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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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Women and development in Vietnam

Caught between social tradition and economic globalization

Khuat Thu Hong

Interview with Khuat Thu Hong, Director of the Institute for Social Development Studies (Hanoi, Vietnam)

Background: In many ways, Vietnam can be considered a representative case in global development debates. It has been presented as a relative success story in many global development discussions since the country has moved into the middle-income category. Moreover, it statistically met many of the indicators included in the Millennium Development Goals, especially the reduction of poverty and, above all, extreme poverty.

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Claire Cororaton and Richard Handler

This article documents and analyses the uneasy, if not contradictory, relationship between service learning and liberal arts thinking in an undergraduate programme in Global Development Studies (GDS) at a North American University. As an undergraduate, Cororaton participated in a service-learning project to build a greenhouse in Mongolia; at the same time, the curriculum of her major (GDS, a programme directed by Handler) was developing a critique of such service projects, focusing on their lack of political self-consciousness. The authors contextualise the story within the university's ongoing attempts to enhance its global profile.

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Democracy in the Pacific Islands

Comparable Practices, Contested Meanings

Jack Corbett

Ian Shapiro identifies three traditions of democratic thought: aggregative, deliberative, and minimalist. All three are apparent in the Pacific Islands despite most commentators and donors assuming that the meaning of democracy is fixed. The focus in development studies on institutions and their capacity to deliver pro-poor growth has generated a fourth tradition that revolves around the now pervasive governance concept. Rather than focusing on the general will of a sovereign people, this perspective is predominately concerned with the legitimate use of violence as a precursor to any development-orientated democratic state. Having reviewed the literature on democracy in the Pacific to parse out these four meanings, this article concludes that paying greater attention to this ideational equivocality would extend discussions about the suitability and transferability of this type of regime.

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For a decade, the issue of sustainable development has been highlighted in international social policy debates and development studies. In order to ensure and increase the level of social quality, various societies struggle to achieve sustainable growth, with different policy measures in dissimilar circumstances of policy making. For some societies, including the European states, to ensure sustainability of welfare state systems is the primary task of government (especially after the financial crisis in the late 2000s), and in other cases, such as in Russia and the Southeast Asian states, economic growth (accompanied by sustainability, as is hoped) is the main concern. Several key issues are involved in this, such as sustainable economic growth, welfare finance, environmental policy and overall sustainability of society. The articles included in this issue of IJSQ touch on different aspects of the “sustainable growth” issue.

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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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Sunday Paul Chinazo Onwuegbuchulam and Khondlo Mtshali

In contemporary development and political studies the Capability Approach as proposed by Amartya Sen and Martha Nussbaum has become an alternative analytical framework used to conceptualize the promotion of well-being (‘capabilities’) in society. Notably, an important component of this framework is agency, which underscores the various ‘transformation mechanisms’ towards realising well-being in societies. This study straddles the area of political theory and development studies and seeks to contribute to the literature on the Capability Approach from a fresh perspective of the contest for agency between the different political stakeholders in society’s development arena. The study interrogates the agency roles of different stakeholders in society’s development focusing on the liberal-communitarian and the state-insociety debates on the politics of state from the perspective of the Capability Approach.

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George E. Marcus

For me, since the 1980s, the distinctive event in the recent history of social and cultural anthropology in the United States has been a profound cutting of the discipline (or rather of this influential component of the four-field disciplinary organisation of general anthropology) from moorings that defined it through much of the twentieth century. Certainly the discipline is still wedded functionally to certain aspects of the institutional model which has shaped the identity of social and cultural anthropologists, as pioneered through the works of such figures as Bronislaw Malinowski in England and Franz Boas in the United States. Most anthropologists still begin their careers with a geographical area specialisation outside the U.S. However, few receive the intensive areas studies education that was available and encouraged in the U.S. during the 1950s through to the 1970s when, in the atmosphere of the Cold War and development studies, there was a huge investment in such interdisciplinary programmes that has since waned.