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Fragments of Development

Nation, Gender, and the Space of Modernity

Suzanne Bergeron

Publication Year: 2004

A bold and challenging consideration of questions of development, economic globalization, communities and subjectivity from a unique feminist perspective. A must-read book for those who wish to understand restructuring and resistance in this era of intensified globalization. ---Isabella C. Bakker, York University "Bergeron's pathbreaking analysis challenges orthodox development theories, questions current feminist economic thinking and highlights crucial new gendered challenges to globalization." ---Jane Parpart, Dalhousie University "Cutting-edge scholarship. Bergeron deftly engages the complexity of current debates while retaining clarity, improving analyses, and illuminating alternatives." ---V. S. Peterson, University of Arizona By tracing out the intersection between the imagined space of the national economy and the gendered construction of "expert" knowledge in development thought, Suzanne Bergeron provides a provocative analysis of development discourse and practice. By elaborating a framework of including/excluding economic subjects and activities in development economics, she provides a rich account of the role that economists have played in framing the contested political and cultural space of development. Bergeron's account of the construction of the national economy as an object of development policy follows its shifting meanings through modernization and growth models, dependency theory, structural adjustment, and contemporary debates about globalization and highlights how intersections of nation and economy are based on gendered and colonial scripts. The author's analysis of development debates effectively demonstrates that critics of development who ignore economists' nation stories may actually bolster the formation they are attempting to subvert. Fragments of Development is essential reading for those interested in development studies, feminist economics, international political economy, and globalization studies.

Published by: University of Michigan Press


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pp. v

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Preface and Acknowledgments

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pp. vii-xiii

The essays in this book are the product of several years of work, multiple locations for writing and research, and a number of different approaches to the study of development. Over the course of this journey I have been enriched by the advice, support, and encouragement of numerous people.

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ONE Narratives of the Nation: Modernizing the Global South in the Space of Development

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pp. 1-29

Open almost any international development report, country study, or academic paper dealing with development in the global South, and you are likely to to find nations being represented as self-contained and natural economic entities. Models of development generally take for granted that each nation under study is discrete: connected, certainly, to other countries through trade, migration, and other forms of economic and cultural exchange, but a conceptually distinct unit nonetheless.

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TWO Mapping Modernization and Growth

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pp. 30-67

In his book Seeing like a State, James Scott provides a new way of thinking about modernization in the twentieth century, especially as regards to certain attempts by governments to transform their societies. Examining such disparate cases as Soviet planning, Tanzanian villagization, managed forestry in Germany, and the urban-planning experiment of Brasília, Scott shows the similarities among these politically varied projects. These include the value they placed on making society “legible,” or utilizing social simplifications that make a society appear to be more administratively manageable, and their marginalization of local knowledges that might challenge these managerial orderings.

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THREE Coloniality, Modernity, and the Nation-State in Dependency Theory

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pp. 68-90

During the 1960s and 1970s, the Latin American dependency school produced an influential challenge to modernization and growth theory. Associated with a loosely defined group of writers such as Andre Gunder Frank (1967; 1969), Theotonio Dos Santos (1970), Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto (1979), and Celso Furtado (1970), dependency analysis offered a criticism of the Eurocentric assumptions of modernization and growth theories, especially the historicism in which the global South was viewed as lagging behind due to lingering “traditions” and insufficient contact with Western capital.

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FOUR Structural Adjustment and Its Discontents

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pp. 91-139

In 1991 Lawrence Summers, then chief economist of the World Bank, issued a now-infamous memorandum arguing that the export of toxic waste to the Third World should be encouraged by the World Bank. The basis for this policy recommendation was that the movement of toxic waste to poor countries was economically efficient. The greatest economic cost of toxic waste was identified as foregone income due to increased illness and mortality; therefore “a given amount of health-impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages.”

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FIVE Development and Globalization: Toward a Feminist (Re)Vision

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pp. 140-163

The taken-for-granted status of the national economy as a relatively self-contained object of regulation, as seen in previous chapters, was a central feature of post–World War II development economics. Through processes of discursive construction the economy was made legible within the space of the nation; an imagined community of economic agents was called forth, and notions of agency, including national sovereignty, were narrated through these imaginings; and economies were regulated through national models and practices of development.


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pp. 165-174


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pp. 175-193


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pp. 195-198

E-ISBN-13: 9780472021567
E-ISBN-10: 0472021567
Print-ISBN-13: 9780472031412
Print-ISBN-10: 0472031414

Page Count: 216
Publication Year: 2004