What’s not to like about ‘development’? Gustavo Esteva

Surely wanting to help people is a good thing? Not necessarily so according to Mexican thinker and activist Gustavo Esteva. He is an advocate of post-development; an academic movement which calls for the dismantling of ‘development’ from the World Bank to international NGOs.

What does Esteva write about?

Esteva’s essay Development  asks “what does development actually mean?” He traces the history of the word to illustrate that ‘development’ is not something that has always existed. Rather it is an idea, something that has been invented. Continue reading


Participation: people power by putting the first last? Robert Chambers

How can we thoroughly involve local communities in ‘development’? Participation is the answer according to the “undisciplined” academic and ever energetic practitioner Robert Chambers, based at the Institute of Development Studies in Sussex.

Following widespread criticism of conventional top-down technocratic interventions, the concept of participation has emerged since the 1990s as an essential element of a people-centred ‘development’ paradigm which aims to put the poorest first.

This is the first in what will hopefully become a series of “digests” of some academic ‘development’ thinkers, exploring their main ideas and provoking a discussion about how they may and may not be useful. Continue reading