Microfinance and Its Discontents
Women in Debt in Bangladesh
Publication Year: 2011
In a series of ethnographic cases, Karim shows how NGOs use social codes of honor and shame to shape the conduct of women and to further an agenda of capitalist expansion. These unwritten policies subordinate poor women to multiple levels of debt that often lead to increased violence at the household and community levels, thereby weakening women’s ability to resist the onslaught of market forces.
A compelling critique of the relationship between powerful NGOs and the financially strapped women beholden to them for capital, this book cautions us to be vigilant about the social realities within which women and loans circulate—realities that often have adverse effects on the lives of the very women these operations are meant to help.
Published by: University of Minnesota Press
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Title Page, Copyright Page
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I am a child of Western development discourses. Growing up, I would often respond to the question “tell me about your country” by saying that “Ban-gladesh is one of the poorest countries of the world.” Western discourses of poverty defined how I had learned to apprehend myself, the “third world” and its realities, and human possibilities. I grew up and came of ...
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CARITAS Roman Catholic Relief, Development, and Social Service ...
INTRODUCTION: Neoliberalism, Microfinance, and Women’s Empowerment
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...n e o l i b e r a l i s m r e s t s o n the idea that human interest is best served through the withdrawal of the state from welfarist policies.1 It is an eco-nomic order based on competition, efficiency, and entrepreneurship. This book is an ethnographic study of neoliberalism, microfinance nongovern-mental organizations (NGOs), and gender in Bangladesh. It examines the ef-...
1. The Structural Transformation of the NGO Sphere
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T h i s c h a p T e r r e c o u n T s how Bangladesh, labeled as a failed state, became the paradigmatic site for one of the most sophisticated NGO sec-tors in the world, and the heartland of the microfinance revolution. Here I analyze the processes that were set in place in the 1970s, 1980s, and the 1990s that aided in the creation of an independent and Western-funded ...
2. The Research Terrain
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T h i s c h a p T e r i s an overview of the research terrain that informed my ethnographic study of NGOs, microfinance, and women. Through their work in microfinance, the leading NGOs have a dual effect on social lives: they bring economic opportunities to rural people and, simultaneously, introduce them to NGO-sponsored programs. The power of these NGOs ...
3. The Everyday Mediations of Microfinance
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A s t h e N G O sector expanded in the twenty-first century, Bangladeshi NGOs have diversified into financial services and social business enterprises (SBEs) in telecommunications, Internet services, solar energy, and pack-aged foods. As discussed in chapter 1, the Grameen Bank and the leading NGOs have created a consumer base made up of millions of poor borrowers ...
4. The Social Life of Debt
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T h i s c h a p T e r a n a l y z e s the relations between microfinance and women by examining eight case studies. Taking governmentality as a for-mal structure of analysis, I examine how NGO loans with their accompa-nying norms intersect the lives of women who are also governed by rules and obligations. While debt ties multiple people together in mutually rein-...
5. NGOs, Clergy, and Contested “Democracy”
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I n t h I s c h a p t e r , I examine a conflict between Proshika and the clergy of a prominent madrassah known as Jamia Yunusia Islamia Madrassah over rural women’s right to participate in a rally. The madrassah (hereaf-ter called Yunusia) is located in Brahmanbaria, which is 150 kilometers northeast of Dhaka. Pirpur Thana is situated far from Brahmanbaria, in ...
6. Power/Knowledge in Microfinance
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I n t h I s c h a p t e r , I return to an examination of the powers that hold together the discursive forms of knowledge production. In doing so, I ex-amine the actors and institutions that participate in the making of pov-erty research. Let me begin then with the following observation: How did Bangladesh—a country of 150 million people with its long history of peas-...
CONCLUSION: From Disciplined Subjects to Political Agents?
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A s t h e m i c r o f i n A n c e industry has expanded in the twenty-first cen-tury, it has created networks among NGOs, international development or-ganizations, governments, multinational corporations, and rich investors and poor people, bringing them into closer alliances and dependencies. These developments in financial networking between northern and south-...
GLOSSARY OF BENGALI WORDS
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...1. David Harvey, A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford, UK: Oxford University 2. Marguerite Robinson, The Microfinance Revolution (Washington, D.C.: World Bank Publications, 2001), 9. She writes: “Microfinance refers to small-scale finan-cial services—primarily credit and savings—provided to people who farm or fish or herd; who operate small enterprises or microenterprises where goods are produced, ...
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L a m i a K a r i m is associate professor of cultural anthropology at the ...
Page Count: 296
Publication Year: 2011