holding in your hands the very last issue of " Cultures and Development ". Our Network remains alive but starting January 2004, it will no more enjoy its current logistics, with an office and this journal.

To our readers we say "good bye". We hope that the positive aspects of globalisation will still allow us to meet or at least to correspond. This triple issue of our journal allows us to celebrate fourteen years of reflection and action; research and commitment in favour of a more respectful approach to local cultures in North-South relations.

This issue presents a careful selection of articles published in the first half of our journal's existence, that is from 1990 to 1996. Recent issues (n° 30-46) are readily available whereas those prior issues are often hard to find. They have been lost or forgotten and some of our present readers never saw them.

We have not included here the (rather more lengthy) conclusions of our various action-research projects. They were published in books or in special issues of this journal. A list of the main themes dealt with in special issues of our journal is to be found at the end of this issue.

We are grateful to our readers for their faithful support. Our network and this journal have played their part, so we believe, in changing people's attitudes towards local cultures in development. However, the struggle for more attention to culture in development co-operation, and in the resolution of societal problems anywhere in the world, is far from over. Admittedly, there is now much more talk about culture than twelve years ago. Yet culture is often reduced, as in Samuel Huntington's book "The Clash of Civilisations", to a source of conflict. Many so-called experts look at cultural differences as an obstacle to be removed so as to allow the further advance of economism, with its materialistic and narrowly rationalistic approaches. Others are opposed to this ethnocentric and profit-oriented arrogance and recognise that local cultural dynamics can be a source of alternatives and the engine of creative social projects. We believe strongly that the struggle for local cultures is to be at the heart of the concerns of the World Social Summit : "Another world is possible" ! It is a crucial but difficult struggle as the focus on culture implies the invisible and not quantifiable aspects of reality. To be culture-conscious opens one up to issues of meaning and spirituality. The members of Network Cultures will go on advocating the taking into account of this immaterial, complex, unforeseeable and often spiritual aspect of human society and of the human being.

by Aquifolium
© 2000, South-North Network Cultures and Development