(2005) edited by Uma Kothari
This edited collection assembles what are otherwise often scattered and implicit contributions to thinking on the history of Development Studies as a subject. The authors reflect on their own experiences in the sector and examine the evolution of both the roles of institutions and development discourse. In doing so, this book presents a more nuanced and contested evolution and serves to highlight the contributions made by thinking, which although part of its day, is seldom part of orthodox recollection.
For anyone new to the subject this historical perspective provides an essential introduction to its origins, which constitutes the backdrop to fuller understanding of contemporary changes and trends in both the theory and practice of development.
Although I would not go as far as calling this a radical history of development, I think this book provides a very accessible, incisive, and overall, critical alternative view on the subject’s development in the United Kingdom. In my view this book is essential reading for students of development, and wish a similar title had been available during my first encounters with the subject.
In this book some of the leading thinkers in development studies trace the history of their multi-disciplinary subject from late the colonial period and its establishment during decolonization all the way to its contemporary concerns with poverty reduction.
They present a critical genealogy of development by looking at the contested evolution and roles of development institutions and exploring changes in development discourses. These recollections, by those who teach, research and practice development, challenges simplistic unilinear periodizations of the evolution of the discipline, and draw attention to those ongoing critiques of Development Studies, including Marxism, feminism and postcolonialism, which so often have been marginalized in mainstream development discourse. The contributors combine personal and institutional reflections with an examination of key themes, including gender and development NGOs, and natural resource management. The book is radical in that it challenges orthodoxies of development theory and practice and highlights concealed, critical discourses that have been written out of conventional stories of development. The contributors provide different versions of the history of development by inscribing their experiences and interpretations, some from left-inclined intellectual perspectives. Their accounts elucidate a more complex and nuanced understanding of Development Studies over time, simultaneously revealing common themes and trends, and they also attempt to reposition Development Studies along a more critical trajectory.
A Radical History of Development Studies is intended to stimulate new thinking on where the discipline may be moving. It ought also to be of great use to students coming to grips with the historical continuities and divergences in the theory and practice of development.