DEVS 240/3.0 Culture and Development
This course interrogates the way development practices and ideas are embedded in cultural contexts. A core argument is that the global development industry is historically and culturally entangled in Western conceptions of progress, rationality, and the individual. From this viewpoint, culture, as tradition, has often been understood to impede development. However, a more critical strand within social science, and development theory, has long argued that the dominant Western ideas about individual maximisation, and technocratic solutions exacerbate inequalities and poverty that make development necessary in the first place. The course seeks to look beyond global development as wealth creation, to consider the different meanings that are brought into the development arena, and the way these inform orientations and interactions ‘on the ground.’ Questions of power and cultural relativism inevitably arise: What happens when different interests and commitments collide, and who or what determines the course development interventions take? Through the use of specific case studies, primary research evidence and the exploration of audio-visual material, the concept of culture will reveal tensions and contestations of taken for granted processes of development and offers a more nuanced approach to the discipline.