-Gilbert Rist, in The History of Development (p.229). It’s an absolutely monumental book, though you’ll have to wade through rather dense analysis mixed with this sort of biting wit.
(posted by Dean)
-Wolfgang Sachs, “The Need for a Home Perspective,” in The Post-Development Reader
This was a favorite quote picked up independently by a few participants in the seminar.
It’s a recurring theme in the post-development/critical development literature, as the next quote post will show.
-Eduardo Galeano, “To Be Like Them” in the Post-Development Reader
(posted by Dean)
A really thought-provoking response to Week 8’s readings by a participant:
I think the main theme of Pfieffer and Hanlon’s readings is that we (donors, people who want to help) should trust the needy with money. I think this fits in really well with the power discussion we had a couple weeks ago – if money is power (and it is, in a lot of ways, as we saw last week), what Pfieffer and Hanlon are saying is that the powerful need to redistribute power, to surrender some of their power to the less powerful. Right now, by imposing conditions on aid, the powerful are trying to keep control over their money, and it is doing little to reduce inequality. I think the lack of trust also contributes to the self-perpetuating nature of NGOs. If they don’t trust the locals enough to eventually hand over projects/operations to them, either the NGO stays there forever or the project dies after they leave.
I do agree that there needs to be more trust in developing countries and their people, because not trusting them is paternalistic and just a way of holding onto power (and inequality). But the idea of money does get to me a little bit. That one day in class, when we predicted the future for a community that gets a tractor, we came up with all sorts of terrible outcomes, revolving around introducing them to the money economy. That makes me a little reluctant, now, to champion just giving money away. I recognize some differences in the two situations – a one-time purchase of a tractor versus sustained cash payments, but still have concerns. Cash payments help insulate the poor against market forces, like increases in grain price, but I’m not sure how it would address environmental concerns, or what it would do to change what development looks like (is it still industrialization and commercialization?).
I really agree with so many of your points, and appreciate you linking it back to the issue of money and integration into the broader capitalist “development” system. It’s what I struggle with in regards to Hanlon’s idea too. I’m not sure I have an answer. But if the alternative is horrendously complex NGO/donor projects with thousands of pages of paperwork and competition etc., I’d rather see money go straight to the poor. Yet the question remains: is this really “development”? And is it simply reifying an environmentally unsustainable system of economic growth? [See week 3.]
That said, even those who argue for a steady state, no-growth economy are quite adamant that we need to spread the resources we do have more evenly as we transition to a more sustainable economy. And to do that, Hanlon makes the case that cash transfers are a much more effective way than fancy and convoluted NGO projects in many contexts.
from Elaine’s response to Ancient Futures:
It may be interesting to look if Ladakhi people would want to help develop ways that they can influence the development of communities around the world. This idea explicitly flips the role of the “north” helping the “south.” There would need to be genuine interest and effort by Ladakhi people.
I wonder if there have been efforts of this type where the roles are opposite of the common dichotomy of the “north” helping the “south.”
You’re on to something - there are some efforts to facilitate South-South and even South—>North exchanges. I’d say the former is more common than the latter, but one you might find particularly interesting is Design for the 1st World. The story goes that a design student in NYU was told to design something for the “third world” as a class project. She took that idea and flipped it around, making a contest for the “third world” to design something for our “first world” problems like obesity, social anomie, etc.
Just a handful of grassroots south-south exchanges (which also exchange South-North):
The World Social Forum - this is huge!
Via Campesina - food justice network
Multiworld - alternative education and knowledge from the South
Helena Norberg-Hodge’s organization, International Society for Ecology and Culture (ISEC) has tried to encourage the North to learn from Ladakh. How much other communities around the South have been able to learn from Ladakh I’m not sure.
It would be a wonderful initiative to take on!