Is there space for humanistic anthropology within the development sciences used to plan economic growth and ecological modernization? This article adapts a provocative fable to ponder a “global assemblage” designed to transfer authoritative knowledge and advanced technology for “sustainability” from the American Midwest to postsocialist eastern Europe. I retell the story of Rumpelstiltskin to reflect on participation in global systems of outsourced expertise, guessing at the nature of “the helper” with the aid of the fanciful.
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