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8 - Post-colonialism, development studies and spaces of empowerment

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 September 2009

Stuart Corbridge
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
Glyn Williams
Affiliation:
Keele University
Manoj Srivastava
Affiliation:
London School of Economics and Political Science
René Véron
Affiliation:
University of Guelph, Ontario
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Summary

Post-colonialism and political society

The discipline of development studies does not have a good reputation among students of post-colonialism. Indeed, it is hard to think of two intellectual and political traditions that are further removed. Post-colonial scholars are deeply suspicious of the Eurocentric and depoliticizing instincts of development studies. This is a common thread in the work of Partha Chatterjee, Arturo Escobar and James Ferguson, however much they are divided on the possibility of development ‘itself’. Chatterjee and Ferguson do not fully share Escobar's pessimism about the past fifty years: the age of misdevelopment that supposedly brought about only famine, debts and immiseration. But they do insist that the ambitious plans of the development industry are repeatedly frustrated by structures of power and politics that are opposed to easy talk of citizenship, good governance and benign economic growth.

In the everyday worlds of ‘popular politics’, Chatterjee maintains, deals are struck by poorer people with those who mediate for them in exchanges with the state and governmental agencies. This is the dirty and sometimes dangerous world of political society. For Ferguson, meanwhile, the necessary and repeated failure of development projects to secure their stated aims is linked to the extension of state power over potentially rebellious populations. The development business, and the counterpart discipline of development studies, is neither ineffective nor especially insincere, but its power effects are often profoundly disempowering for poorer people.

Type
Chapter
Information
Seeing the State
Governance and Governmentality in India
, pp. 250 - 264
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2005

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