I would like to thank the three anonymous referees who provided thorough and constructive feedback that significantly improved the final version of this article. I would also like to thank Emma Mawdsley at the University of Cambridge for taking the time to provide valuable feedback on an earlier draft. Finally, I would like to thank Glyn Williams and Paula Meth at the University of Sheffield for including the original version of this paper in their panel at the annual RGS-IBG Conference in 2010 entitled ‘Dissemination in the Age of “Impact”: Implications for the Politics of Research in the Global South’, and for their positive feedback.
Article first published online: 21 AUG 2013
© 2013 International Institute of Social Studies
Development and Change
Volume 44, Issue 5, pages 1065–1086, September 2013
How to Cite
Narayanaswamy, L. (2013), Problematizing ‘Knowledge-for-Development’. Development and Change, 44: 1065–1086. doi: 10.1111/dech.12053
- Issue published online: 12 SEP 2013
- Article first published online: 21 AUG 2013
This article argues that measures designed to improve the availability and accessibility of information as a key strategy to facilitate development have become ends in themselves, de-linked from their potential to have an impact on Southern knowledge systems that may lead to improved development outcomes. The production and dissemination of ever-greater volumes of information in response to concerns about the uneven availability of information, particularly for individuals and intermediaries based in the global South, are unable to address the persistent problem of the fragmentation of knowledge systems that result from knowledge for development (K4D) initiatives in which information and knowledge are treated as isolated entities. The article presents the findings of a study into the K4D practices of a network of women/gender information intermediaries. It reveals that attempts to strengthen Southern knowledge systems are forestalled by efforts that merely improve the supply of information rather than engaging with knowledge processes in their entirety, thus limiting their potential to promote improved development outcomes. Proxy measures of success are used that fail to challenge the typically neoliberal underpinnings of the dominant knowledge infrastructure. The author concludes that, if knowledge-based development interventions are to be made more effective, K4D stakeholders need to find ways to engage not just with the supply but with the demand for information, as part of broader efforts to strengthen entire knowledge systems in ways that take account of concerns around hegemony.