This paper is about the making of culture, its problematic relation with national and global discourses on development, but more than anything else, the shifting nature of what we call culture and the place of development in it. It offers a critique of both the modernist framework, which sees culture as development's other as well as the post-development tendency to exaggerate local cultures as the space of genuine development. Instead, it makes a case for approaching culture as a site of conformity and contestation and where development realities are produced, thus making development a temporal and discursive construct. The questions that guide this paper are whether culture exists as a fixed essence on which development works in an antagonistic relationship or development constructs culture in a complementary alliance, and whether culture is a homogeneous space of belonging or a slippery site where multiple meanings and truths scramble for legitimacy. These questions are answered by drawing from, and expanding on, existing cultural development literature, as well as by engaging with two environmental movements from India.