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Jason Hickel

Participation in development projects in the Global South has become one of the most sought-after activities among American and British high school graduates and college students. In the United States this often takes the form of Alternative Spring Break trips, while in Britain students typically pursue development work during their 'gap years'. Development projects offer students a way to craft themselves in an alternative mould, to have a 'real experience' that marks them off from the cultural mainstream as 'authentic' individuals. The student development craze represents an impulse to resist consumerist individualism, but this impulse has been appropriated and neutralised by a new logic of consumption, transforming a profoundly political urge for change into a form of 'resistance' compatible with neoliberal capitalism. In the end, students' pursuit of self-realisation through development has a profoundly depoliticising effect, shifting their attention away from substantive problems of extraction and exploitation to the state of the inner self.

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The Outburst

Climate Change, Gender Relations, and Situational Analysis

Jonas Østergaard Nielsen

Since the major Sahelian droughts and famines of the early 1970s and 1980s, international development and aid organizations have played a large role in the small village of Biidi 2, located in northern Burkina Faso. This article explores how a visit by a development 'expert' to the village can be analyzed as a social situation in which normal social control is suspended and negotiated. Focusing on gender relations, the analysis shows how the women of Biidi 2 involved in the event were relatively free to construct alternative definitions of their identity and social position vis-à-vis the men.

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Professionalizing Persons and Foretelling Futures

Capacity Building in Post-Earthquake Haiti

Kristin LaHatte

aid practitioners, efforts to change ‘attitudes’ are rooted in the standardization of processes and the cultivation of professionalism, which became a cornerstone of the neoliberal development agenda during the mid-1990s. Development projects, and most

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Eliza Guyol-Meinrath Echeverry

development in Ecuador not only failed to provide the infrastructure and education improvements corporations promised but also exacerbated preexisting inequalities and resulted in severe ecological and sociocultural damage to the country. Development projects

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Ken MacLean

cost-benefit analysis is conducted. The financialization of risk can also serve as a potential asset for other parties. As one sign of this, HMA frequently enables rent extraction in the form of demining contracts, development projects, and enterprise

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El otro lado

Local Ends and Development in a Q'eqchi' Maya Community

Avery Dickins

In the small Q'eqchi' Maya village of Muqb'ilha', locals refer to the newly developed tourism complex as el otro lado (the other side), in contrast to the 'lived side' where the community resides. While the Candelaria River literally divides the homes of the community's families from the visitor center, the reference goes beyond a physical distinction. The tourism center provides a window to the world beyond this remote community as residents who participate in the enterprise gain economic, social, and human capital through their interaction with outsiders. The Chisec region of Guatemala where Muqb'ilha' is located has recently experienced a boom in NGO activity. This article explores the interaction between indigenous communities and international NGOs, highlighting ways in which local actors use development projects and conservation measures toward their own ends.

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The men who knew too much

Sardines, skills, and the labor process in Jaffa, Israel, 1948–1979

Naor Ben-Yehoyada

This historical anthropology of the rise and fall of Israel's post-1948 sardine purse-seining development project shows what happens when marginalized groups, who are initially excluded as “backward” or “primitive”, enter modernization projects that are based on politics of skillfulness and experts' control over the labor process. By focusing on the role that skills play in the struggle between experts and artisans over the labor process, I show how the dynamics within state-run production apparatuses can make workers and experts face dilemmas about productivity, profit, and effectiveness, leading to such projects' implosion. This mode of analysis exposes the contradictions within projects of governance as well as in their relational intersection with the people they subjugate and exclude.

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Indigenousness and the Mobility of Knowledge

Promoting Canadian Governance Practices in the Russian North

Elana Wilson

This article illustrates ways in which a Canadian international development team attempted to legitimate the transfer of natural resource management and economic development models from the Canadian to the Russian North by positing the notion of fundamental similarities between Canadian and Russian northern indigenous peoples. Drawing upon interviews and my participation in the development project, I demonstrate ways in which Russian northern leaders responded to these supposed shared features and describe how the definition of indigenous was debated by Canadian and Russian project participants. Namely, indigenous project participants disagreed over whether indigenousness was rooted in descent or activity and what kind of economic future (mainstream market-oriented or rooted in subsistence practices) could sustain indigenous peoples. I conclude that indigenousness as a unity discourse may facilitate good international politics, but does not serve as an unproblematic mechanism for knowledge transfer and crosscultural communication on a level closer to home.

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Editorial

Imperial crisis and the millennium goals

Monique Nuijten

Poverty is ‘big business’. Donor funds are set to increase substantially as the UN millennium targets—to eradicate extreme poverty and halve the number of people suffering from hunger by 2015—seem ever more out of reach. Small wonder that social science methods to assess levels of poverty and the results of development projects have become a hot issue, too. As much of the research on poverty directly feeds into policy making and donor strategies, people are rightly concerned about its quality. Anthropology has a stake in this debate: despite the hegemony of quantitative methods in development research, participatory rural appraisals and poverty assessments have always drawn upon anthropological methods. One might wonder what happens to these qualitative methods in research that aims to establish quantitative levels of poverty.

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The road to nowhere?

Poverty and policy in the south of Laos

Holly High

Anthropological understandings of development have often discussed development projects in terms of an extension of the state. Using the example of a participatory poverty reduction project in Laos, this article outlines how development schemes also have the potential to define areas of exception from state services. This project was understood by project officers as an example of a successful “participatory” project. Lao recipients, however, interpreted it in terms of the non-provision of state services, and thus as further evidence of governmental corruption and deceit. These residents—far from resisting the notion of development, or the extension of the state—emphasized largesse and provisioning as the hallmarks of a successful project and a legitimate state. Their forms of “everyday resistance” to the project focused on narratives demanding more incorporation with the state.