An Anthropological Critique of Development: The Growth of Ignorance

An Anthropological Critique of Development: The Growth of Ignorance

An Anthropological Critique of Development: The Growth of Ignorance

An Anthropological Critique of Development: The Growth of Ignorance

Synopsis

Questioning the utopian image of western knowledge as a uniquely successful achievement in its application to economic and social development, this provocative volume, the latest in the EIDOS series, argues that it is unacceptable to dismiss problems encountered by development projects as the inadequate implementation of knowledge. Rather, it suggests that failures stem from the constitution of knowledge and its object.
By focussing on the ways in which agency in development is attributed to experts, thereby turning previously active participants into passive subjects or ignorant objects, the contributors claim that the hidden agenda to the aims of educating and improving the lives of those in the undeveloped world falls little short of perpetuating ignorance.

Excerpt

Most of the chapters in this collection were first presented at a workshop at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, in December 1986. It was organized under the auspices of EIDOS (European Inter-University Development Opportunities Study-Group), which was founded in 1985 and brought together British, Dutch and German anthropologists studying discourses of development. Currently the main participating institutions are the Department of Anthropology and Sociology, the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London; the Institute of Cultural Anthropology/Non-Western Sociology, the Free University, Amsterdam; the Department of Rural Sociology, the Agricultural University, Wageningen; and the Sociology of Development Research Centre, University of Bielefeld, Germany. EIDOS also has a wide network of participating social anthropologists and sociologists from other European institutes.

EIDOS’s aim is to bring together anthropologists and sociologists with theoretical interests and those concerned with development studies in different European centres to reflect critically on processes of development, by arranging student exchanges and by providing support for a series of workshops. The purpose of EIDOS workshops is to further understanding of how anthropological and sociological research and arguments are relevant to theories and debates on development, development priorities, patterns and projects, and the social and cultural implications and consequences of new development programmes. The workshops examine new approaches to a number of the more specific and intractable problems of social and economic development. These include practice and policy transformation in development, local knowledges and the creation of ignorance, the analysis of power relations and resource distribution between interest groups, participants and institutions, and organiz-

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