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Hermeneutic Reflections from Visiting a Project in Dumaria, India

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image of African and Asian Studies
For more content, see Journal of Asian and African Studies.

When people from one culture visit the transformational development work in another country the question of 'understanding' is raised. This paper draws on the philosophical writings of Heidegger and Gadamer to show how interpretations are made in an experience of 'being there'. We argue that understanding is always on-the-way, influenced by past experience, interest, and mood. 'Being-there' affords an opportunity to move beyond taken-for-granted assumptions, to become more attuned to the hermeneutic 'as' that reveals the complex nature of 'meaning'. At the same time, we recognise that understanding always comes with the possibility of misunderstanding. Dialogue, where partners seeks to understand the experience of 'other, opens the way forward.

Affiliations: 1: Associate Professor, Auckland University of Technology, Private Bag 92 006, Auckland 1020, New Zealand;, Email:; 2: Dean of Studies, BCNZ, 70 Condell Ave, Christchurch 5, New Zealand;, Email:; 3: Professor of Environmental Economics, University of Waikato, Private Bag, Hamilton, New Zealand;, Email:


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