‘Theorising back’: views from the South and the globalisation of resistance
This chapter continues the focus on where and how knowledge and theories of development have been produced and considers the recent shift in perspective towards a concern with redistributing power through popular ‘participation’ and ‘empowerment’ approaches. In what ways do development theories and practices express centralising tendencies and why have ‘grassroots’ and ‘bottom-up’ approaches been important? Questions of social and cultural identity (particularly to do with gender and ethnicity) are discussed here, since it is necessary to understand how the places and spaces of development are not socially homogeneous but fractured by a range of important identities and through resistances of various kinds. Apparently unconnected ‘social tremors’ around the world in recent years have highlighted the links that bind peoples and places to the world economic system. The word resistance refers to ‘any action, imbued with intent, that attempts to challenge, change, or retain particular societal relations, processes and/or institutions’ (Routledge, 1997: 69). This chapter seeks to examine a wide range of resistance to neoliberal ideologies and free trade mythologies,
exploring the connections that can and are being made between peoples and places around the world for the promotion of support and solidarity networks. In an earlier chapter we explored how dependency theorists had sought to ‘theorise back’, to countenance liberal assumptions about growth and progress. For David Slater, the dependency writers deployed a geopolitical imagination that sought to prioritise autonomy and diﬀerence in order to ‘break the subordinating eﬀect of metropolissatelite relations’ (Slater, 1993: 430). This chapter seeks to extend this concern by focusing on insurgent resistance groups and the ways in which they are also attempting to strike or answer back and are similarly deploying a geopolitical imagination in order to challenge western assumptions about development from afar and from below.