The politics of governing development
DOI link for The politics of governing development
The politics of governing development book
The concept of ‘development’ invokes a series of distinct images and routinely reproduced ‘common sense’ interpretations. This includes the architecture of modernization: urbanization, technological advancement with the underlying assumption that development is a process deﬁned by ‘stages of growth’ of people and peoples progressing along a linear conception of history. Yet historical analysis of development explicates the way in which development has been a process organized through relations of domination and practices of dispossession justiﬁed in terms of inequalities of other people and peoples. There has been much resistance to this process and challenges to the ‘development project’ continue today. In this chapter, we critically unpack this conventional understanding of
‘development’. In doing so, our purpose is to show that the ‘common sense’ understanding of development and the relations associated with it together form a political discourse. In accordance with the conceptual and practical frames provided by this discourse, plans can be drawn up, policies administered and critics or advocates of development identiﬁed for either ‘reform’ or support. However, from the perspective of the political analysis we are presenting here, the more important feature of this discourse is what it conceals, renders unimportant or exempts from scrutiny. In order to demonstrate what is at stake here, we proceed in two parts, aimed at providing a broad canvas for understanding the politics of governing development. We examine the legacies that underpin the discourse of development, and we explain how it operates to justify and consolidate political power, rule and governance. Thus, initially we show how ‘development’ was established through a set of highly speciﬁc and problematic power relations that were premised on conceptions of inequalities; we then demonstrate with reference to examples how these continue to operate discernibly in the contemporary context. Finally, we discuss forms of resistance to the politics of governing development. In pervasive fashion, development experts and international development
agencies are today factoring in ‘good governance’ as a hallmark to justify diﬀerences in the level of development between countries. Development agencies are using indicators of good governance to select countries worthy of assistance based on the argument that it is the ‘soundness of good policies’ that guarantees aid eﬀectiveness. The expectation is that discriminating in aid
policy based on ‘good governance performance’ (aid selectivity) will encourage the voluntary adoption of systems based on market rules that provide stability to private-sector investors and further economic growth (World Bank 1992). By the 19th century, non-European countries were already perceived as low on the scale of civilization and, therefore, not capable of governing themselves. Following the argument that not all countries possess the same capacity for representative government, liberal supporters like Mill (1865) argued that despotism was the appropriate method to bring them to higher civilization. For centuries countries positioned higher on the scale of civilization perceived it a duty, the ‘white man’s burden’, to govern those identiﬁed as unruly; the methods used to fulﬁl this self-authorized duty varied from direct forms of governance, such as colonial occupation, trusteeship and capitulation, to more indirect, subtle mechanisms such as selectivity and shame (Gong 1984; Pagden 1998). We argue that contemporary attempts to govern countries identiﬁed as
ranking low on the scale of development have colonial origins; two global designs,1 Christianity and the civilizing mission, preceded development in its quest to govern populations. The universalization of global imaginaries and the idea of locating populations along coordinates of time and space have been central to the production of hegemonic projects for managing the planet. This chapter historicizes the systems of rule produced by these global designs and examines the various rationalities and forms of governing that have accompanied them. The rationalities that sustain these regimes have not followed a sequential pattern, nor have they produced homogeneous forms of government; although discontinuous, some of these rationalities are recuperated selectively and reappear in renewed form, as in the case of racism, which was at the centre of the colonial project (Stoler 1995: 89; see Shilliam in this volume). This chapter pays special attention to development as a global design, and its managing practices such as conditionality, selectivity and new imperialism.