Anthropology and the development encounter: the making and marketing of development anthropology

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Abstract

Since the end of World War II, relations between industrialized nations and Third World countries have been greatly determined and mediated by the discourses and practices of “development.” Although anthropologists in general have not prob-lematized the existence of such discourses and practices, a growing number of them have joined the applied field as “culture experts” in development activities. This article traces the rise and growth of “development anthropology” since the mid-1970s. Because of their adherence to mainstream models in both anthropology and development, the article argues, development anthropologists reinforce ethnocentric and dominating models of development. Moreover, these practitioners disturbingly recycle, in the name of cultural sensitivity and local knowledge, conventional views of modernization, social change, and the Third World. Some thoughts for redefining the role of anthropology in development are offered. [development anthropology, applied anthropology, history of anthropology, development studies, critical theory]

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