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Cultural retention is the act of retaining the culture of a specific ethnic group of people, especially when there is reason to believe that the culture, through inaction, may be lost. Many African-American, European and Asian organizations have cultural retention programs in place.[1]


Cultural retention refers to the attempts made to preserve the cultural practices of a defined group, when many of their other forms and rituals have already been lost. This erosion is seen in minority groups feeling alienated from the dominant majority around them. They may strive to retain their traditional cultural practices because they give them joy and pride.[2] This is also an attempt to prevent or reverse the effects of cultural erasure. Cultural erasure happens when cultural practices and customs are forgotten or abandoned by the community, as they adopt customs from the more dominant cultural group or more modernized practices.[3]


People generally attempt to preserve their culture with social practices, ritual and festive events that usually mark the seasons, events in the agricultural calendar, or the stages of a person's life. Examples of this are worship rites, birth, wedding, funeral rites; relationship and kinship practices; traditional games and sports. Other facets of life, where cultural retention could be displayed are in everyday day to day life activities. Examples for this are seen in the music, dance, food (cooking practices and traditional recipes), clothing, art and craft, proverbs, special gestures, and modes of formal and informal greetings.[2]


Retaining and protecting culture is a conscious and intentional process. Cultural heritage can be categorized under two categories - tangible and intangible. Tangible cultural heritage is something that we could touch, like traditional clothing, tools, artwork, buildings, to name a few. While examples of intangible resources are folklore, social norms, music, language, dance, to name a few. The following are some of the ways that could be practiced for retaining traditional cultural norms.[2]

See also

  1. ^ Smart, Cherry-Ann (2019-03-01). "African oral tradition, cultural retentions and the transmission of knowledge in the West Indies". IFLA Journal. 45 (1): 16–25. doi:10.1177/0340035218823219. ISSN 0340-0352.
  2. ^ a b c d "Focus Question 2: What is Cultural Retention?". Daily Observer (Jamaica). 13 February 2020. Retrieved 2021-07-17 – via PressReader.
  3. ^ "Cultural Erasure, Retention and Renewal - 1298 Words | Bartleby". Retrieved 2021-07-17.