Development studies and postcolonial studies: Disparate tales of the 'Third World'

Development studies and postcolonial studies: Disparate tales of the 'Third World'
Author: Sylvester, Christine Source: Third World Quarterly 20, no. 4 (Aug 1999): p. 703-721 ISSN: 0143-6597 Number: 04495182 Copyright: Copyright Third World Quarterly 1999


ABSTRACT This article presents and juxtaposes critical genealogies of develpment studies and postcolonial studies, two bodies of liberature on the 'Third World' that ignore each other's missions and writings. I demonstrate that the two fields have some areas of convergence, such as groundings in knowledge of and concern about the West, and other areas of divergence: development studies does not tend to listen to subalterns and postcolonial studies does not tend to concern itself with whether the subaltern is eating. I argue that, of the two fields, postcolonial studies has the greatest potential to be a new and different location of human development thinking if it can overcome a tendency to lock into intellectual rather than practical projects of postcolonialism.

Rajeswari Sunder Rajan has recently written that postcolonial studies is remiss in not addressing issues of 'poverty, resource distribution, state violence, human-rights violations, urban sanitation, development,1 in effect, it makes these issues abject or, as she states it, unmentionable. Phillip Darby has also accused postcolonial studies of 'making a virtue out of being free-floating and open-ended' in a way that enables a discounting or passing over of established disciplines and thought.2 Meanwhile, Signe Arnfred has suggested that development studies needs greater epistemological reflection and 'awareness of history and relations of power'.3 Arturo Escobar has declared that '[d]evelopment is the last and failed attempt to complete the Enlightenment in Asia, Africa, and Latin America' .4

Development studies takes up issues of poverty, resource distribution, and the like. It is one of the realms of theory and practice that can be said to be established both academically and politically, although not without many internal debates. It is not especially open-ended. It is not internally encouraged to be free-floating, although there are free-floaters about. It has theory and it has the power of the Western purse out in the 'Third World'. It is the field, along with imperial history and literature, which postcolonial studies struggles to overcome. hopefully to reveal, in the words of Arif Dirlik, 'societies globally in their complex heterogeneity and contingency'.5 It is also a field that postcolonial studies rarely cites. The same, in reverse, can be said of development studies vis a vis postcolonial brethren and epistemologies. Two giant islands of analysis and enterprise stake out a large part of the world and operate within it-or with respect to it-as if the other had a bad smell.

This article offers brief (and necessarily sweeping) self-genealogies of the two fields-a critical sense of the ways each represents itself-in order to compare across them the types of issues emphasised, off-loaded and missed. Writing from the perspective of one who works in and among development experts, while sceptical of developmentalist creed, I am in between and in violation, no doubt, of the beliefs each field holds dear. Also, of the many possible comparisons and contrasts that could be made between development studies and postcolonial studies, I consider the themes of poverty and voice only, using African cases when possible, to illustrate my points.

One field begins where the other refuses to look

Unwittingly, in the course of his article on postmodernism and postcolonialism, Kwame Anthony Appiah identifies one crucial point where postcolonial studies and development studies run into each other on the terrain called 'Africa'. He writes: 'Despite the overwhelming reality of economic decline; despite unimaginable poverty; despite wars, malnutrition, disease, and political instability, African cultural productivity grows apace: popular literatures, oral narrative and poetry, dance, drama, music, and visual art all thrive .6 Remove the word 'despite', and end the sentence after 'instability', and one has a capsule statement of the types of issues that occupy development studies. Put 'despite' back in, and fast forward to the second half of the sentence beginning with the word 'African', and some sources of postcolonial studies' interest in the 'Third World' are highlighted. There is a similar logic implicated in the histories of the two fields: development studies, as a professional field, was born in the 1950s around three themes of late modernity: decolonisation, rationality and development; postcolonial studies, again as a field, came later in reaction to the agenda-setting power of Western Enlightenment traditions and the capacity to make abject-ie to cast away, place outside-the histories and priorities of those on the receiving end of decolonisation, rationality and development.

Development studies sets a modern pace

With the end of World War II, the Western world was prepared to go beyond the longstanding idea that holding colonies in Asia, Africa, the Pacific and the Caribbean was anachronistic. The colonial powers had been weakened; the preponderance of global power had shifted to a country with less global colonial history than Europe, and the international issues of the moment revolved around conflicts for survival and influence in an atomic and soon nuclear age. For several years there had been reports and recommendations concerning life in the colonies, many of which emphasised the importance of raising living standards for whole populations, particularly 'the poor' within them.7 After the war, machineries of decolonisation were set in motion by colonial states, the United Nations and nationalist agents for independence operating on the ground.

While decolonising processes culminating in political independence were usually sloppy, rushed, insensitive, violent or just haphazard, messengers of Keynesian economic planning made ready to address more 'rationally' what some described as the 'urgent problems of economic development of underdeveloped countries'.8 To hear these economists tell it, the process of attaining economic progress was one of easy choice by the colonies. CS Ayres entitled his 1944 treatise The Theory of Economic Progress, and made the case within its pages (a case that would later be assumed) that:

the technological revolution is itself irresistible, the arbitrary authority and irrational values of pre-scientific, pre-industrial cultures are doomed. Three alternatives confront the partisans of tribal values and beliefs. Resistance, if sufficiently effective, though it cannot save the tribal values, can bring on total revolution. Or ineffective resistance may lead to sequestration like that of the American Indians. The only remaining alternative is that of intelligent, voluntary acceptance of the industrial way of life and the values that go with it.9

For the economists, decolonisation was an unproblematic economic matter of taking up industrial development; classical Marxists and liberal economists alike shared this premise.

Very quickly, the separate concepts of decolonisation, rationality and development collapsed into the catchment of development spun by a burgeoning international industry of bilateral, private, multilateral and academic agencies. Development theory per se began to come together in a field-specific way in the 1950s to deal nearly exclusively with the issue, says Colin Leys, of 'how the economies of the colonies of Britain, France, Portugal and other European powers, colonies comprising some 28% of the world's population, might be transformed and made more productive as decolonisation approached ...'10 A scant decade later, a problematic that had been identified with Europe's colonies was re-emerging, as a set of normal conditions suffered by all countries as they travelled through stages of economic growth the colonial powers had passed out of following the industrial revolution." Because the historical demonstration effect was available, countries at a 'backward' stage could see their progress propelled forward by following the West's guidelines on modernisation. The usual recipe called for local use of resources rationally, in tandem with assistance from developed countries, and within a democratic environment. By following the rationality of modernisation, a country afflicted by underdevelopment could hope to move briskly into the modern tempo of life within a relatively few years, perhaps a decade. The state would be the key monitor of development, economic growth and macroeconomic policy its main concerns.

The modernisation approach obviously had a practical bent that came from un-self-reflexive faith in the winning virtues of the West. That it was a distinctly American 'contribution' to development thinking makes considerable sense too in an era that saw the New World giant overdub the European West. It was also an early response, claims Leys, to the failure of 1940s aid programmes to produce quick positive results in the first postwar cases of decolonisation, mainly India. Leys explains that the gurus of modernisation theory were not the economists so much as sociologists and political scientists outside the US 20, no. 4 (Aug 1999): p. 703-721Agency of International Development (USAID) and the World Bank: 'They believed that in the transition from "traditional" to "modern" forms of social organisation, already completed in the industrialised West, the complex interactions between social change and economic development, mediated by politics, could be traced with some precision, using "structural-functional analysis" and a typology of social structures derived from Weber by Talcott Parsons'.12 There were no people, no complex identities or psychologies in 'traditional' or 'modern' Third World countries, just modes of organisation. This was the era of positivist social science, and development theory was un-self-reflexive about embracing its mode of problem solving.

In the 1970s the dominant development interpretation of decolonisation as political independence, followed by movement through inevitable economic stages, was shaken by scholarship that returned to the dynamics of colonial and postcolonial relations. The main issue, as the development economist Heinz Arndt summarised it, was that some countries should have been farther along than they were: 'Most of the countries of Latin America had been independent for at least a century, yet the great majority of their people remained in poverty'.l3 The development thinking that emerged around the problem of Latin America was the neo-Marxist underdevelopment or dependency school. It did not question the goal of modernisation but did level blame for slow and distorted progress in some parts of the world on historical processes that had stripped colonies of resources, reorganised their lands, pauperised their labour, and created parasitic elites-all so Western countries could have and sustain the once-ever Industrial Revolution. The talk at the time was the development of underdevelopment through mercantile and imperialist exploitation of resources, and of contemporary extensions of colonising relations through trade structures that disadvantaged Third World countries.14

For a few years, says Leys, 'dependency theory held the initiative; and eventually even the international "development community" felt obliged to accommodate some of its perspectives: for instance, the International Labour Office's 1972 call for "redistribution with growth" '.. .tS The orientation assuaged the pain and bewilderment of those whose experiences and ideas were always described as 'backwards' by modernisation theory. Adding to the sense that the 1970s were the decade of the Third World answering back, was the startling insistence by the United Nations Group of 77 on a New International Economic Order (NIEO) that would end dependency relationships. Coming on the heels of the first OPEC price rise and embargo success, it was a triumphant moment that was whittled away by OPEC greed and by the ability of Western states to offer inducements, in the form of military and economic aid, to countries that would break ranks with the NIEO demanders.

Dependency and underdevelopment thinking helped drive scholarly development practice and theoretical debate into an impasse. Unlike the liberal modernisation theories of the 1950s and 1960s, underdevelopment theory was largely pessimistic. Its neo-Marxist precepts offered revolution against the capitalist system as a way out, strategic tips about how to take advantage of economic weaknesses or crises in the developed countries to carve a niche through international trade, and admonitions about the political role of the local working class in pressuring 'compradore' elites. Modernisation ideas maintained appeal because they set forth energetic principles for development, which if followed, promised to deliver a nirvana of material benefits. One might step back, though and ask: benefits to whom? Absent from modernisation theory, and sometimes hidden in underdevelopment theory's structuralist approach, was the older postwar sense of development as a process that should be directed to overcoming poverty. Even while they were at each other's throats, the debaters shared a belief that development was and should be a process which culminated in national industrialisation, technological innovation, acceptance of scientific rationality and resource distribution through state and market processes. The question of which people-women, children, the elderly, the middle classwould receive the benefits of such things was absorbed into undertheorised notions of 'trickle-down' or 'redistribution'.

While modernisation and dependency argued, disparate groups of development thinkers and practitioners turned their attention to what they saw as neglected issues of social development. The United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) was established in 1963 to look into 'relationships among various types of social development during different phases of economic growth'. Others leapt into the void, such as the Institute of Development Studies at Sussex University, and by the late 1960s were denouncing the naivety, at a minimum, of those who equated development with economic growth. In his presidential address to the Eleventh World Congress of the Society for International Development in New Delhi, Dudley Seers famously declared in 1969: 'It looks as if economic growth may not merely fail to solve social and political difficulties; certain types of growth can actually cause them. The questions to be asked about a country's development are therefore: What has been happening to poverty?'17 Concern with poverty as a development goal marked its holders as residing outside mainstream language in the realm of soft alternative development.

By the late 1970s modernisation theory had proven largely disappointing (except, in some ways, for the 'remarkable' rise of Asian economies in Singapore, Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea) and dependency theory was too radical for practical development politics. At that moment, the international political economy went into crisis. The former colonies showed a spiralling oil indebtedness that threatened the international trade and banking system. Inflationary spending in the Vietnam War had already contributed to the US decision to release the dollar from the strict terms of the gold standard. Amid a global depression that set in between 1978 and 1982, a Third World country that had been a showcase of modernisation-Iran-underwent an anti-modernisation revolution. That same year, 1979, staunch Communist China began opening its economy to market forces. Around the 1970s, as well, new social movements began to gather strength and demand a say in development; among them, feminist and environmental groups made real inroads within the rubric of modernisation and underdevelopment theories and Neil Smith describes the times as marking 'an altered globalism"9 that was not easily characterised or controlled by the old locations and concerns of development.

Into the turmoil stepped ultra-rationalist advocates of public sector reform, economic structural adjustment, and good governance, whose admonitions were already being taken to heart in the UK and the USA. Less restricted market mechanisms, these neoliberals claimed, would deliver better development than bloated and kleptocratic governments. In order to work the market successfully, continued loans to Third World states were required; however, these would never do the trick unless already delinquent states made adjustments that would align their economies with those of the West once and for all. Thus emerged the famous conditionalities that became required for new commercial, World Bank and International Monetary Fund loans. Also contributing to the neoliberal development craze was the work of rational choice political scientists like Robert Bates and the institutionalist economic historian, Douglass North.20 These new political economy writers leavened the triumphalism of the market with talk about imperfect information and webs of institutionalised transactions around which rationally choosing individuals sought to maximise their material welfare preferences. While Bates' work, in particular, elevated the average, often demeaned, African peasant to the status of rational actor, the framework of rational choice inclined the approach to neoliberal agendas; indeed, the World Bank has used new institutionalist language in recent publications.21

Smith and Leys concur that the rise of neoliberalism was not just a matter of failed development theory. In Ley's words:

what made possible the triumph of neoliberalism in mainstream development thinking was material, not ideal; the radical transformation in both the structure and the management of the world economy that had begun in the 1960s, and which finally seemed to offer the possibility of creating for the first time in history a truly unified global capitalist economy-and one regulated, if at all, only by institutions reflecting the interests of transnational capital.22

Smith puts the matter of the neoliberal phase of development theory this way: 'The paradigm of modernization has been reinvented as globalization, but they both issue from the same mouth'.23

Simply to make the points he does, Smith draws the story of development theory to one possible end that spills into a postcolonialist critique of Western ways of interpreting and writing colonisation and decolonisation. There has been one way out of that move still, and those within development studies who have concerned themselves with the poverty-orientated as opposed to the adjustment bent of neoliberalism have taken it by presenting various alternative development approaches. Sometimes locating themselves as enlightened descendants of dependency or Keynesian schools of thinking, those claiming alternative development today can be greens, gender and development feminists, socialists, postmodernists and/or advocates of Buddhist economics. What marks them as alternative, claims Jan Nederveen Pieterse, is their approach to 'agents, methods and objectives or values of development'.24 Their goal is to satisfy basic needs, which is a return to the poverty emphasis swept outside during the modernisation and dependency eras. Alternative methods also try to endogenise the development process by encouraging community participation for self-reliance. Its agents are alternately nongovernmental organisations (NGOS), whose budgets reflect 'the enormous increase of development funds being channelled or rechannelled ... [such that they] exceed the total annual disbursements through the IMF and World Bank',25 and/or local people themselves. In all cases, the idea is to present an alternative to the market forces paraded by neoliberalism and to states that often fail to deliver development to their citizens.

Pieterse is sceptical, though, of the claim of alternative development aficionados that they present clear alternatives to the mainstream of development thinking, practice and history. He argues that perhaps 'the big hiatus no longer runs between mainstream and alternative development, but between human development and structural adjustment, or, in other words, between two forms of mainstream development'.26 That is, even the neoliberal wing of the mainstream recognises the importance of social development funds within structural adjustment packages, and all programmes nod towards the elimination of poverty. Moreover, alternative-minded NGOS can fall into the trap of not questioning an ultimate goal of modernisation informing their human development approaches, which undercuts the claim to be offering a new paradigm. In addition, some advocates of alternative development do not read themselves into the communities they are there to help, maintaining instead a position of social distance akin to that of the neoliberal expert in development.

I have conducted research in Zimbabwe comparing perspectives on women workers and their needs, as expressed by development agencies with programmes for women (most of whom see themselves as engaged in alternative development work), with views expressed by people identifying as women workers. The gaps between women's self-conceptions and views held about them by the resourced development agents have often been wide enough to drive a lorry through. The alternative development agents have a loquacious confidence as they characterise women in expansive and not always flattering ways.27 In my interviews with them, I often had the sense that Pieterse articulates well: 'The "alternative" discourse [i]s a way of being progressive without being overly radical and without endorsing a clear ideology: it could be embraced by progressives and conservatives who both ha[ve] axes to grind with the role of states'. One might say that the alternative development enterprise has been within many places of the Third World but is not necessarily at home anywhere there. Steeped in an AmerEurocentric history of development theory and practice, it can lack the tools needed to engage communities of different knowledge and practice-which is emphatically not to say that alternative development agents fail to accomplish anything worthy or that all alternative aficionados lack clarity of mission.

There is one group of development thinkers that has taken alternative critique farther, and these are advocates of postdevelopment. Escobar asks us to imagine a future era in which there is no regime of development in the lead. To do so requires that we take a step back in the process to 'imagine moving away from conventional Western modes of knowing in general in order to make room for other types of knowledge and experience'.29 He returns the focus of development discussion to Latin America, where he has us consider that in the 1990s, some 170 years after political independence, countries in the region are neither bent on 'eradication of all traditions nor triumphantly marching toward progress and modernity, Latin America is seen as characterized by complex processes of cultural hybridization encompassing manifold and multiple modernities and traditions'.30 Not just Latin America: Africa too, one of the newest and least industrialised independent regions of the world, is eloquently described by Appiah as part of a transnational contemporary culture that reproduces multiple identities, modernities, and traditions as neotraditions that are recognisably colonial and postcolonial. The lore of development thinking, he says, has been that '[a]fter colonialism ... comes rationality'.3' Instead, we have something else-in Africa and in Latin America and in the other geographies of globalisation that Smith notes.

Postdevelopment is that description of something else that combines postmodernist and postcolonialist rejections of Western rationality as the modus operandi of all contemporary life, with the related reluctance to accept any grand narratives of history as truth. By no means one current of thought, postdevelopment is the 1980s and 1990s answer to the failures of all theories and practices of development not only to lift standards of living around the world, but to comprehend local ways of knowing and doing in the sites to be helped. It is an approach that is anti-technology and in favour of working at the combined level of reformed ontology and epistemology. Pieterse characterises it thusly:

It shows affinity with the lineage of the Franciscans, liberation theology and Gandhian politics, but the methodology, theoretical framework and politics of post-development are Foucauldian. Its methodological premise is discourse analysis of development ... [its] programme is one of resistance rather than emancipation. Its horizon is made up of ... local struggles A la Foucault, disavowing a universal agenda.32

Given the emphasis on local resistance, considerable faith in postdevelopment circles is placed in liaising with and learning from grassroots social movements. This is the way of becoming ontologically engaged and of beginning to alter an epistemological positionality that derives from Eurocentric training. The grassroots orientation of postdevelopment stands in counterdistinction to the ways some alternative development strategies apply development expertise to local communities. It assumes that by working with local communities at generating knowledge, networks forming the development apparatus', which links development with capitalism and with scientific rationality, will prove irrelevant or bankrupt.33

Laudable in the postdevelopment approach is the effort to form mutual knowledge and practice that operate around and in spite of development practices established by a Western industry. There are problems with this approach too, however. Its generalisations can be encompassing, offering the sense that people who are poor are not as complex as Western people are; that is, their knowledge may be heartfelt, but what they know does not resonate with the practices of modern development. My research with rural cultivators and cooperators in Zimbabwe suggests that many 'Third World' people aspire to modernisation and wish to be consumers of computers, cars and telephones. Such desires undoubtedly reflect the recent prominence of development thinking in the country-new since independence in 1980, when Zimbabwe was removed from the UN list of sanctioned countries and opened into a neoliberal world. Recognising blurred lines between indigenous and foreign knowledge in postcolonial history is one of the key contributions of postcolonial studies. But development studies is not listening, or it would not expect that, after a history of colonisation and globalisation, local communities would be simple and/or largely non-Western in their knowledge bases.34

Still, some Zimbabweanists maintain, shades of Escobar, that rural Zimbabweans resist the technocratic lifeworld of development that has not brought them benefits, and seek instead to install a very different knowledge-power regime of the peasant.35 The women among the peasantry I met pitted a lifeworld of local gender rules that disadvantaged them against the lifeworld of purposive rationality, of modernity, of outside knowledge that, to them, opened the doors to power and development.36 Postdevelopment precepts, again in grand sweeps, can play down the ways that currents of local struggle, such as those that are feminist and those that are patriarchal, can get in each other's way, work at crosspurposes, or amplify reactionary elements.

Relatedly, or put differently, postdevelopment thinking can maintain a distance between the complex experts and the presumably less complex and thus purer subjects of development. Like most development thinking, it seems devoid of a sense of the devious ways that knowledge has been 'worlded' by the forces of globalisation such that local ideas become hybrid. It places faith in new social movements the way Marxists did guerrilla movements of the 1970s, celebrating '[p]easants and grassroots groups in the cities [who] are now sharing with people forced to leave the economic centre the ten thousand tricks they have learned to limit the economy, to mock the economic creed, or to refunctionalize and reformulate modern technology'.37 Sharing is not a simple matter of transferring information; and not all peasants and grassroots groups share or share equitably. Politics give rise to struggles within what outsiders see as the local struggle for voice and improved living standards.

We are left with a field of development studies that is enjoying and suffering the types of reflexivist reforms that have visited other fields of social science. It is a subject that has meandered around the problematic of helping-now focusing on helping the whole country, now turning to the grassroots, and now into self-help through postdevelopment methods, a place where, says Marianne Gronemeyer in a tone of irony, 'help apparently rediscovers its innocence'.3 The problem is that this is not an innocent age-if ever such a thing existed. This is a globalised, mutually implicating and interrogating postcolonial time. Facing it, development studies stands on the millennial stoop, pants around the ankles but shirt pockets bulging conditions, deficits and participatory creeds.

Postcolonial studies creates a challenge

If the theories that comprise a history of development studies have failed or fallen short on their own terms, how much shorter they appear from the perspective of postcolonial studies, wherein 'the Third World' that development studies is bound to fix refuses to accede to its assigned place. It is supposed to be peripheral to the West, to recognise its own internal weaknesses, its opportunities, and keep the eye on getting right whatever is deemed by experts to be off at the moment-prices, gender relations, governance practices, currency rates, interest rates, capitalism, and so on. Postcolonial studies turns the power problematics of decolonisation, rationality and development topsy. It suggests that the colonies and postcolonies have influenced and penetrated the West, that rationality appears in many forms and misshapes-with racism and imperialism as two such misshapes-and that development is an Enlightenment creed that pronounces certain places as what Dipesh Chakrabarty calls 'not yet' and others as 'now'.39

The Third World of postcolonial studies ventures cheekily into the now, thrusting its colonial history alongside its postcolonial moments, not to reject all that is European in its heritage but to insert the periphery, the marginal, the non-expert into their own destinies. Its work finds memories of the past and recent present that are meant by imperial historians to be forgotten, over, prehistory of sorts, or fixed up. To dig them out requires acts of remembering and recovering that which Homi Bhabha calls the painful, dismembered and traumatic;40 alternatively the digging forces a confrontation with what Richard Werbner suggests is nostalgic 'textualised and scriptualised memory'.41 It is also useful to realise that the colonial process restructured colonial powers too-the memory banks and histories are twinned and interpenetrated. Colonial movements begot postcolonial movements around a West that has, in the eyes of Etienne Balibar, now been minoritised, intermarried, infiltrated.42 And yet postcoloniality is a condition that Third Worlders have defined as affecting their lives most acutely. Thus, Ania Loomba contends, 'if it is uprooted from specific locations, 'postcoloniality' cannot be meaningfully investigated, and instead, the term begins to obscure the very relations of domination that it seeks to uncover'.43 There are, in short, recognised differences in power and memories between the twins; postcolonial studies teases out and unravels them.

The genealogy of the less than 20-year-old field is not as obvious or consensual as it is in development studies. Leela Gandhi traces disciplinedefining interests to the Subaltern Studies group in South Asian studies (Chakrabarty revealingly calls Subaltern Studies 'a mutant of area studies '44area studies being a twin to development studies), which emerged in the 1980s, well into development studies' neoliberal Phillip Darby argues that a strong 'claim can be mounted that postcolonialism grew out of the study of fiction written in ex-colonial countries'.46 In either and both cases, there is concern to record world history from the colonial receiving end of it and to mark activities that signal the ways people who may lack Western-sanctioned expertise, central location and comparable academic respect to those who wrote imperial histories, influence their own destinies and those of the West.

How one sets about pursuing those interests, however, has become a matter of considerable contention. There have been debates, for example, about periodisation into colonial/post-colonial eras. The divide can be seen through the work of Edward Said, Frantz Fanon and Leopold Sedar Senghor, who focus on the colonial phase and offer oppositional analyses of it.47 The Subaltern Studies Group has tended to theorise the meaning of the hyphen in post-coloniality, gradually replacing the notion that there is a discernible change that occurs under decolonisation with the sense of postcoloniality as an overarching period of the West with global reach and response-a continuity producing hybrid identities, ambivalences and various forms of travel and concern. Anne McClintock scotches the distinctions somewhat by arguing that the very word 'post' applied to any period refers 'to the principle of linear time and therefore to the idea of 'development' implicit in this view of time'.48

Along with questions about terminology, eras and characteristics, issues arise about how to classify certain countries: are Australia, the USA and Canada colonial, owing to their unresolved native issues? Are they post-colonial because some among them broke from Europe, or postcolonial because all are working out an ongoing European genealogy?49 More prominent still are debates over theoretical and methodological orientations, between 'psychoanalysis (in Homi Bhabha, for example), deconstruction (Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak), feminism (Chandra Mohanty), other forms of Marxism (Aijaz Ahmad);' or 'post-structuralism in the shape of Foucault, and Western Marxism in the shape of Gramsci'.50 There are many debates within debates too; for example, feminist scholars object to work on nationalism that features great male nationalists or a unified patriarchal struggle at the expense of gender analysis.5' Each contested current exists simultaneously rather than in a sequential ordering of internal paradigms or schools of thinking.

Postcolonial studies debates suggest that the field has picked up the reflectivist trends in the human and social sciences that also inspire postdevelopment thinking. Yet, if postcolonial studies reworks history from the perspective of those colonised and made to develop or underdevelop, it is also the case that most of the featured voices in the field share with development studies a certain represented indirectness. In postcolonial studies, voices of everyday people are not gathered so much as analysed when they peek out of imaginative literatures by Third World authors. Darby claims that imaginative literatures from Commonwealth countries were once the keys to recovering the memories of colonial experience (as well as issues of writing style) that imperial history had made abject (and, I might add, development studies had turned into a transition from 'tradition' to modernisation or from self-sufficiency to underdevelopment). As postcolonial studies became more concerned with theorising postcoloniality than gathering narratives of experience through literature, imaginative literature, according to Darby, 'slid further into the background of the discourse. When literary texts are considered, they are more likely to be deconstructed to bring to the surface their representational attributes than examined for their ideational content. In other words, theory has broken free from its secondary status and now speaks through the literary text'.52 Gandhi uses novels to illustrate theoretical points she makes about the interests of the field but does not offer a longer discussion until chapter eight of her nine-chapter book. When she does discuss postcolonial literature systematically, however, she argues that '[d]espite its interdisciplinary concerns, the field of postcolonial studies is marked by a preponderant focus upon "postcolonial literature" '.53 Imaginative literatures are deemed important to the field, but how important and for what contributions remain disputed issues.54

A proliferation of sources, orientations and debates has given postcolonial studies a theoretical richness and openness to multiple forms of information that development studies has lacked. These same characteristics, however, have also given rise to the charge that the field has lost its bearings as a scholarship and a politics that was once oppositional to the dominant imperial stories of Third World history and culture.55 From resistance and recovery, postcolonial studies has moved to the valorisation of ambivalence and hybridity, and from imperial experiences noted by Third Worlders, some of its variants have come to embrace issues of globalisation that bring everyone into the conversation. One might say, as Gandhi does, that the task of revealing the subordinated Third World subaltern speaking-which is a problematic Gayatri Spivak identified in the 1980s56-has inspired an academic field that now 'represent[s] a confusing and often unpleasant babel of subaltern voices ... [informed by] a complex interdisciplinary dialogue within the humanities [and] its uneasy incorporation of mutually antagonistic theories-such as Marxism and poststructuralism'.57 Darby, though, is harsher: he argues that postcolonial studies has become difficult to sort out, not because it draws on so much disparate and often contradictory social theory, but because it lacks clarity about its objectives and, because of that, has rapidly become self-referential.58

That Darby's genealogy of the field differs from the one offered by Gandhi, and both from some details of a similar history written by Loomba, could suggest a scholarship that is still getting its bearings. It is not, I think, that postcolonial studies is lately 'a discourse adrift in a depersonalized and decontextualized world'59 of contingency in all things and the provisionality of identity, place and culture. One might say that the poststructuralist thinking strongly influencing the field today disinclines it towards the universalising strokes that have, until very recently-and unfortunately-characterised development studies. Postcolonial studies might be a new type of field, which, unlike most of development studies refuses the positivist temptation, or is unable to muster the concern, to find 'a' paradigm, a normal science, a mainstream. Its open-ended search for appropriate locations and sources of information, rather than being a sign of any weakness, would then signal intellectual courage and creativity.

Yet there is only so far one can go with that argument. The preoccupation with the West, and its knowledge/power configurations internationally, acts as the paradigmatic grounding for postcolonial studies. The West-often understood as the Anglo West-fascinates in its scope, reach and permutations, in its inducements, rewards, neuroses. Chakrabarty encourages us to provincialise Europe in the sense of making it and its knowledge claims more marginal and ordinary.61 The fact, however, that Europe is the centre of the discourse inhibits expansion of a 'mainstream' that is still very South Asia-British Commonwealth orientated into issues of Japanese colonisation of Korea, Chinese colonisation of Tibet, or even French colonisation of New Caledonia and Niger.62 There is also relatively less interchange than might be imagined between postcolonial studies and African scholars who come at coloniality and postcoloniality by recovering writings of subordinated African intellectuals, and who critically analyse the age of the West through them and through the booming field of African philosophy.63 The degree to which postcolonial studies is a new field that can bring the margins into sight and importance has been unnecessarily limited by a fixation on margins created directly by certain parts of the West.

At the base of the issue of answering back to imperial and later history is the master problem for postcolonial studies of voice. Dirlik has pointedly argued that postcoloniality emerges as the professional concern of intellectuals who have left the terrain of daily postcolonial memory and migrated to affluent universities of the West. The field takes off, to put a modernisation metaphor into Dirlik's mouth, only 'when Third World intellectuals have arrived in First world academe'.64 Accordingly, he reserves the use of 'postcolonialism' to characterise the intellectuals who generate postcolonial studies, as against the focus of the work itself or the condition of the world. Gandhi objects, suggesting that this type of critique can harbour anti-intellectual elements. In any event, the voice problematic is akin to the problem of expert distance within alternative and postdevelopment approaches: one is not often living in and among the people one's work is meant to represent, make visible and/or help. Third World scholars living in the West may be better at reading themselves into the societies they help back home than Western development experts. The question remains, as it does for all people who live in one class, regional or global space and work in or on other spaces: how does distance affect what one sees and who within societies 'over there' the scholar 'over here' can reveal, target or even acknowledge, let alone hear?

Only in alternative and postdevelopment approaches do we witness theoretical and practical concern with participatory forms of development that engage average rural people. In much of postcolonial studies, that type of subaltern is not the focus of research at all.65 Darby pointedly says, 'as it has confirmed its status as an academic discourse, its connection with the interests and aspirations of Third World peoples has been much weakened ... its concerns cannot readily be translated into action on the ground and its oppositional stance does not have much purchase on the power imbalances between North and South'.66 He goes on to diagnose the field as concerned to present experiences and memories of colonial and postcolonial life, but '[t]he question of who could speak [ils less important than what [i]s said'.67 This is a sharp critique, to be sure, for a field that can trace itself to a group concerned explicitly with the subaltern.

Beyond the sense that the word or text takes precedence over the location of the speaker, there is the cousinly spectre that issues of subjectivity and identity politics can take precedence too over matters of material well-being. That is, how the colonial and postcolonial era affects the way people label and think of themselves, and fight among each other, is, to put it meanly, seemingly more important in postcolonial studies than questions of whether people eat. It is important to get the metaphors of postcoloniality right, the theoretical concepts honed. Judging by what has been published so far, it is not as important to use those 'data' to accomplish anything particular on the Third World ground, which is why Rajan, with whom we started this paper, argues that poverty and development studies should figure in postcolonial studies rather than be 'left outside of the explanatory frames'.68

Darby thinks that one way to 'the people', which is where postcolonial studies should in part be, is back through the imaginative literatures that were sidetracked as the academic field of postcolonial studies became concerned with theory and with its place within academe. He argues that '[impressions, vignettes and fragments may contribute to a greater awareness of the constructed nature of academic narratives and their provisionality'.69 In other words, stories can puncture the sophistry of academics by featuring the encounters of ordinary people with colonial agents. Such texts can also take us back to history in new ways, avoiding what Dirlik maintains is the tendency of some students of postcolonial studies to become so wrapped up in post-structuralist language that it substitutes for historical and and social explanation.70 And stories can help us wander imaginatively forward in time and space by suggesting the possibilities implicit in 'the depiction of things that were shared in a period when supposedly they were not, and by showing processes which worked counter to the politics of difference'

The interest in postcolonial studies with issues of wander, travel and globalisation warrants more mention. The West came to what it would later call the Third World through itchy travel, and Third World intellectual elites travel today as restlessly (albeit not with the heavy economic baggage the West brought) to colonial metropoles. They are small in number compared to the many that migrate, are exiled, are made into refugees, or relocate temporarily. In a diasporic world of what Bhabha calls 'DissemiNations', our sense of what is meant by a political entity to be worked through for local development changes. Instead of 'a' state, to which the IMF or World Bank sends evaluation teams, there can be unfixed and ambiguous locations, perhaps markets, and moments of power and culture; Bhabha talks about 'a political object that is new, neither the one nor the other'.72 Loomba admonishes postcolonial studies to find and engage contemporary arenas 'within which colonial institutions and ideas are being moulded into the disparate cultural and socio-economic practices which define our contemporary "globality" '.73 Simon During agrees, arguing that the movements of a globalising world should lead us to ask 'under what structures and pressures are cultural agents all around the world making choices what to communicate or export, what to import and graft, when to shift cross-border allegiances and target markets/audiences, and when to reshuffle their own cultural repertoire to exploit, bolster, shrink or transform their traditions and heritages?'74 Gandhi remains sceptical of the one-world sense that can attach to notions like 'globality'. Dirlik finds postcolonial studies looking too much to the past (but not necessarily with the tools of historical and social analysis) and curiously detached from issues of contemporary movements of global capitalism that 'shape a seemingly shapeless world'.75 Arguably, place is vying with voice as a central problematic in postcolonial studies.

As the field closes in on its second decade, the open-endedness, the debates, the multiple foci and methods persist rather than diminish. Far more interesting than development studies, this field is nonetheless still experiencing growing pains and status concerns that do not afflict its more conservative counterpart. It generates rich theory; and yet Gandhi looks out anxiously at the end of her book and asks: 'So, after such knowledge, what forgiveness?'76

Converging and diverging tendencies

Our brief excursions into the thick fields of development studies and postcolonial studies indicate some areas of convergent thinking and many areas of divergence. Both fields are grounded in knowledge of the West and of its accomplishments and blandishments. Both have also been affected by the postmodern turn in social theory, which pulls apart unified, mostly Western, narratives that were once prized precisely for their consensus value in stimulating normal paradigmatic science or academic study. Those interlocking currents, however, enter the two fields in different ways.

Development studies does not pale at the idea of colonisation. To the contrary, most of today's development work either makes no mention of the colonial period or makes no apology for it; indeed, such work never uses the term 'postcolonial' either. One gets the impression that the structural adjustment wing of mainstream development studies aims to finish once and for all the task of fitting the colonies to the still-modern models of Western political economy. Indeed, supposedly decolonised countries have been unapologetically recolonised through the modernising strictures of multilateral lending agencies. Modernity too continues to be at least the implicit rage in all but the marginalised postdevelopment school of development studies. Around and around this pattern goes but it always ends up following Western trends. As for countries that are not former colonies but are, in a sense, ongoing coloniesAustralia and Canada in their relationship to the Queen of England-the rationality of structural adjustment hits home through analogous practices of public sector reform; or there is New Zealand, which has embraced a structural adjustment regime.

Alternative and postdevelopment tendencies have tried to push development studies in less distanced, abstract and macroeconomic directions; and they have succeeded to the degree that the structural adjustment wing has enabled alternative thinking to be spoken in the corridors of the World Bank (less so in the IMF). But these challenging approaches have fallen down around the issue of voice: the subaltern not only cannot speak in much development studies but she is rarely asked to do so in a way that might contradict what a development agency has already framed or decreed.77 The field is thereby left bereft of her ability to alter its knowledge, even though parts of that field may wish to hear of change.

Postcolonial studies has the potential to be a new and different location of human development thinking-anathema as such a notion sounds. Not infected (as much) by the know-all history of development studies, but just as embroiled in thinking about the West, it is freer to criticise colonialism and creeds of progress openly and to call upon the types of 'data' that development studies scorns-imaginative literature, postmodern theory and travel writing. It can also wander in between the colonial and postcolonial spaces of many locations in order to point out the ways in which agents of development have been restructured and penetrated by colonised peoples. One case that could be developed within a rubric of postcolonial studies is OPEC, a hybrid organisation of Western oil companies represented by Arab and other Third World national interests; it has been a major restructuring instrument of the late twentieth century. The United Nations has had its moments too, having moved from the once near-exclusive preserve of the West to being the home of Third World international relations in a postcolonial era. These globally relevant institutions of Third World-Western voice are locations that postcolonial studies could pass through and study on their many world travels.

The problems with a scenario that puts postcolonial studies into the frame of a development problematic are also multiple. Postcolonial studies has defined itself in opposition to such things as development, albeit not always successfully. It wants to be in and of a world that has been turned around rather than fit itself to inherited notions and practices. It also wants to be in the Western world as a serious intellectual contender and yet avoid the gritty worlds of local and international relations. All of this spells academic respectability and distance from those everyday people that some alternative development agencies at least meet and engage with. Postcolonial studies may not be complicit in bringing structural adjustment and other troubling development projects to South Asia or other postcolonial locations. It does, however, often offer more in the way of new-fangled language than food.

Postcolonial studies may be cruel, but development studies has spent its intellectual capital in toing and froing between top-down and bottom-up creeds of developmentalism, all of which are too steeped in Western bureaucratic authority to generate substantially new ideas. This is not to say that development never works: some countries have enjoyed dramatic increases in life expectancy, literacy and GNP per capital under flawed development regimes: Korea and the Philippines come to mind. Moreover, development is still a field whose money and agendas influence the world. That it gives itself few channels through which to generate and deliver the types of help or critiques thereof that many local people may need and want is its great blind spot.

Postcolonial studies is new and also sufficiently established that it could shake up development by turning its considerable tools of analysis to the issue we started with at the beginning of this paper-poverty. Escobar accuses development studies of inventing poverty and all the issues that have taken centre stage in that field. Postcolonial studies, having neglected direct attention to such issues and their possible solutions-even in an imaginative or theoretical way-is nonetheless better placed than any Western agency to reinvent or recover postcolonial agendas of material well-being that matter on the ground. That many of its aficionados choose not to do so just now does not mean that they will make similar choices in the future. But in order to move into this vacuum, the field needs to recognise, cite and build on the voices of ordinary people, as well as of the scholars who do not leave materially difficult places for the enticements of the USA-this is part of Rajan's message; it must also orientate its agenda to issues that have some practical and material, as opposed to ideational, importance in those places. Such refocusing does not necessarily spell a return to Marxist thinking, for example, in order to stand oppositionally to neoliberalism. It does not mean that the postcolonial intellectual cannot speak openly and differently. Imaginative literatures can be retained. In the spirit of hybridity, postcolonial studies can read itself into the in-betweens of established and new disciplinary thinking and places-hyphenating itself and its knowledges, on its own many terms, with those it ostcnsibly despises, like neoliberalism and developmentalism. One might say that postcolonial studies could find a posture that would be both critical of and empathetic with the problematic of development.

Much of development studies will not condone this type of hybrid work. Postcolonial studies might not be able to stop itself from doing it, perhaps for that very reason. Can it become more attuned to issues and voices that stimulate problem solving, even as it continues the work of reinterpreting the meanings of colonial and postcolonial experience? There are plenty of critiques and dreams of development circulating ambivalently in the villages and urban areas of specific Third World locales. The challenge is to reach into those spaces, pull out and analyse the stuff of everyday postcolonial deprivation and desire. And with that knowledge should come plenty of forgiveness-and perhaps some hope too.




1 Rajeswari Sunder Rajan, 'The Third World academic in other places; or the postcolonial intellectual revisited', Critical Inquiry, 23 (3), 1997, p 615.

2 Phillip Darby, The Fiction of Imperialism: Reading Between International Relations and Postcolonialism, London: Cassell, 1998, p 217.

3 Signe Arnfred (ed), Issues of Methodology and Epistemology in Postcolonial Studies, Roskilde, Sweden: International Development Studies Centre, 1985, p 1.

4 Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1995, p 221.

5 Arif Dirlik, 'The postcolonial aura: criticism in the age of global capitalism', Critical Inquiry, 20 (2), 1994, p 329.

6 Kwame Anthony Appiah, 'Is the post- in postmodernism the post- in postcolonialism?', Critical Inquiry, 17 (2), 1991, p 356.


For example, E Staley, World Economy in Transition, New York: Council on Foreign Relations, 1939; J B Condliffe, Agenda for a Post-War World, London: Allen and Unwin, 1943. 'United Nations, World Economic Report 1948, New York 1949, p 251. 9C E Ayres, 'Foreword' [to 1944 edition] The Theory of Economic Progress: A Study of the Fundamentals of Economic Development and Cultural Change, New York: Schocken Books, 1962, p xxiv. om Colin Leys, The Rise and Fall of Development Theory, London: James Currey, 1996, p 5. Walt W Rostow's name always crops up as a leader of this perspective. See his The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1960. See also Myron Weiner, Modernization: The Dynamics of Growth, New York: Basic Books, 1966. 2 Leys, The Rise and Fall of Development Theory, p 9.

3 Heinz Arndt, Economic Development: The History of an Idea. Chicago, IL: University of Chicago, IL: Press, 1987, pp 119-120.


4 See, for example, O Sunkel, National development and external dependence in Latin America', Journal of Development Studies, October 1969; Celso Furtado. 'The concept of external dependence in the study of underdevelopment', in C K Wilber (ed) The Political Economy of Development and Underdevelopment, New York: Random House, 1973; F H Cardoso & E Faletto, Dependency and Development in Latin America, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1979; Andre Gunder Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America, New York: Monthly Review Press, 1967; and Walter Rodney, How Europe Underdeveloped Africa, Dare es Salaam: Tanzania Publishing House, 1972. 5 Leys, The Rise and Fall of Development Theory, pp ll-12.


UNRISD, Studies for Social Change: An Account of UNRISD's Approaches and Activities, Geneva, nd; p 3. :7 Dudley Seers, 'The meaning of development', International Development Review, December 1969, p 3. Is See discussions in Kathleen Staudt (ed), Women, International Development, and Politics: The Bureaucratic Mire, Philadelphia, PA: Temple University Press, 1997; and Nalini Visvanathan, Lynn Duggan, Laurie Nisonoff & Nan Wiegersma (eds), The Women, Gender and Development Reader, London: Zed Books, 1997.

19 Neil Smith, 'The Satanic geographies of globalization: uneven development in the 1990s', Public Culture, 10 (1), 1997, p 173.

20 Robert Bates, Markets, States, and Tropical Africa, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1981; Douglass North, Structure and Change in Economic History, New York: WW Norton, 1981. 21 World Bank, World Development Reports, Washington, DC: World Bank, 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994. Leys, The Rise and Fall of Development Theory, p 19. 23 Smith, 'The Satanic geographies of globalization', p 174.


24 Jan Nederveen Pieterse, 'My paradigm or yours? Alternative development, post-development, reflexive development', Development and Change, 29, 1998, p 346. Ibid, pp 345-346. 26 Ibid, p 345.

27 Christine Sylvester, Producing Women and Progress in Zimbabwe: Narratives of Identity and Work From the 1980s, Portsmouth, NH: Heinemann Press, 1999; sylvester, 'Development imaginaries: shall we dance, Pygmalion?', paper presented to the International Studies Association Conference, Washington, DC, 1999; and 'Urban Women Cooperators,' 'Progress,' and 'African Feminism' in Zimbabwe, 'Differences': Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 3 (1), 199, pp 39-62. 28 Pieterse, 'My paradigm or yours?', p 348. 29 Escobar, Encountering Development, p 216. 30 Ibid, to 218.


31 Appiah, Is the post- in postmodernism the post- in postcolonialism?', p 353. 32 Pieterse, 'My paradigm or yours?', p 361. 33 Escobar, Encountering Development.

34 Dirklik makes a similar point when he talks about 'the attractions of modernisation and nationalism to vast numbers in Third World populations, let alone to those marginalized by national incorporation in the global economy', See 'The postcolonial aura', p 337.

35 Michael Drinkwater, The State and Agrarian Change in Zimbabwe's Communal Areas, New York: St Martin's Press, 1991.

36 See Christine Sylvester, 'Women' in rural producer groups and the diverse politics of truth in Zimbabwe', in Marianne Marchand & Jane Parpart (eds), Feminism/Postmodernism/Development, London: Routledge, 1995, pp 182-203.

37 Gustavo Esteva, 'Development', in The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power, London: Zed Books, 1992, p 21.

38 Marianne Gronemeyer, 'Helping', in Gronemeyer, The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as

Power, London: Zed Books, 1992, p 66.

39 Dipesh Chakrabarty, 'Provincializing Europe: postcolonialism and historical difference', lecture given at the Humanities Research Centre, Australian National University, 10 August 1998. 40 Homi Bhabha, The Location of Culture, London: Routledge, 1994, p 63.


41 Richard Werbner (ed), Memory and the Postcolony: African Anthropology and the Critique of Power, London: Zed Books, 1998, p IS.

42 Etienne Balibar talks about the prospects for 'minorities without stable or unquestionable majorities' in and about the emerging political entity of Europe in his 'Ambiguous universality', Differences: Journal of Feminist Cultural Studies, 7 (1), 1995, p 56. 43 Ania Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism, London: Routledge, 1998, p 19. 44 Dipesh Chakrabarty, 'Reconstructing liberalism? Notes toward a conversation between area studies and diasporic studies', Public Culture, 10 (3), 1998, p 460.

45 Leela Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory: A Critical Introduction, St Leonards: Allen and Unwin, 1998, ch 1. 46 Phillip Darby, 'Postcolonialism', in 'Darby at the edge of International Relations'. Postcolonialism, Gender and Dependency, London: Pinter, 1997, p 13.


47 Edward Said, Orientalism: Western Conceptions of the Orient, London: Penguin, 1991; Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, trans Charles Lamm Markmann, New York: Grove Press, 1967; Leopold Sedar Senghor, The African Reader: Independent Africa, London: Vintage, Random Century, 1970. Patrick Williams and Laura Chrisman offer a Postcolonial Studies Reader that emphasises differences between colonial and post-colonial theory. See their Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory: A Reader, New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1993.

48 Anne McClintock, 'The angel of progress: pitfalls of the term "Postcolonialism" ', Social Text, Spring 1992, p 2.

49 On both debates see Gandhi, Postcolonial Theorv. Helen Tiffen is one name associated with the claim that Australia at least, although a colonial power itself vis ei vis Aboriginal inhabitants, can claim a relationship to the West (Britain) that is postcolonial. See her work in I Adam & H Tiffin (eds), Past the Last Post: Theorizing Postcolonialism and Postmodernism, New York: Harvester Wheatsheaf, 1991 and B Ashcroft, G Griffiths & H Tiffen, The Empire Writes Back: Theory and Practice in Postcolonial Literatures, London: Routledge, 1989.


so Patrick Williams & Laura Chrisman, 'Colonial discourse and post-colonial theory: an introduction', in Williams to Chrisman Colonial Discourse and Post-Colonial Theory, p 5, 6. St See, for example, P Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments: Colonial and Postcolonial Histories, Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1993, and Gayatri Spivak, 'Can the subaltern speak?', in Cary Nelson & Lawrence (eds), Marxist Interpretations of Culture, Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1988, pp 271-313.

5 Darby, The Fiction of Imperialism, p 220. 53 Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory, p 141.

54 Influential texts include all the oeuvre of Salmon Rushdie, but particularly Midnight's Children, London:


Picador, 1982; also, Raja Rao's Kanthapura, Delhi: Orient Paperbacks, 1971; and work by Ben Okri (eg Dangerous Love, London: Phoenix, 1996).

55 Among those with this challenge are Dirlik, 'The postcoloinal aura'; Aijaz Ahmad, In Theory: Classes, Nations, Literatures, London: Verso, 1992; and Rosaliand O'Hanlon & David Washbrook, 'After Orientalism: culture, criticism and politics in the Third World', Comparative Studies in History and Society, 34 (1), 1992, pp 141-166.

56 Spivak, 'Can the subaltern speak?' 57 Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory, p 3. 58 Darby, 'Postcolonialism', p 13. 59 Ibid, p 16.

6 A tendency in that direction still holds within the alternative development 'school', with Martha Nussbaum's philosophical efforts to define a basic list of human needs particularly well-known. See Martha Nussbaum & Jonathan Glover (eds), Women, Culture and Development: A Study of Human Capabilities, Oxford: Clarendon Press 1995.


61 Dipesh Chakrabarty, 'Postcoloniality and the artifice of history: who speaks for "Indian" pasts?', Representations, 37, 1992, pp 1-26.

62 A contribution has been made by Korean women living in the West and by Korean-Americans. Elaine H Kim & Chungmoo Choi (eds), Dangerous Women: Gender and Korean Nationalism, New York: Routledge, 1998. See also Rob Wilson & Arif Dirlik (eds), Asia/Pacific as Space of Cultural Production, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1995.

63 For a sample of that work, see Emmanuel Chukwudi Eze (ed), Postcolonial African Philosophy: A Critical Reader, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997. In another context, Richard Werbner writes about the influence of Appiah, Achille Mbembe and Valentin Mudimbe in postcolonial studies, declaring them *arguably an African Trinity in the emerging canon, but a lesser Trinity'. See Werbner's 'Multiple identities, plural arenas', in Richard Werbner & Terence Ranger (eds), Postcolonial Identities in Africa, London: Zed Books, 1996, p 7. Works by the 'African Trinity' include: Kwame Appiah, In My Father's House: Africa in the Philosophy of Culture, London: Methuen, 1992: Achille Mbembe, 'Provisional notes on the postcolony', Africa. 62 (1), 1992, pp 3-37; and Valentin Mudimbe, The Invention of Africa, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1988.


64 Dirlik, 'The postcolonial aura', p 329.

65 Benita Parry shares this concern with the suppression of native voice. See her 'Problems in current theories of colonial discourse', Oxford Literary Review, 9 (1-2), 1987, pp 27-58. So does Sumit Sakar, 'Orientalism revisited: Saidian frameworks in the writing of modern Indian history', Oxford Literary Review, 16 (1-2), pp 205-224.

66 Darby, 'Postcolonialism', p 22. 67 Ibid, p 23.

bs Rajan, 'The Third World academic in other places', p 615. 69 Darby, The Fiction of Imperialism, p 216.

70 This is his criticism of Homi Bhabha. See Dirlik, 'The postcolonial aura', p 333. 71 Darby, The Fiction of Imperialism, p 224.


72 Bhabha, The Location of Culture, p 25, emphasis in the original. Other postcolonialist travel writers include Caren Kaplan, Questions of Travel: Postmodern Discourses of Displacement, Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 1996; and Mary Louise Pratt, Imperial Eyes: Travel Writing and Transculturation, London: Routledge, 1992.

73 Loomba, Colonialism/Postcolonialism, pp 256-257.

74 Simon During, 'Postcolonialism and globalisation: a dialectical relation after all'?', Postcolonial Studies: Culture, Politics, Economy, I (1), 1998, p 33. 75 Dirlik, 'The postcolonial aura', p 355. 76 Gandhi, Postcolonial Theory, p 176.


This seems to be true even of humanitarian aid agencies: they talk to subalterns but rarely ask those they help to comment on the nature and quality of the help. See Raymond Apthorpe & Philippa Atkinson, Local Voices: Towards Shared Social Learning for Humanitarian Programmes, An Association for Learning Network in Assessment and Practice [in Humanitarian Programmes] Study, London: ODI, April 1999.

78 It is interesting with regard to the issue of distance, however, that Gayatri Spivak has been engaged in teacher training in India, Algeria and Bangladesh. She has also spoken to staff at the World Bank about ways it could learn from the bottom (including from the women of developing countries) while also thinking imaginatively about new routes to sustainable change. I thank Deborah Foskey for drawing my attention to a summary of her comments before the Bank delivered to the Gender and Law Thematic Group, 12 April, 1999.

Author Affiliation:

Christine Sylvester is Director of the Project on Gender, Culture and Globalisation at the Australian National University, National Centre for Development Studies, Canberra, ACT 0200, Australia.

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Oct 27 2005 17:15



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