TITLE

Disciplinary Biases in Approaching African Development

AUTHOR(S)
Pes, Luca G.
PUB. DATE
December 2007
SOURCE
Global Jurist;Dec2007, Vol. 7 Issue 3, p6
SOURCE TYPE
Academic Journal
DOC. TYPE
Article
ABSTRACT
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.
ACCESSION #
57524374

 

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