This article explores local agency in development anthropology, a prominent form
of applied anthropology that has encouraged refl ection on the practice of anthropology itself
(Mosse 2013). Drawing on specifi c fieldwork experiences from time the author spent working
for the United Nations and international NGOs in East Africa, it discusses several complexities
and moral questions that arose. In particular, it focuses on the challenges for local perspectives
to be represented, given the subjective interests in which development encounters are
embedded. It also looks at instances where ‘speaking back’ does occur, and where it arguably
becomes ‘striking back’. In light of this, the article discusses what can be mutually exchanged
between development and anthropology, with a particular focus on the accommodation of local
agency and participation, and the need for fieldwork approaches based on suffi cient time,
trust and positionality.
If the inline PDF is not rendering correctly, you can download the PDF file here.