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F17 Whose Development?

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Julie Jenkins

on 26 October 2017

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Transcript of F17 Whose Development?

"To salve our consciences we rationalize. Neo-liberalism paints greed as inadvertent altruism. The objects of development are, anyway, the poor, not us. It is they who are the problem, not us. We are the solution. So we hold the spotlight to them (from a safe distance). The poor have no spotlight to hold to us." (Chambers 1995)
Whose Development?
Other Anthropologists started to critique 'modernisation theory'
by examining the social/cultural effects of economic change
and the social/cultural effects of development projects.
pointed out, alongside dependency theorists, that
inequality was increasing within countries and between countries
and 'development' was only benefiting a small sector of society.
Early response to critics:
Basic Needs projects
to improve distribution of projects with a focus on 'target groups'
didn't really improve conditions all that much
still didn't address the structural issues at the heart of differential access to opportunities, etc.
Concept of focusing on Basic Needs and questioning the 'top down' approaches of development taken up by NGOs
proliferated in the 80s & 90s
larger role b/c of the reduced role of the State in development
Questioning the top-down approach & the concept of 'poverty'
Robert Chambers- IDS, University of Sussex
"Rural Development: Putting the Last First"
"Whose Reality Counts?"
The World Bank, highest of us all
Looks down to see poor people small
Like atoms all, a shape and size
For which it’s right to standardize
What is Chamber's critique of the poverty concept used by economists and how they measure it?
What are Chamber’s thoughts on how development should be reframed?
Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA)
enable people to plan and enact solutions to problems by analyzing their own knowledge of local conditions
How might anthropological insights and methods be used here?
train researchers and development workers to conduct interviews, focus groups, and mapping social relations
idea that multiple interests at the local level will be reflected and taken into account.
unbiased, relativisitic
rapport developed with locals
need to learn local knowledge and social structures
emic perspective
Is this a quick fix? Does it do justice to the kinds of information anthropologists take years to obtain?
Development workers may only do this to say projects are 'participatory', without actually taking on the insights obtained.
Who speaks? Whose voice is prioritized?
projects can be co-opted by certain interest groups in a community.
development workers may get responses that locals think they want to hear.
Participation as a 'buzz' word
--where 'locals' are understood as homogeneous group and romanticized as having crucial knowledge
--without really understanding local dynamics and taking these seriously
critiques of the 'top-down' approach have also highlighted that development should be a process of 'empowerment' rather than transfer of knowledge/structures from 'first world' to 'third world'.
what do we mean by 'empowerment'?
Paulo Freire- Brazilian
support people's abilities to understand, question and resist the structural reasons for poverty through learning, organization, and action
potential for creation of 'grass-roots' movements and "subverting the development discourse" & agenda
potential for "alternative development"- John Friedmann
political struggle for development against more powerful groups of people within a society.
but 'empowerment' also becomes a 'buzz' word--
ignores NGOs etc role in the process of strengthening existing social inequality
de Sardan- "symbolic, as well as the material and economic benefits of projects are the subject of tension, maneuvering and competition"
Harrison argues that the agendas, goals, and discourses of development are internalized by local interest groups
and...according to Harrison, we still get a posited dichotomy between 'traditional' and 'modern', where failure to accept development initiatives is a result of 'traditional' behaviors and ignorance.
Ferguson's critique of the 'development machine' was impactful, but didn't offer many solutions
rather bleak account of a machine that is only successful in its unintentional effects of depolitizing the causes of poverty & extending state power
Although, he also highlighted things that need to be taken into account, like the wider socio-culture context and power dynamics
What are some of the problems that arise when PRA is put into practice?
Full transcript