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INTD 200: Development as Discourse.docx

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Department
International Development
Course
INTD 200
Professor
Warren Allmand
Semester
Fall

Description
FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 28, 2012: Development as Discourse Development as discourse:  The perceptions of what it means to be developed is a reflection of modernization  Is development theory meeting its objectives? Post development emerged and said that modernization was considered to be a failure by the development community (feminist critiques about development negatively affecting women, Marxist critiques that projects were helping rich and not poor countries, etc.) there was an increase of social movements (environmental, indigenous) as a result of the impacts of these policies. Post- development theory arose in the context of an academic movement of post- structuralism and post-modernism.  Influence of post-modernism: a philosophical reaction to modernism (modernism studying empirically, objective; whereas postmodernism argues it is not objective).  Language and concepts in construction of social reality—they act to create our understanding of the world and how we give meaning to reality. o Ex. By labeling it as a forest, you think of it in one way, but thinking of it as a farm would give you very different perceptions of the people and what they do. Different perceptions = different policies.  Knowledge as socially constructed—not neutral. It is situated in historical and cultural settings. How we see the world and how we understand truth depends on culture, context, time and place. It depends on the situation. Truth and reality are different for different people. People have different knowledge do to perception, how they understand the world. o Ex. if there is a problem in rice yields because farmers have less farm resources, from certain perspectives this is seen as a scientific issue (we need to increase yields with new formulas). From a religious farmer’s perspectives, they would consider the spirits in the land as significant and their solution to increase the rice yield could be rituals, praying, etc.  Development as discourse—how we speak about it, represent development and developing countries influence reality. For example, an agricultural minister and a religious leader would see how to proceed in development very differently. Different representations of the environment are significant to post-modernists.  What does development do in practice?  Talking about development as discourse makes it a space where certain things can be imagined. Development Representations:  How people in developing countries are treated is partly due to how they are represented. Important of texts, images, concepts in creating “development objects.” Images create certain ways of thinking or issues as problems as a call to intervene.  Ex. the picture we associate with poverty and hunger of an African child to demand an intervention.  Discourse and representations influence action—important for what they do (as scripts and ideologies for action). It motivates actions and interventions about how to achieve progress.  Discourse and actions  Colonial discourse/ the “white mans burden”: the idea that colonial governments represented people as backwards and in need of intervention. This representation justified a kind of intervention and governance by outsiders and legitimize interventions and constructed how people thought about society. Colonization was seen as beneficial and this discourse overlooked the negative impacts. If people weren’t represented as backwards, they likely would not have been able to justify colonization in the same way. In order to justify this control, they had to intervene in certain ways (humanitarian goals—health care, etc. for the betterment of society).  De-politicization—development as something that can be controlled and managed. Development is represented as politically neutral, ignoring relations of power that underlie these interventions, etc. In order to justify this control, they had to intervene in certain ways (humanitarian goals—health care, etc. for the betterment of society).  Hegemonic theory: people take an idea for granted and assume it as truth because it is dominant. It emerges when powerful actors don’t have to rely on force to get people to accept that what they are saying is good. Ideas become exempted from thought and assumed as right. They argue certain theories of development have become dominant/hegemonic—ex. the idea that economic growth is development and progress. o Ex. we accept without questioning that going to school is good and we should all go, without thinking about it. o Ex. Karen’s example that the people in Laos now think that they’re backwards.  James Ferguson- wrote “the Anti-Politics Machine” in the late 1990s using a post-development analysis to understand a project being represented in Lesotho. o Development representations of Lesotho: he looked at documents for CIDA, etc. that represent Lesotho as an enclos
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