Race and development
DOI link for Race and development
Race and development book
Development discourse owes a great deal to sociological models of modernity. Modern societies are understood to be composed of individuals all of whom, regardless of their personal attributes, enjoy equal rights under the law. The distribution of needs through economic and political circuits is supposed to operate in an increasingly universal and objective fashion favouring no one by reference to particular personal attributes, but by the impersonal demand and supply of the market or by some form of rational means-tested welfare that covers all citizens. The dominant interpretation of modern world development (whether ‘neo-liberal’ and favouring the autonomy of market forces, or a ‘capabilities approach’ and recognizing the necessity of political intervention) can be understood as the universalization of these methods and mechanisms of distributing need across all societies and cultures. The related problems of modernization that development studies seeks to
address-such as poverty, inequality, unsustainable population growth, environmental decay and urban/rural linkages-are not usually investigated explicitly in terms of their racial dimensions (exceptions include White 2002; Kothari 2006; Duﬃeld 1996; Goudge 2003). This is because mainstream notions of development assume that race is a personalized attribute that is anachronistic to the progressive integration-rather than segregation-of impersonalized individuals within modern (and putatively global) publicpolitical and private-economic spheres. Racism is presumed to be inimical to the progressive universalization of individual rights and freedoms, a process assured by the entrenchment and expansion of free markets and civil society. That is to say, racial identity is something that modern ideas of development presume to be atavistic (against this assumption see Chua 2003). In this chapter I argue that modern world development, as a set of practices and discourses, has always been and continues to be deﬁned by the hierarchical ordering and re-ordering of humanity into racially delineated groups. Race is no atavistic force; rather, it has been a foundational ordering principle of modern world development, one that has been re-articulated and fought over both as an idea and in practice. To pursue this argument I proceed by sketching out four broad periods of
modern world development and focus upon the racial dimension of thought and practice evident in each. I focus on key notions associated with the liberal
understanding of world development as ‘modernization’: these include economic growth, increased inter-dependence through trade, the associated entrenchment of individual freedoms, and the homogenization of cultural values and standards of living. Rather than simply disavowing liberal thought per se as racist, my intent is to plead for a sensitivity to the continued-if changingracial dimension practices of modern world development, most of which are embedded in liberal narratives of universal technical, economic and moral progress. There are also many diﬀerent understandings of race and many frameworks exist through which to plot a narrative of the development of race and racism in modern world history. In this chapter I deploy one broad framing of the problem of race in modernity-namely, the tension between naturalistic understandings of race as a genetic marker of diﬀerent ‘stocks’ of humankind (often associated with the polygenesis thesis of multiple origins to human races), and historical understandings of race as socially and environmentally constituted (often associated with the monogenesis thesis of a common origin of humanity) (see Goldberg 1993: 4; see also Hannaford 1996). While liberal notions of progress that in the main inform the notion of modern world development are more at home with the universal scope of the historicalmonogenetic approach, the naturalistic-polygenetic understanding-usually associated with non-liberal ideologies such as Nazism-has nevertheless remained inﬂuential. Indeed, as I shall suggest, it is over the invocation of the ‘bad’, ‘recalcitrant’ or ‘un-reformable’ native where both approaches have tended to synergize. It is within this contradictory framework of race that discourses and practices of modern world development have apprehended continuity, change and diﬀerence within the human condition. I begin by looking at the period of Atlantic slavery. I show how in this period
world development was structured as a hierarchical and racialized ordering of social beings, and I show how Enlightenment thought considered some races to be not human enough, so that the possibility of progress in the human condition was quarantined to the white European race. Then, moving to the 19th century I show how in the era of European imperialism liberal thought deemed the possibility of progress to apply universally to all human groups. However, I show how this universality was mobilized for a ‘civilizing mission’ that ascribed the right and responsibility of the civilized white European race imperially to school non-white savage and barbarian races in the ways of progress. Turning to the Cold War period, I show how Western leadership of the development project was signiﬁcantly undermined by a coalition of previously colonized societies which moved the ideological battleground over progress directly onto the terrain of a critique of European (and US) racism. Finally, I look at the tendency in post-Cold War development thought and practice to deploy both a naturalized understanding of racial diﬀerence and a socio-historical narrative of the civilizing mission. Moreover, this tendency is posited upon an assumption that by not speaking explicitly in the language of race, the development project can be safely shorn of its historical reliance upon the construction of racial hierarchies and segregations.