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Triumph of the Expert

Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism

Joseph Morgan Hodge

Publication Year: 2007

The most striking feature of British colonialism in the twentieth century was the confidence it expressed in the use of science and expertise, especially when joined with the new bureaucratic capacities of the state, to develop natural and human resources of the empire.Triumph of the Expert is a history of British colonial doctrine and its contribution to the emergence of rural development and environmental policiesin the late colonial and postcolonial period. Joseph Morgan Hodge examines the way that development as a framework of ideas and institutional practicesemerged out of the strategic engagement between science and the state at the climax of the British Empire. Hodge looks intently at the structural constraints, bureaucratic fissures, and contradictory imperatives that beset and ultimately overwhelmed the late colonial development mission in sub-Saharan Africa, south and southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.Triumph of the Expert seeks to understand the quandaries that led up to the important transformation in British imperial thought and practice and the intellectual and administrative legacies it left behind.

Published by: Ohio University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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List of Illustrations

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pp. vii-viii

List of Tables

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pp. ix

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pp. xi-xii

The genesis of this book can be traced back to 1989, when in my last year as a history major at the University of Waterloo, Canada, I took a senior seminar called “Canada and the Third World” and decided to write my term paper on the history of the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA). I was so intrigued by the subject that I resolved to pursue...

List of Abbreviations

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pp. xiii-xiv

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Introduction: Expertise, Development, and the State at the Climax of Empire

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pp. 1-20

IT HAS BEEN MORE THAN fifty years since Harold Wilson made his memorable appeal to the conscience of mankind for a war on world poverty. Viewed through the “Cold War lens,”Wilson’s crusade can be seen as part of a new postcolonial strategy that gained international currency among Western policymakers in the 1950s and 1960s as they grappled with...

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1. Setting the Terms of the Debate: Science, the State, and the “New Imperialism”

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pp. 21-53

IN ONE OF HIS FIRST major speeches after becoming secretary of state for the colonies in 1895, Joseph Chamberlain, the one-time Radical mayor from Birmingham, announced at Walsall...

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2. Developing the “Imperial Estate”: Early Patronage and Pessimism for Colonial Scientific Research and Technical Assistance, 1895–1914

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pp. 54-89


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3. Science for Development: The Expansion of Colonial Agricultural Research and Advisory Networks, 1914–35

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pp. 90-116

FROM THE FIRST BRITISH SHOTS fired on land, which were aimed at a German wireless station in West Africa, to the Paris Peace Conference where the Allied powers laid dibs on the former colonial possessions of Germany and Turkey, the First World War was never simply a European conflict, but a global war involving a collision of empires that would have...

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4. The “Human Side” of Development: Trusteeship and the Turn to “Native” Health and Education, 1918–35

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pp. 117-143

ALFRED MILNER AND LEOPOLD AMERY may have renewed hopes within government and scientific circles for a more rational approach to colonial development in the years following the First World War, but as with Chamberlain before them, their vision of colonial progress ignited heated controversy among liberal reformers and humanitarian critics who...

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5. View from the Field: Rethinking Colonial Agricultural and Medical Knowledge between the Wars, 1920–40

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pp. 144-178

EVER SINCE THE TIME of Joseph Chamberlain, the structural problems of chronic high unemployment and a depressed and declining core of staple industries in metropolitan Britain had driven the colonial development agenda. Development was primarily thought of as a question of “opening up” the presumed natural riches of the tropics to serve the commercial...

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6. View from Above: The Consolidation of Knowledge and the Reorganization of the Colonial Office, 1935–45

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pp. 179-206

BY MOST ACCOUNTS, the years just before and during the Second World War constitute a turning point in the history of metropolitan policy toward the colonial empire. The problem of development was revised substantially from the earlier visions of Amery and his fellow “Constructive Imperialists.”Development thinking in the wake of the Depression swung...

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7. Triumph of the Expert: Development, Environment, and the “Second Colonial Occupation,” 1945–60

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pp. 207-253

AFTER NEARLY SIX YEARS of total war, Germany and Japan were finally defeated in 1945. For Britain, it was a bittersweet victory. The economic costs alone were staggering. Once the world’s banker, the country was left owing more than $40 billion to foreign creditors, mostly to the United States. In retrospect, the disengagement and liquidation of the British Empire...

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Conclusion Postcolonial Consultants, Agrarian Doctrines of Development, and the Legacies of Late Colonialism

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pp. 254-276

IT IS IN THE AFTERMATH of colonial failure in the early 1950s that the postwar “development project” is said to have been born. Reflecting back on the era from the vantage point of the mid-1990s, Colin Leys suggested that what most people understand by the term “development theory”...


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pp. 277-360


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pp. 361-394


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pp. 395-402

E-ISBN-13: 9780821442265
Print-ISBN-13: 9780821417188

Publication Year: 2007