Waylaid Dialectic

February 25, 2014

Development is unquestionably good, but it also needs good questions

Over two weeks in 1996 I travelled between extremes of the public transport spectrum. At one end were the buses of Sumbawa in Indonesia – grumpy, diesel-spitting creatures that lurched their way around potholes taking hours to get anywhere. At the other end was the London Underground. Trains were frequent, quick and – despite everyone’s complaints – mostly on time.

Compared to the bus riders of Sumbawa, all but the poorest travellers on the London Underground were also wildly wealthy. And yet they appeared miserable. Commuting in silence. Pale, staring at their shoes. The Sumbawan bus travellers, on the other hand, were full of cheer. The buses rang with talk and laughter.

For a time this contrast led me to question the merits of development. If London was wealthy but glum and Sumbawa poor but happy then — I thought — perhaps we should abandon development and live like Sumbawanese? Such thinking was common currency on the backpackers’ trail. And something similar is also, I discovered when I did a Development Studies degree in 2003, common currency amongst an influential group of intellectuals, the so-called ‘post-development’ thinkers. The first book I was assigned to read for class was The Development Dictionary a post-development tract edited by German academic Wolfgang Sachs, in which a range of well-credentialed researchers excoriated the development enterprise, taking the doubts of backpackers and fortifying them with critical theory…read the rest  of this post on Devpolicy.

November 28, 2010

Post Development, Post Caring About it?

Filed under: Aid,Development Philosophy — terence @ 5:19 pm
Tags: , ,

“The main strength of the book is that it reasserts the importance of economic growth for improving people’s lives and pulling households out of poverty. Proponents of anti- or post-development would do well to read part 1.”

~ Stuart Corbridge from his review [gated] of William Easterly’s Elusive Quest for Growth.

“If for no other reason, it is worth commending post-development for the kick up the backside it delivers to the cosy and complacent worlds of the Washington Consensus.”

~ Stuart Corbridge from his review [gated] of books by Rist, Esteva and Prakash,  Ranema and Bawtree, and Cooper and Packard.

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