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International%20Sociology%202000%20Diawara - 13...

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Globalization, Development Politics and Local Knowledge Mamadou Diawara translated by Maria Arnason Point Sud, Center for Research on Local Knowledge, Mali abstract: This article analyzes the poststructuralist criticism of development and insists on the implication of integrated local knowledge and not only indigenous technical know- ledge (IK). The article underlines the cultural dimension and the political dimension that touch age and gender of impli- cated groups. The poststructuralist criticism of development is justifiably stinging. But it has a nihilism that does not bring anything constructive. By making development specialists the focus of their concern, the small farmer – whom they seem to support – paradoxically disappears from sight. Once all the other players are eliminated from consideration except the World Bank and other big players, the reality of development becomes a homogeneous playing field. To block out this sterile theoretical excess, we must take into consideration the different actors in society and consider how each one takes on its own reality of development, which is also present in western agencies simultaneously at work in villages of the Malian Sahara. keywords: development globalization local knowledge postmodernism sub-Saharan Africa The debate about development and development politics is as old as it is aporetic. It is not only conducted in western metropoles, but also in the countries of Africa, Asia and South America. Development – dévéloppe- ment , Entwicklung – is a political slogan that no political leadership can do without: for some, it is ‘socialist development’, for others ‘participatory development’ or, again, ‘a different way of development’. All political movements lay claim to the idea of development. International Sociology June 2000 Vol 15(2): 361–371 SAGE (London, Thousand Oaks, CA and New Delhi) [0268-5809(200006)15:2;361–371;012892] 361
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And yet, the definitions of this concept are contradictory and vague. Let us just look at some of them. Little (1982), for instance, together with some others, sees development as a new version of the idea of economic growth that produces ever more consumer goods. For others (e.g. Apffel- Marglin and Marglin, 1990), development is grounded in a framework of parameters such as economic activity, industrialization, urbanization and use of new technologies in agriculture. On the political level, the essen- tial criteria of development are described as depersonalization of power relations, growth of rationally working bureaucracies and formation of an individualistic mentality. On the cultural level, it is the ‘disenchant- ment of the world’ (Max Weber), the spread of literacy and the progress of scientific research. Finally, for Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan, the concept is mainly concerned with free development of persons and institutions. In contrast to the above varieties of scientific usage, many doctrinaire
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