Postdevelopment, professionalism, and the politics of participation

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62 Citations (Scopus)


Development is a project of hope, guided by the aspiration for greater social justice and emancipation of the poor and disadvantaged in the world. Over the past decade postdevelopment critics have argued that this project of hope has failed, and, instead of creating a fairer world, development can only serve to perpetuate uneven power relationships. Emerging work by postdevelopment authors reinvigorates the positive promise of development as a project toward emancipation and social justice. Discursive practices of development professionals in northern Thailand illustrate how one might conceive of a postdevelopment practice in which aspirations toward social justice and emancipation can coexist alongside the messy realities of development work. Drawing on contemporary discourse theory, Ernesto Laclau's conceptualization of hegemonic struggle provides conceptual tools for thinking beyond the bind of development-as-power. Using hegemony to reimagine development as first and foremost a form of political engagement it becomes possible to imagine viable postdevelopment approaches and strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)772-785
Number of pages14
JournalAnnals of the American Association of Geographers
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2007
Externally publishedYes


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