Postdevelopment theory (also post-development or anti-development or development criticism) holds that the whole concept and practice of development is a reflection of Western-Northern hegemony over the rest of the world. Postdevelopment thought arose in the 1980s out of criticisms voiced against development projects and development theory, which justified them.
The postdevelopment critique holds that modern development theory is a creation of academia in tandem with an underlying political and economic ideology. The academic, political, and economic nature of development means it tends to be policy oriented, problem-driven, and therefore effective only in terms of and in relation to a particular, pre-existing social theory.
The actual development projects thus initiated, by both governments and NGOs, are directed in accordance with this development theory. Development theory itself, however, assumes a framework already set in place by government and political culture in order to implement it. The development process is therefore socially constructed; Western interests are guiding its direction and outcome, and so development itself fundamentally reflects the pattern of Western hegemony.
Development as an ideology and a social vision is ingrained in the ideals of modernization, which holds western economic structure and society as a universal model for others to follow and emulate. Rooted in western influence, the developmental discourse reflects the unequal power relations between the west and the rest of the world, whereby the western knowledge of development, approach toward development, and conception of what development entails, as well as perceptions of progress, directs the course for the rest of the world.
Influenced by Ivan Illich and other critics of colonialism and postcolonialism, a number of post-development theorists like Arturo Escobar and Gustavo Esteva have challenged the very meaning of development. According to them, the way we understand development is rooted in the earlier colonial discourse that depicts the North as "advanced" and "progressive", and the South as "backward", "degenerate" and "primitive".
They point out that a new way of thinking about development began in 1949 with President Harry Truman's declaration: "The old imperialism—exploitation for foreign profit—has no place in our plans. What we envisage is a program of development based on the concepts of democratic fair dealings."  While claiming that the "era of development" began at this point, post development theorists do not suggest that the concept of development was new. What was new was the definition of development in terms of an escape from underdevelopment. Since the latter referred to two-thirds of the world, this meant that most societies were made to see themselves as having fallen into the undignified condition of "underdevelopment", and thus to look outside of their own cultures for salvation.
Development, according to these critics, was now a euphemism for post-war American hegemony; it was the ideals and development programs of the United States and its (Western) European allies that would form the basis of development everywhere else.
Post-development theory arose in the 1980s and 1990s through the works of scholars like Arturo Escobar, Gustavo Esteva, Majid Rahnema, Wolfgang Sachs, James Ferguson, Serge Latouche, and Gilbert Rist. Leading members of the post-development school argue that development was always unjust, never worked, and at this point has clearly failed. According to Wolfgang Sachs, a leading member of the post-development school, "the idea of development stands like a ruin in the intellectual landscape" and "it is time to dismantle this mental structure."
To cite an example of this "mental structure", development theorists point out how the concept of development has resulted in the hierarchy of developed and underdeveloped nations, where the developed nations are seen as more advanced and superior to the underdeveloped nations that are conceived as inferior, in need of help from the developed nations, and desiring to be like the developed nations. The post-development school of thought points out that the models of development are often ethnocentric (in this case Eurocentric), universalist, and based on western models of industrialization that are unsustainable in this world of limited resources and ineffective for their ignorance of the local, cultural and historical contexts of the peoples to which they are applied. In essence, the problem post-development theorists see in development and its practice is an imbalance of influence or domination by the west. Post development theorists promote more pluralism in ideas about development.
Among the starting points and basic assumptions of post-development thought is the idea that a middle-class, Western lifestyle and all that goes with it (which might include the nuclear family, mass consumption, living in suburbia and extensive private space), may neither be a realistic nor a desirable goal for the majority of the world's population. In this sense, development is seen as requiring the loss, or indeed the deliberate extermination (ethnocide) of indigenous culture or other psychologically and environmentally rich and rewarding modes of life. As a result, formerly satisfactory ways of life become dissatisfying because development changes people's perception of themselves.
Majid Rahnema cites Helena Norberg-Hodge: "To take an example, Helena Norberg-Hodge mentions how the notion of poverty hardly existed in Ladakh when she visited that country for the first time in 1975. Today she says, it has become part of the language. When visiting an outlying village some eight years ago, Helena asked a young Ladakhi where were the poorest houses. 'We have no poor houses in our village,' was the proud reply. Recently Helena saw the same Ladakhi talking to an American tourist and overheard him say, 'if only you could do something for us, we are so poor.'"
Development is seen as a set of knowledges, interventions and worldviews (in short, discourses) which are also powers: to intervene, to transform and to rule. Post-development critiques challenge the notion of a single path to development and demands acknowledgment of diversity of cultural perspectives and priorities.
For example, the politics of defining and satisfying needs is a crucial dimension of development thought, deeply entwined in the concept of agency. But who voices development concerns, what power relations are played out, how do the interests of development "experts" (the World Bank, IMF officials, professionals, and so on) rule the development priorities, and which voices are excluded as a result? The post-development approach attempts to overcome the inequality of this discourse by opening up spaces for non-Western peoples and their concerns.
Postdevelopment theory is, above all, a critique of the standard assumptions about progress: who possesses the key to it and how it may be implemented.
While the postdevelopment school provides a plethora of development critiques, it also considers alternative methods for bringing about positive change. The postdevelopment school proposes a particular vision of society removed from the discourse of development, modernity, politics, cultural and economic influences from the west, and market oriented and centralized authoritarian societies.
In his works, Escobar has outlined the common features of post-development thought and societal vision. According to Escobar, the post-development school of thought is interested (in terms of searching for an alternative to development) in "local culture and knowledge; a critical stance toward established scientific discourses; and the defense and promotion of localized, pluralistic grassroots movements." Grassroots movements, Escobar argues, are "local, pluralistic, and distrust organized politics and development establishment." (Escobar, 2017)
Post-development thought takes inspiration from vernacular societies, the informal sector and frugal rather than materialistic lifestyles. Furthermore, post-development theorists advocate for structural changes. According to Escobar, post-developmental thinking believes that the economy must be based around solidarity and reciprocity; policy must focus on direct democracy; and knowledge systems should be traditional, or at least a hybrid of modern and traditional knowledge.
One of the leading anti-development writers, James Ferguson contributed to what John Rapley termed "the most important of the opening salvos" of post-development theory with his book The Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho. In The Anti-Politics Machine Ferguson describes the failure of the development project to properly understand the cultural and economic values of the people of Lesotho. This misunderstanding led to misappropriation of resources by the international community and myriad negative consequences for Basotho (residents of Lesotho), prompting Ferguson to comment that "Capitalist interests [...] can only operate through a set of social and cultural structures so complex that the outcome may be only a baroque and unrecognizable transformation of the original intention." Development projects cannot simply create a desired result, but instead have a number of unexpected consequences.
Ferguson suggests that although development projects often end in failure, they still produce tangible impacts in the physical and social-political environment. In The Anti-Politics Machine, he asks, "What do aid programs do besides fail to help poor people?" In the case of Lesotho, Ferguson proposes that, "while the project did not transform livestock-keeping it did build a road to link to Thaba-Tsea more strongly with the capital." Ferguson argues that there is value to understanding and thinking about the unintended consequences for an environment.
Critics of development do not deny the need for change. They argue instead that to enact proper and effective change, change itself must first be conceived in different terms. Arturo Escobar, another leading member of the post-development school, argues:
While social change has probably always been part of the human experience, it was only within the European modernity that 'society', i.e. the whole way of life of a people, was open to empirical analysis and made the subject of planned change. And while communities in the Third World may find that there is a need for some sort of organised or directed change—in part to reverse the damage done by development—this undoubtedly will not take the form of 'designing life' or social engineering. In this long run, this means that categories and meanings have to be redefined; through their innovative political practice, new social movements of various kinds are already embarked on this process of redefining the social, and knowledge itself.
Majid Rahnema addresses the question of which path to take directly in his conclusion to the Post-Development Reader. Rahnema admits that it may be true that a large majority of people, whose lives are in fact difficult, do want change. But the answer he suggests is not development but the "end of development". He says that the end of development is not "An end to the search for new possibilities of change, for a relational world of friendship, or for genuine processes of regeneration able to give birth to new forms of solidarity". Rather, Rahnema argues, the "inhumane and the ultimately destructive approach to change is over. It should resemble a call to the 'good people' everywhere to think and work together."
Serge Latouche is a French emeritus professor in economy at the University of Paris-Sud. A specialist in North-South economic and cultural relations, and in social sciences epistemology, he has developed a critical theory towards economic orthodoxy. He denounces economism, utilitarianism in social sciences, consumer society and the notion of sustainable development. He particularly criticizes the notions of economic efficiency and economic rationalism. He is one of the thinkers and most renowned partisans of the degrowth theory. Latouche has also published in the Revue de Mauss, a French anti-utilitarian journal.
Wolfgang Sachs is a leading writer in post-development thought. Most of his writing is focused on environmentally sustainable development and the idea that past notions of development are naturally unsustainable practices on our finite planet. However, in 1992 he co-authored and edited The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power which contributed greatly to the compilation of post development literature as a general theory.
This manifesto posits that the new era of development that emerged in the 1950s was created by the United States in order to secure its new hegemonic position in the global community. Sachs explains that the concept of "underdevelopment" was actually constructed in Harry S. Truman's 1949 inaugural address, which popularized the term. Sachs argues that the creation of this term was a discrete, strategic move to secure American hegemony by reinforcing the idea that the United States is at the top, and other countries on a lower pillar, of a linear and singular trajectory of development. It created a homogeneous identity for these countries and stripped them of their own diverse characteristics. "It converts participation into a manipulative trick to involve people in struggles for getting what the powerful want to impose on them."
The Development Dictionary describes a biological metaphor for development. This biological metaphor was transferred to the social sphere and perpetuated the ideal that there is one natural way to develop into the perfect form. To develop in a manner disparate from the "natural order of things" was to become a disfigured anomaly. This definition held the potential to provide morally ambiguous justification for imperialist behavior and can be connected to colonial discourse and mainstream development theories. Under such categorization, Sachs explains, development was reduced to a simple measurement of the economic growth of per capita production.
Sachs issues a cry for public awareness of the "limits of development." He leaves the reader with the idea of the "New Commons" and posits that men and women should begin with this awareness before attempting to introduce new political policies with room for creativity and innovation in diverse development paths.
There is a large body of works which are critical of post-development theory and its proponents. It has been noted that post-development theory sees all development as imposed upon the developing world by the West. This dualist perspective of development may be unrealistic, and Marc Edelman notes that a large proportion of development has risen from, rather than been imposed upon, the developing world. Citing Jonathan Crush's point that "Development, for all its power to speak and to control the terms of speaking, has never been impervious to challenge and resistance, nor, in response, to reformulation and change" Ray Kiely argues that "The post-development idea is thus part of a long history within the development discourse." In short, Kiely argues that post-development theory is merely the latest version of a set of criticisms that have long been evident within writing and thought in the field of development. Development has always been about choices, Kiely explains. Choices with resulting losers and winners, dilemmas and destruction, as well as creative possibility.
There are a number of more fundamental objections to the postdevelopment school. The first is that it overstates its case. A rejection of all development is a rejection of the possibility for material advancement and transformation. It ignores the tangible transformations in life opportunities and health and material well-being that has been evident in parts of the developing world. Moreover, development itself is so varied and carries so many meanings that critiques need to be specific about their intention when they claim to be "post- development". By damning development all together, post-development theorists fail to notice the heterogeneity within development discourse. They categorize all development under the umbrella of Western hegemony, contradictively applying the same sort of essentialist generalization post-development theorists reject.
Critics also argue that post-development perpetuates cultural relativism: the idea that cultural beliefs and practices can be judged only by those who practice them. By accepting all cultural behaviors and beliefs as valid and rejecting a universal standard for living and understanding life, critics of post-development argue, post-development represents the opposite extreme of universalism, extreme relativism. Such a relativist extreme, rather than besting extreme universalism, has equally dangerous implications. John Rapley points out that "rejection of essentialism rests itself on an essentialist claim – namely, that all truth is constructed and arbitrary[...]"
Kiely also argues that by rejecting a top-down, centralized approach to development and promoting development through local means, post-development thought perpetuates neo-liberal ideals. Kiely remarks that "The argument — upheld by dependency and post-development theory — that the First World needs the Third World, and vice versa, rehearses neo-liberal assumptions that the world is an equal playing field in which all nation states have the capacity to compete equally[...]" In other words, making locals responsible for their own predicament, post-development unintentionally agrees with neo-liberalist ideology that favors decentralized projects and ignores the possibility of assisting impoverished demographics, instead making the fallacious assumption that such demographics must succeed on their own initiative alone. Kiely notes that not all grassroots movements are progressive. Post-development is seen to empower anti-modern fundamentalists and traditionalists, who may hold non-progressive and oppressive values.
Arturo Escobar (born 1952) is a Colombian-American anthropologist and the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA. His academic research interests include political ecology, anthropology of development, social movements, anti-globalization movements, and postdevelopment theory.Cultural studies
Cultural studies is a field of theoretically, politically, and empirically engaged cultural analysis that concentrates upon the political dynamics of contemporary culture, its historical foundations, defining traits, conflicts, and contingencies. Cultural studies researchers generally investigate how cultural practices relate to wider systems of power associated with or operating through social phenomena, such as ideology, class structures, national formations, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and generation. Cultural studies views cultures not as fixed, bounded, stable, and discrete entities, but rather as constantly interacting and changing sets of practices and processes. The field of cultural studies encompasses a range of theoretical and methodological perspectives and practices. Although distinct from the discipline of cultural anthropology and the interdisciplinary field of ethnic studies, cultural studies draws upon and has contributed to each of these fields.Cultural studies was initially developed by British academics in the late 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and has been subsequently taken up and transformed by scholars from many different disciplines around the world. Cultural studies is avowedly and even radically interdisciplinary and can sometimes be seen as antidisciplinary. A key concern for cultural studies practitioners is the examination of the forces within and through which socially organized people conduct and participate in the construction of their everyday lives. As a result, Cultural Studies as a field of research is not concerned with the linguistically uncategorized experiences of individuals, or, in a more radical approach, holds that individual experiences do not exist, being always the result of a particular social-political context.
Cultural studies combines a variety of politically engaged critical approaches drawn including semiotics, Marxism, feminist theory, ethnography, critical race theory, post-structuralism, postcolonialism, social theory, political theory, history, philosophy, literary theory, media theory, film/video studies, communication studies, political economy, translation studies, museum studies and art history/criticism to study cultural phenomena in various societies and historical periods. Cultural studies seeks to understand how meaning is generated, disseminated, contested, bound up with systems of power and control, and produced from the social, political and economic spheres within a particular social formation or conjuncture. Important theories of cultural hegemony and agency have both influenced and been developed by the cultural studies movement, as have many recent major communication theories and agendas, such as those that attempt to explain and analyze the cultural forces related and processes of globalization.
During the rise of neo-liberalism in Britain and the US, cultural studies both became a global movement, and attracted the attention of many conservative opponents both within and beyond universities for a variety of reasons. Some left-wing critics associated particularly with Marxist forms of political economy also attacked cultural studies for allegedly overstating the importance of cultural phenomena. While cultural studies continues to have its detractors, the field has become a kind of a worldwide movement that is to this day associated with a raft of scholarly associations and programs, annual international conferences, publications and students and practitioners from Taiwan to Amsterdam and from Bangalore to Santa Cruz. Somewhat distinct approaches to cultural studies have emerged in different national and regional contexts such as the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, Asia, Africa and Italy.Degrowth
Degrowth (French: décroissance) is a political, economic, and social movement based on ecological economics, anti-consumerist and anti-capitalist ideas. It is also considered an essential economic strategy responding to the limits-to-growth dilemma (see The Path to Degrowth in Overdeveloped Countries and post-growth). Degrowth thinkers and activists advocate for the downscaling of production and consumption – the contraction of economies – arguing that overconsumption lies at the root of long term environmental issues and social inequalities. Key to the concept of degrowth is that reducing consumption does not require individual martyring or a decrease in well-being. Rather, "degrowthers" aim to maximize happiness and well-being through non-consumptive means—sharing work, consuming less, while devoting more time to art, music, family, nature, culture and community.Development theory
Development theory is a collection of theories about how desirable change in society is best achieved. Such theories draw on a variety of social science disciplines and approaches. In this article, multiple theories are discussed, as are recent developments with regard to these theories. Depending on which theory that is being looked at, there are different explanations to the process of development and their inequalitiesFar-Fetched Facts
Far-fetched facts is a book by German anthropologist Richard Rottenburg published in German as Weit hergeholte Fakten in 2002; the English translation was released in 2009. The book is an ethnography-based, though fictionalized, polyphonic account of a waterworks improvement project in Tanzania (called Ruritania in the books fictionalization). The book follows the different stages of the development project by looking closely at the interactions between a Northern development bank, experts of an international consulting firm and African project managers. It focuses thereby on technologies of inscription that enable the reconnaissance and operationalization of improvement measures to be taken, but also guide the overall interaction between the different stakeholders of the project. Showing these representational and managerial practices the book lays bare the necessary day-to-day production of objectivity and legitimacy in development projects, but also the intricacies and inconsistencies of daily translation processes, that often lead to the rather disappointing results of such development enterprises. Inspired by organizational and science and technology studies “Far-fetched facts” provides an anthropological critique of the aid industry in Africa distinct from postdevelopment critique.Gilbert Rist
Gilbert Rist was an honorary professor at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva and a thought leader of postdevelopment theory. He is best known for his ground-breaking study, The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith, which criticizes development.
He holds a PhD from the Graduate Institute of International Studies.Globalization
Globalization or globalisation is the process of interaction and integration among people, companies, and governments worldwide. As a complex and multifaceted phenomenon, globalization is considered by some as a form of capitalist expansion which entails the integration of local and national economies into a global, unregulated market economy. Globalization has grown due to advances in transportation and communication technology. With the increased global interactions comes the growth of international trade, ideas, and culture. Globalization is primarily an economic process of interaction and integration that's associated with social and cultural aspects. However, conflicts and diplomacy are also large parts of the history of globalization, and modern globalization.
Economically, globalization involves goods, services, the economic resources of capital, technology, and data. Also, the expansions of global markets liberalize the economic
activities of the exchange of goods and funds. Removal of Cross-Border Trades barriers has made formation of
Global Markets more feasible. The steam locomotive, steamship, jet engine, and container ships are some of the advances in the means of transport while the rise of the telegraph and its modern offspring, the Internet and mobile phones show development in telecommunications infrastructure. All of these improvements have been major factors in globalization and have generated further interdependence of economic and cultural activities around the globe.Though many scholars place the origins of globalization in modern times, others trace its history long before the European Age of Discovery and voyages to the New World, some even to the third millennium BC. Large-scale globalization began in the 1820s. In the late 19th century and early 20th century, the connectivity of the world's economies and cultures grew very quickly. The term globalization is recent, only establishing its current meaning in the 1970s.In 2000, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) identified four basic aspects of globalization: trade and transactions, capital and investment movements, migration and movement of people, and the dissemination of knowledge. Further, environmental challenges such as global warming, cross-boundary water, air pollution, and over-fishing of the ocean are linked with globalization. Globalizing processes affect and are affected by business and work organization, economics, socio-cultural resources, and the natural environment. Academic literature commonly subdivides globalization into three major areas: economic globalization, cultural globalization, and political globalization.List of Colombian Americans
This is a list of notable Colombian Americans, including both original immigrants who obtained American citizenship and their American descendants.
To be included in this list, the person must have a Wikipedia article showing they are Colombian American or must have references showing they are Colombian American and are notable.Majid Rahnema
Majid Rahnema (1924 – 14 April 2015) was a diplomat and former Minister of Iran, born in Tehran. He represented Iran at the UN from 1957 to 1971. He works on problems of poverty and production processes of poverty by the market economy.Serge Latouche
Serge Latouche (; French: [latuʃ]; born January 12, 1940) is a French emeritus professor of economics at the University of Paris-Sud. He holds a degree in political sciences, in philosophy and in economy.