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Feminism and Development

Building the Discipline or Politicising It?

David Lempert

Although initial contributions of Women's Studies to the field of Development Studies were to question existing concepts and assumptions and to offer new models and inclusive approaches, it appears that contemporary scholarship has shifted entirely (and even unapologetically) into political advocacy with little further in the way of social science or fresh critique and modelling. In Development Studies, Applied Anthropology and possibly in other subfields where gender concerns are presented in 'single-variable' or 'interest-group' perspectives, it may now be time to return to earlier goals through a depoliticisation of 'Feminist' and 'Women's' Studies, appropriately integrating 'Gender Studies' and concerns into subfields in ways that promote holistic advance of those fields. The essay uses two recent books with alternative examinations of feminism in developing societies – one on the area of 'development' and one on relations of two 'developed' countries, the U.S. and Russia – as springboards for a discussion of what has gone wrong and what can be changed in the sub-field of gender and Development Studies.

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Negotiating international development

The making of the Millennium Development Goals

Iris Borowy

English abstract: The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) evolved in the competition between two perspectives on development: one that sees the reasons for poverty and misery in the specificities of the countries concerned (the localist view) and another that looks at the global context, including and especially the policies of “developed” high-income countries (the globalist view). The core of the MDGs emerged in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and shifted the public focus from the globalist approaches of recent United Nations (UN) conferences to a localist approach. Subsequent UN discussions broadened the perspective again, leading to a more hybrid final form. In the process, goals on equitable trade and financial relations, on market access for products from the Least Developed Countries and on HIV/AIDS and malaria were added, while a goal on access to reproductive health was dropped. Meanwhile, inherent economic–environmental contradictions have remained unresolved.

Spanish abstract: Los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio (ODM) evolucionaron a través de la competencia entre dos puntos de vista sobre el desarrollo: uno que ve las razones de la pobreza y la miseria en las especificidades de los países en cuestión (la visión localista) y otro que las ve en el contexto global, incluyendo especialmente las políticas de los países “desarrollados” de altos ingresos (la visión globalista). El núcleo de los ODM surgió en la Organización para la Cooperación y Desarrollo Económicos (OCDE) y cambió la perspectiva pública de enfoques globalistas de las conferencias recientes de Naciones Unidas por un enfoque localista. Discusiones posteriores de las Naciones Unidas ampliaron la perspectiva de nuevo, dando lugar a una forma final más híbrida. A lo largo de este proceso, se añadieron metas sobre el comercio justo y las relaciones financieras, el acceso a los mercados para los productos de los países menos adelantados, el VIH/SIDA y la malaria, mientras que se redujo el objetivo del acceso a la salud reproductiva. Mientras tanto, las contradicciones inherentes a temas económicos y ambientales han quedado sin resolver.

French abstract: Les Objectifs du Millénaire pour le développement (OMD) ont évolué entre deux points de vue concurrents sur le développement : celui qui voit les causes de la pauvreté et de la misère dans les spécificités des pays concernés — la vision localiste — et un autre qui prend en considération le contexte mondial, y compris surtout les politiques des pays «développés» -la vision mondialiste-. Le noyau des OMD a émergé au sein de l'OCDE et il a détourné l'attention publique des approches globalistes des conférences récentes des Nations Unies vers une approche localiste. Les discussions ultérieures des Nations Unies ont de nouveau élargi la perspective, conduisant finalement à une forme plus hybride. Au cours de ce processus, les objectifs en matière de commerce équitable et de relations financières, l'accès aux marchés pour les produits des pays les moins avancés et ceux qui concernent le VIH / sida et le paludisme ont été ajoutés, tandis que l'objectif de l'accès à la santé reproductive a été abandonné alors que les contradictions inhérentes à l'économie et à l'environnement sont restées en suspens

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Sustainable Development as a Goal

Social, Environmental and Economic Dimensions

Vera Mignaqui

Scholars are researching how to assess a country's sustainable development performance. However, not many proposals differentiate the performance via the three dimensions of sustainable development: social, economic and environmental. This article proposes to assess a country's sustainable development performance in general as well as in each of the dimensions. It pursues three objectives: (1) identifying sustainably developed countries; (2) assessing the best performers in terms of sustainable development; and (3) understanding the relations between the dimensions. Results show a globally bad sustainable development performance, with no sustainably developed countries. They also show that the economic dimension is not the best performing dimension at a global level and that very high levels of gross national income (GNI) per capita usually imply a bad environmental performance.

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Anata Kumar Giri

Mainstream discourse and practice of development mainly focus on what can be called the prose of development: the hard-core and hardware issues of economics, politics, and infrastructure. There is very little poetics in the mood and methods of its advocates. This article, referring among others to Indian philosophers, argues that we should turn this approach around in a transformative way, by putting what is usually considered the lowest at the top. Poetics of development builds upon inner and shared transformations in prose and poetics, as it seeks to express the suffering and joys of souls and societies. It offers a new dimension to the social quality idea about “the social” as the outcome of the dialectic between processes of self-realization of human beings and the formation of collective identities. The article argues that this shift in focus is essential to meaningful development.

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Transnationalization and Development

Toward an Alternative Agenda

Thomas Faist

The central puzzle discussed in this article is that, despite the new interest in migration and development, much of development studies focuses only on the transfer of resources from the North or West to the South and East. Yet transnational studies document two-way flows. In addressing this issue, the article answers three questions. First, what is new and what is old about the current 'mantra' of the migration-development nexus? Second, with regard to sustained cross-border transactions, which and what kind of transnational ties benefit development? Third, why is there a new enthusiasm about migration and development at this particular point in time? How is this new direction connected to shifting paradigms in development thinking and to changing geo-political alignments and forms of migration control after the end of the Cold War?

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Julia E. Murphy

Feminist promotion of gender equity in development began in the 1970s, challenging development policy and practice and producing a rich body of debate and scholarship. Feminist anthropologists, through scholarship and activism, made important contributions to the project of reforming development. A recent anthropological critique of development, however, referred to as the anthropology of 'development', has raised important questions about anthropology's relationship to development, presenting new challenges to feminist anthropologists who would engage with development. This new approach, despite its attention to power, has not had questions about gender at its centre. Drawing on fieldwork in southeastern Campeche, Mexico, this paper explores challenges of a feminist anthropology of 'development', including pressures for engagement and disengagement, and the apparent contradiction between reflexive critiques of, and feminist engagements with, development.

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Susan Brin Hyatt

As a political and economic philosophy, neoliberalism has been used to reshape schools and universities, making them far more responsive to the pressures of the market. The principles associated with neoliberalism have also extended to programmes for urban economic development, particularly with respect to the largescale gentrification of neighbourhoods rendering them amenable to investments aimed at creating spaces attractive to white, middle-and-upper class consumers. In this article, I discuss how universities themselves have come to play a significant role as urban developers and investors, promoting commercial retail development and building upscale housing in neighbourhoods adjacent to their campuses. My entry point into this discussion is through describing an ethnographic methods class I taught in 2003, whereby students carried out collaborative research in the African-American neighbourhood surrounding Temple University's main campus in Philadelphia. As a result of their work, we produced a neighbourhood newspaper that sought to disrupt the commonplace assumptions about 'rescuing' the neighbourhood from what was presented as an inexorable spiral of decline; rather, our work showed that actions taken by the university, itself, had helped to produce the very symptoms of decline that the new development project now purported to remedy.

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Nina Glick Schiller

Questioning the units of analysis of contemporary migration theory—the nation-state, the ethnic group, and the transnational community—that structure discussions of migration and development, I argue for a global perspective on migration. In deploying these units of analysis, current discourses about migration and development reflect a profound methodological nationalism that distorts present-day migration studies. The global perspective advocated in this article addresses the reproduction and movement of people and profits across national borders. Such a perspective places the debates about international migration and development and the contemporary polemics and policies on immigration, asylum, and global talent within the same analytical framework, allowing migration scholars to address the mutual constitution of the local and the global.

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Speaking Back, Striking Back

Calls for Local Agency and Good Fieldwork in Development Encounters

Eugenie Reidy

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.

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Jon Harald Sande Lie

Through its post-structural critique of development, post-development provides a fundamental dismissal of institutional development. Drawing on the work of Foucault, post-development portrays development as a monolithic and hegemonic discourse that constructs rather than solves the problems it purports to address. Yet post-development itself becomes guilty of creating an analysis that loses sight of individuals and agency, being fundamental to its development critique. This article discusses the discourse-agency nexus in light of the post-development context with specific reference to the grand structure-actor conundrum of social theory, and asks whether an actor perspective is compatible with discourse analysis and what—if anything—should be given primacy. It aims to provide insight into social theory and post-development comparatively and, furthermore, to put these in context, with Foucault's work being pivotal to the seminal post-development approach.