Disciplinary Biases in Approaching African Development

Pes, Luca G.
December 2007
Global Jurist;Dec2007, Vol. 7 Issue 3, p6
Academic Journal
This paper tries to individuate various actual and potential aspects of an anthropological analysis of development, aiming to draw a comprehensive picture. A number of background questions encourage this attempt. Is development a form of engagement with the great questions of poverty, hunger and oppression in Africa? What is the relationship between development and politics? What is that between development and technical expertise? Why should African people articulate their political aspirations in the language of development, while Europeans or Americans have at their disposal a political language? Section one considers the general representation of Africa as transmitted by social and economical indicators. It underlines some dissatisfaction with the process of reducing the social and economic reality to a set of data. It also considers the material and cultural implications lying behind technocratic attitudes, suggesting that they should be the object of anthropological analysis. The limits of data reductionism make clearer the advantages of an anthropological perspective on the topic of development, which is too often considered in a technical dimension, ultimately discarding human agency. In turn, however, a deeper understanding of the geo-political and historical context of development intervention is very much needed in order to enrich anthropological approaches, which run the risk of being excessively narrow and self-reflective. Reviewing a number of works in the field of development and anthropology, section two tries to find out the main limitations of such literature, and calling for a broader understanding. Finally, section three considers more ambitious approaches, such as Ferguson's ``anti-politics machine". In particular, this part puts an emphasis on the de-politicizing effect of technocratic development interventions. It also underlines the problems arising from a Foucauldian view of institutions being produced by discourses. The conclusion will summarise the tools needed by an anthropological perspective on development, trying to find a balance between the representation of human agency and the understanding of the deeper hegemonic structures characterising development intervention.


Related Articles

  • What a strike is. KROPOTKIN, PETER // Anarcho-Syndicalist Review;Winter2015, Issue 63, p33 

    The article offers the author's insights on labor strikes and socialist movement in London, England. Topics discussed include the poverty and oppression experienced by dock workers, the creation of an organization by dock workers which distributes leaflets about the hunger strike held by the...

  • The long road to reunification. Kim, Iggy // New Internationalist;Jul2003, Issue 358, p6 

    Reports on the work towards peaceful reunification between South and North Korea. Feeling of frustrated national hope in the face of historical oppression; Political shift underwritten by economic changes; Consequence from the U.S. military presence in the Korean peninsula.

  • The Foot People. Madeley, John // America;11/24/1979, Vol. 141 Issue 16, p319 

    The article reports on the plight of the Vietnamese boat people fleeing hunger and oppression on the open seas. It mentions that these people are among the luckiest refugees in the world. Most fleeing Vietnamese who survived their trying experience at sea will have been placed in another...

  • Anthropological Perspectives on Transformational Development. Knighton, Ben // Transformation (02653788);Apr2003, Vol. 20 Issue 2, p89 

    Evaluates the multi-disciplinary approach to transformational development. Poverty reduction in terms of redistributive land reform; Contrast between anthropology and development studies; International effort toward holistic development.

  • Avatars of the limit-situation in post-totalitarian witness literature. SASU, Laura // Bulletin of the Transilvania University of Brasov, Series IV: Ph;2014, Vol. 7 Issue 1, p99 

    The present paper aims at providing several interpretation patterns necessary for an applicative analysis of the concept of limit-situation, as it is revealed by testimonial literature produced by surviving witnesses of totalitarian oppression policies applied in the twentieth century....

  • The World of Hunger--A Management Challenge. Nanus, Burt // Columbia Journal of World Business;Jan/Feb71, Vol. 6 Issue 1, p51 

    The hungry millions in the underdeveloped world today are being tortured like German king Tantalus for, whenever the fruits of technology appear to be within their grasp, they are whisked away in a vain attempt to keep up with the exploding birth rate. Due to the increase in hunger and the...

  • The way forward Prioritising agriculture. Ankornah, Baffour // New African;May2012, Issue 517, p58 

    The article discusses the significance of prioritizing agricultural sector to achieve the overall development in Africa. It notes that the performance of agricultural sector and the development prospects of the region are intrinsically linked which determines that government should get more...

  • Paying the Price: Why Rich Countries Must Invest Now in a War on Poverty.  // Future Survey;Sep2005, Vol. 27 Issue 9, p16 

    Focuses on the progress of meeting the Millennium Development Goals of the United Nations to halve poverty and hunger by 2015 according to the report "Paying the Price: Why Rich Countries Must Invest Now in a War on Poverty," released by nonprofit organization Oxfam International. Approaches to...

  • FOOD SECURITY AND THE CHALLENGE OF THE MDGs: The Road Ahead. Diouf, Jacques // UN Chronicle;Dec2007, Vol. 44 Issue 4, p16 

    The article discusses the efforts of the world leaders in addressing the extreme poverty and hunger in developing countries for the Millennium Development Goal (MDG). One of the main objectives of MDG is to eradicate poverty and to provide food security in poor countries as the number of people...


Read the Article


Sorry, but this item is not currently available from your library.

Try another library?
Sign out of this library

Other Topics