development without developing

Hau’ofa, E. (1993). ‘Our Sea of Islands’. In E. Waddell, V. Naidu and E. Hau’ofa (eds.).

A New Oceania: Rediscovering our Sea of Islands. University of South Pacific, Suva, pp. 2-17.

The author presents a vision of Oceania based on his observations of behaviour at the grassroots. He raises the awareness of the reader by referring to smallness as a state of mind, highlighting the distinguishable characteristics of the people of Oceania who conceived their world in macroscopic proportions and saw themselves belonging to Oceania, “a sea of Islands”. This on the other hand was seen by Europeans as merely Islands in a far sea. According to the author paying attention to what people do rather than to what they should be doing allows us to see the broader picture of reality (p. 12).

This paper shows how myths, legends, oral traditions and cosmologies were all treasures which constituted the life of the people of Oceania and their richness. Labelling them barbaric only because they are different, shows Europeans’ judgmental attitude and lack of sensing the diversity of humanity and their codes. The people of Oceania are naturally expanding social networks through reciprocity and therefore already progressing. Development is a natural part of their life. The west has misused the meaning of it in order to construct a reality that puts all non-westerners in one box called “underdeveloped”. Development here has fed people’s lethargy until becoming what Paulo Freire calls the “culture of silence” (Freire 1996, 12). Notwithstanding the evil force embedded in development, it is worth observing one vivid fact this paper reflects on: it is significantly harder to “colonise” people’s minds when they operate interdependently like the people of Oceania, rather than dependently such as the Third World (p.13).

Cowen, M. and R. Shenton (1995). ‘The Invention of Development’. In J. Crush (ed.).
Power of Development. London: Routledge, pp. 27-43.

This paper presents the complexity and indispensability of the term “development” through different theories of the nineteenth century which show its vastness going from an economical, political and social interpretation of it (Adam Smith, Thomas Maltus, Saint – Simonians, August Compt, Friedrich List) to a far deeper philosophical view based on individuality – the necessity of choice and the radical rejection of conformity (p.39). According to the latter perspective, “development can only occur where the conditions of development are already present” (p. 40). Esteva’s and Mill’s theories awake some truth within development. Esteva highlights the importance of awareness while Mill the significance of choice. For Esteva “in order for someone to conceive the possibility of escaping from a particular condition, it is necessary first to feel that one has fallen into that condition” (1992, 7).

Development can only come from “within” as stated by Mill according to who people need to choose their own path and employ all their mental faculties (p. 39). Development cannot possibly come from the outside or a past reality. History is past knowledge and is not the key for development since society is constantly undergoing radical transformations. Any theory based on history is a mere assumption and therefore invalid. If development comes from within then there is no room for the West to investigate into solutions leading to the achievement of development. This is a concept existing only in the mind of human beings. The West has used its tools of discourse to transmogrify this concept into a fact. Hau’ofa refers to the people of Oceania and states that “there are no more suitable people on earth to be guardians of the world’s largest ocean than those for whom it has been home for generations” (1993, 14).

Rist, G. (2002). ‘The Invention of Development’, The History of Development. Zed
Books, London, Chapter 4, pp. 69-79.

This paper describes the devastated post war situation characterised by the emerging of the USA as a controlling power. The USA did this by determining a new way of conceiving international relations. Their main focus was rebuilding the North, hence pushing inadvertently the changes of the South into the background. President Truman gave light to a new world view by redefining development as a transitive phenomenon and consequently altering the meaning of “underdevelopment” to a “naturally occurring state of things” (p.73). Underdevelopment was not the opposite of development, but only its incomplete form (p.74). As a result, development became a goal achievable through a determined application of modern scientific and technical knowledge.

Truman projected a new world-view. On the one hand he proclaimed freedom and equality for all nations liberating the ex-colonies from their status of dependency. On the other hand he drew a new picture of the world dividing it into developed and underdeveloped countries and people. What Truman alimented with the rise of underdevelopment is what the Brazilian author Paulo Freire calls sectarianism, an obstacle to the emancipation of mankind (1996, p. 19). Development and underdevelopment do not exist. Truman created this concept and fed the human mind with the illusion of being able to “realize the aspirations for a better life” (p.71). Development here is a reminder of what they lack and are meant to become (Esteva 1992, 10). It is a way of exploiting the South by an evil and quixotic promise of independence. Development is a new way of dependency alimented by free markets. Moreover, development is a synonym for dehumanisation which marks those whose humanity has been stolen and those who have stolen it (Freire 1996, 26) or in other words the oppressed and the oppressor respectively.

Esteva, G. (1992). ‘Development’. In W. Sachs (ed.). The Development Dictionary. Zed,
London, pp. 6-25.

This paper shows the darkness of development. It is seen as a series of actions towards the achievement of prosperity which is Truman’s policy. Development transmogrified two third of the people of the world into a mirror of others’ reality that belittles them, defines their identity and classifies them as underdeveloped (p.7), a perception that already existed in countries such as Latin America. It has been deepened through the rise of this term and become a fact.
It is noticeable how the meaning of development has changed from a metaphorical connotation which explained the natural growth of plants and animals to the process of evolution of living beings (Darwin), to the natural process of social change, combining nature and history and converting the latter into a programme.

Development seems to be connoting a plurality of meanings and at the same time annulling or naturalising those when seen with the eyes of the “now”. Historical development cannot be the continuation of natural development. Analysing today’s world by referring back to history means applying thought and intention to reality and consequently changing its naturalness. History is an accumulation of facts valid only in the past. Using historical facts to culminate today’s meaning of development means dismantling the world of its interconnected processes which form its totality and thus changing its reality. Any meaning given to development forms a certain imagination in people and consequently creates their reality. The term development today is a judgement originated by thought which divides and classifies the totality of the world into rich and poor and other binaries. It is not a fact but a concept which loses its validity as soon as individuals cease comparing each others’ realities.

McMichael, P. (2008). Development and Social Change. A Global Perspective.
‘Instituting the Development Project’, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA., Chapter 2, pp.25-54.

The author of this paper outlines the features of the development project seen as a natural response to the process of decolonisation. It was a plan of the nation state and a strategy for world order deploying a method based on the division of labour. The result of this was an unequal ecological exchange. It compelled non-European countries to reduce their agriculture to an export monoculture. In this way the sustainability and prosperity of the industrial countries was secured and dependent on the extraction of raw materials of the South. The sustainability of the human community which previously depended on a local system has been threatened. Over-harvesting substituted the previous process of producing only what necessary.

Development is a reality which exists only for those who are brainwashed by the elites and the media. Development is not the destiny of human kind. It is a tool to control the actual development of the other countries. It is the disease of the South which already contains the tools for its development and therefore does not need to cooperate with the West. The West is destroying human nature through its technological advancements. At the same time it preaches hope, solutions and order in the name of development. As a result, development “under-develops” and devalues other people and countries. Overharvesting “under-develops” countries while the creation of the stereotype of poverty devalues people accordingly. It is worthwhile noticing how overabundance and wastefulness dismantle the Islamic concept of falah according to which prosperity is not achievable through materialism (Sardar 1997, 52). In this case the notion of development and its practice goes against indigenous knowledge. According to the Shamans of the Amazon, for instance, the frequent eruption of volcanoes, tsunamis and cyclones are the manifestation of the anger of nature which has not been looked after. They consider technology destructive and see themselves as “the people who know” (Shamans of the Amazon 2010, youtube). In conclusion, a new conscience of the people needs to be formed in order to redevelop and get back to the status quo of humanity, where what is grown is strictly connected to what is eaten and not determined by money (McMichael 2008, 33).

Escobar, A. (1988). ‘Power and Visibility: Development and the Invention and
Management of the Third World’, Cultural Anthropology, 3(4): 428-443.

Escobar depicts the post war scenario of the world showing the functioning of development and mapping of the Third World. The former is based on the inevitable process of industrialisation imposed onto “poor” countries through planning, reorganising economic and social life while the latter has been classified by development policy based on discourses and programs. The visibility of the practices rendered development programs as techniques of power and knowledge apparent. As a result, development altered long-standing cultural practices, meanings and their social relations respectively.

Development has passed from merely being a potent discourse to a powerful missile of controlling the world, transmogrifying its natural diversity into homogeneity. Its meaning has clearly and intentionally been distorted and has strategically shaped people’s perception of the world. The introduction of development as a plan is a rationalised method of ruling the world and dividing it conveniently into binaries such as poor and rich. Moreover, it is a way of imposing one’s values onto other people who cannot be simply categorised as belonging to one group only, namely the Third World. What is known to be the Third World today is again a very restricted way of looking at it. The Third World constitutes a plurality of realities each of which functions differently and needs to be approached accordingly. Development can only exist if seen in its context. It is only valuable if it comes from the inside-out rather than from the outside-in. Accordingly, development does not need to be integrated with Western knowledge. Indigenous people possess their own systems of belief and knowledge through which they are able to progress. Progress does not go hand in hand with technology. Likewise prosperity is not the result of an abundance of materialism. Both progress and prosperity are a state of happiness based on total freedom. As a result, development is the happiness of the people living in that particular country.

Pieterse, J.N. (2000). ‘After Post Development’, The Third World Quarterly, 21(2): 175-191.

This paper shows the colossal intricacies and complications of development both as a theory and policy. At the same time it displays the enormous dilemma of post development and alternative development which the author considers flawed. The former rejects development but does not offer any constructive action while the latter seems to be attributing to it a narrow meaning excluding its polysemic realities and therefore reproducing the same result. The author embraces a new view of development seeing it as a vivid aspect of the Third World as well.

Post development thinking and development are two interconnected concepts which do not reject but rather attract each other. One cannot be thought of without the other. Development connotes infinite realities and therefore cannot be seen in only one perspective. Like poverty or any other concept, development is in the eye of the beholder and therefore connotes positive and negative realities. The meaning of positive and negative is also pluralistic and varies from eye to eye. Poverty, for instance, can be a deficit or a resource (Pieterse 2000, 177). It depends on the reality one comes from and is looking at it. Therefore, any concept incorporates an infinite corpus of meanings due to a polysemic reality. The interconnection of plural realities is what makes development so vast and complex. In order to see the beauty of it one needs to see things as they are.

Schlech, S. and Haggis, J. (2008). ‘Culture and Development’, in: V. Desai and R.Potter
(eds.). The Companion to Development Studies. Hodder Education, London, pp.50-54.

The author shows the pivotal but undefined role culture plays in the process of development. On the one hand culture explains why some countries succeed and others fail in development (Harrison and Huntington, 2000, as cited in Schlech and Haggis 2008, 50). On the other hand culture is used as a development tool by a variety of development actors to hold societies together giving them a coherent structure which can be used for development interventions. These development actors succeed in displaying an altered and well defined world through the utilisation of techniques of definition such as the International poverty Line. The Third World, for instance, is an artificial creation of the West.

Culture is a highly complex feature of humanity that incorporates plural realities and therefore cannot be simply categorised. Culture can be considered as the result of one’s conditioning by present and past experience. Therefore, culture contains a traditional and modern nature. The former is not barbarian but part of the past, while the latter is part of the present. Modernity and tradition are synonyms of new and old and do not imply “right” or “wrong”. Those societies labelled “underdeveloped” are already “modern” and “developed” because they are different from yesterday and will naturally grow without the influence of an external force imposing its culture upon them and making them underdeveloped. These well-developed societies have been framed as “underdeveloped” under one unique culture formed by powerful institutions such as the UN.

Briggs, J. (2008). ‘Indigenous Knowledge and Development’. In V. Desai and R Potter
(eds.). The Companion to Development Studies. Hodder Education, London, pp. 107-111.

The author of this paper analyses indigenous knowledge and its applicability and validity in the process of development. Indigenous knowledge has become significant because it allowed people to live in harmony with nature while being able to make a living (p.107). According to the author, the reason why the validity of indigenous knowledge has not been acknowledged is because firstly, it is complex, changing, irrational and therefore compared to a rational and controlled Western science does not give credibility because it remains undefined. Secondly, it is place-specific and consequently not easily transferable over the globe.

The approach of the author and several other theorists of development towards indigenous knowledge ultimately highlights the distortion of the term development which has shifted its pure and innate meaning of “societal progress as the flowering of people’s creativity” (Pieterse 2000, 183: Arisur Rahman 1993, 213-214) to a means of power over the globe. The validity of indigenous knowledge has already been confirmed as it has necessarily been integrated into the World Bank supported programs. This shows the West’s limitations in the progress of development whose goal is the achievement of global economy and society through a process of homogenisation. Development can only be country-specific because people, countries and time are different. As a result, it is necessarily based on the principle of accepting diversity. The development of a country needs to be seen with the eyes of the indigenous people living in that country who do not limit themselves to only one way of development. Therefore technology transfer cannot be a universal way to achieve development. This shows the limitations of the West in the process of development. Where there is a way there lies limitation. Development, therefore, is multiple, plural and diverse.

Sardar, Z. (1997). ‘Beyond Development: An Islamic Perspective’. European Journal of
Development Research, 8 (2): 36-55.

The author’s aim is to clarify that development does not fit non-western countries and therefore when it is imposed on them it fragments and destroys societies based on different world views which is referred to as “traditional”. Sardar’s idea of development is rooted in the discourse of “Islamation of knowledge” (p. 46-53). The author shows the flaws of development which are hidden in western rhetoric of democracy and human rights leading to the imposition of free-market and consequently framing the Third World in a situation of dependency. Non-western countries have been sustainable before the west discovered the notion of sustainable development. They have always enjoyed the rights of long life, security and community participation. The West has threatened these rights by suppressing tradition. As a result, traditional cultures can develop within their own systems of belief and knowledge. They are dynamic and constantly changing according to their own logic. Respecting their own system of progressing is what gives richness and meaning to their lives. Sadar foresees a “multiciviliasational” future which will drastically change the meaning of development. There will be more than one way of being human and there will be more than one way to “develop” (p.46).

Development implies opening up to other worlds. In essence there are infinite realities and therefore infinite ways of development in the world. There is no right or wrong way. However, there will be only one way until people become aware of their condition and realise that they have choice. “Those who recognise, or begin to recognise, themselves as oppressed must be among the developers of this pedagogy” (Freire 1996, 35-36). However, no reality transforms by itself. The achievement of freedom is based on choice. The South needs to choose “authentic comradeship” and reject gregariousness (Freire 1996, 30). In conclusion, for development to fully be applicable the West needs to get rid of its xenophobic beliefs, be humble and embrace the emergence of diversity and plurality.

Poetic Lyric

References

Briggs, J. (2008). ‘Indigenous Knowledge and Development’. In V. Desai and R Potter
(eds.). The Companion to Development Studies. Hodder Education, London, pp. 107-111.

Cowen, M. and R. Shenton (1995). ‘The Invention of Development’. In J. Crush (ed.).
Power of Development. London: Routledge, pp. 27-43.

Escobar, A. (1988). ‘Power and Visibility: Development and the Invention and
Management of the Third World’, Cultural Anthropology, 3(4): 428-443.

Esteva, G. (1992). ‘Development’. In W. Sachs (ed.). The Development Dictionary. Zed,
London, pp. 6-25.

Freire, P. (1996). Pedagogy of the Oppressed. London: Penguin Group. Chapter 1,
pp.25-52.

Hau’ofa, E. (1993). ‘Our Sea of Islands’. In E. Waddell, V. Naidu and E. Hau’ofa (eds.).
A New Oceania: Rediscovering our Sea of Islands. University of South Pacific, Suva, pp. 2-17.

McMichael, P. (2008). Development and Social Change. A Global Perspective.
‘Instituting the Development Project’, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA., Chapter 2, pp.25-54.

Pieterse, J.N. (2000). ‘After Post Development’, The Third World Quarterly, 21(2):
175-191.

Rist, G. (2002). ‘The Invention of Development’, The History of Development. Zed
Books, London, Chapter 4, pp. 69-79.

Sardar, Z. (1997). ‘Beyond Development: An Islamic Perspective’. European Journal of
Development Research, 8 (2): 36-55.

Schlech, S. and Haggis, J. (2008). ‘Culture and Development’, in: V. Desai and R.Potter
(eds.). The Companion to Development Studies. Hodder Education, London, pp.50-54.

Pushedforfreedom (2010, May 22), Shamans of the Amazon speak of our destructive
nature. This is a case of rebellion against technology and modernisation seen as the cause of destructive nature(Youtube clip). Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=udcSlVic2jg

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