Deconstructing Development Discourse: Buzzwords and Fuzzwords

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Andrea Cornwall, Deborah Eade
Practical Action Publishing, 2010 - Social Science - 320 pages
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Writing from diverse locations, contributors critically examine some of the key terms in current development discourse. Why should language matter to those who are doing development? Surely, there are more urgent things to do than sit around mulling over semantics? But language does matter. Whether emptied of their original meaning, essentially vacuous, or hotly contested, the language of development not only shapes our imagined worlds, but also justifies interventions in real people's lives. If development buzzwords conceal ideological differences or sloppy thinking, then the process of constructive deconstruction makes it possible to re-examine what have become catch-all terms like civil society and poverty reduction, or bland aid-agency terms such as partnership or empowerment. Such engagement is far more than a matter of playing word games. The reflections included here raise major questions about how we think about development itself.

This book will appeal to anyone engaged in the development industry - academics, activists, practitioners and students - who is interested in how language shapes thinking, policy, and practice.

Andrea Cornwall is Professor of Anthropology and Development in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

Deborah Eade was Editor-in-Chief of Development in Practice from 1991 to 2010, prior to which she worked for 10 years in Latin America. She is now an independent writer on development and humanitarian issues, based near Geneva.

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About the author (2010)

Andrea Cornwall is Professor of Anthropology and Development in the School of Global Studies at the University of Sussex.

Deborah Eade was Editor-in-Chief of Development in Practice from 1991 to 2010, prior to which she worked for 10 years in Latin America. She is now an independent writer on development and humanitarian issues, based near Geneva.

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