Cultural resilience refers to a culture’s capacity to maintain and to develop cultural identity, knowledge and practices in the face of adversity.
Many human cultures have come and gone, others have survived; the longer surviving cultures can be said to be resilient. Cultural resilience refers to a culture’s capacity to maintain and develop cultural identity and critical cultural knowledge and practices. Despite challenges and difficulties, a resilient culture is capable of maintaining and developing itself. A resilient culture engages with other challenges such as natural disasters and encounters with other cultures, and manages to continue. For example: The culture of the Jewish people has proved to be resilient to the challenges of World War II. Palestinian culture is resilient to the challenges of presented by the Israeli Occupation.
There is a developing body of work on how some cultures are resilient to natural disasters. For example, how Caribbean culture proved a decisive factor in enabling communities in the Virgin Islands to resiliently recover from Hurricane Hugo.
UNESCO’s Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity represents the first international instrument aimed at promoting cultural diversity, which is closely linked to cultural resilience. Cultural resilience is understood as the culture’s capacity to develop and maintain its unique cultural identity, knowledge and practices, and to overcome challenges presented by other norms and ideals.
Recently there has been an interesting attempt to link cultural resilience to new metrics of national happiness. One paper assesses the strength and relevance of various aspects of culture in Bhutan through the perceptions of respondents towards basic cultural elements such as language; sense of identity; core values, change in values, beliefs, norms, and customs; and participation in various cultural activities, such as festivals, sports, and songs. Also, a modest attempt has been made to see whether Bhutanese culture as a whole is capable of maintaining and developing itself in spite of challenges from other ideals and norms – a feature of cultural resilience.