Closely related to theories of dependency are those presenting the globe as a single interrelated system in which each country is understood in terms of its relationship to the whole. Worsely’s notion of ‘one world’ (1984) are central to these ideas. It is from this context that notions of ‘Third World’ and ‘First World’ have developed; these terms explicitly recognise the way in which the world is divided into different and yet interdependent parts. The Third World, it suggests – is not natural, but created through economic and political processes.
Furthermore, structures of dependency are repeated internally. Just as on the international level the centre exploits the periphery, within peripheral regions metropolitan areas attract the bulk of scarce local resources and services, which are then occupied by the elite, who have links with the centre and like international relations between the centre and periphery, they also exploit surrounding rural areas, through unequal exchange, for example in terms of trade between rural farmers and urban markets.Capital accumulation in the periphery is therefore unlikely to occur, both because of processes which suck it into the metropolitan centre, and because of wider international processes which take it outside the country. Therefore, dependency theory understands underdevelopment as embedded within particular political structures.
In this view, the improvement policies advocated by modernisation theory can never work, for they do not tackle the root causes of the problem.Rather than development projects which ease the short-term miseries of underdevelopment, dependency theory suggests that the only solution possible, is radical, structural change. Evidenced in the radical internal restructuring of countries which had embraced socialism which China and Cuba are key examples, and further by the 1990s with the breakdown of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
However dependency theory has been criticised for failing to understand the nature of imperialism and capitalist development in the previously colonised South. Rather than remaining stagnant and perpetually underdeveloped, the ex-colonies are moving forward in a way largely in keeping with Marx’s original ideas about progressive, through the destructive and contradictory force of capitalism within his theory of historical materialism (Warren, 1980).One of the main problems with dependency theory is that it tends to treat peripheral states and populations as passive, being blind to everything but their exploitation. Gardner and Lewis argue, that although it is important to analyse the structures which perpetuate underdevelopment, there is a need to recognise the ways in which individuals and societies strategize to maximise opportunities and how they resist structures which subordinate them and how in some cases they successfully embrace capitalist development.Furthermore, rather than offering solutions to societies in the capitalist, dependency theory is in danger of creating despondency in its insistence that without radical structural change, underdevelopment is unavoidable.
15 However, Ferguson is not as kind to modernisation theories or to development as a disciple. He argues that modernisation theories are a myth which he illustrates through the story of urban Africa – narrated in terms of linear progressives and optimistic teleologies and narratives of modernity.Therefore the myth of modernization is nto just an academic myth but also a development myth and thus, anthropologists and developmentalists who construct theoretical understandings of contemporary Africa face a different set of challengees which involve looking at the prolonged perception of decline and the intellectual and methodological traditions of interpreting African urbanity within certain teleogical metanarratives on modernisation, which he argues need to be revised in the face on non- and counter-linearities of the present.Norman Long calls for ‘actor-oriented’ research (1992)16 which has consistently found that, far from being ‘irrational’, people in poor countries are open to change if they perceive it to be in their interest.
They often know far better than development planners how to strategise to get the best from difficult circumstances, yet modernisation strategies rarely, if ever, pay attention to local knowledge. Indeed, local culture is generally either ignored by planners or treated as a constraint. Hobart (1993)17 argues that this is a grave failing and has shown that viewing the local as ignorant, creates a global ignorance of the local.Where, systematic modes of ‘ignorance’ arise out of a specialisation and thus fragmentation of development expertise, and from the inappropriateness of rationalistic assumptions in assessing the success or otherwise of economies and social systems.
He argues, that there is a need to go beyond the nature of ‘expert’ knowledge and the power of science and use ‘indigenous’ knowledge to help comprehend the ongoing processs of translation and mediation involving different actors and different knowledge domains. He believes, that anthropologists in particular can capture the dynamics of these situations and processes.Furthermore, there is a need to explore how the ideas and practices of modernity are themselves appropriated and re-embedded in locally-situated practices, thus accelerating the fragmentation and dispersal of modernity into constantly proliferating modernities.
18 This has been termed as ‘multiple modernities’ (Comaroff & Comaroff 1993:1) generate powerful counter-tendencies to what is conceived of as Western modernisation, exhibiting so called ‘distorted’ or ‘divergent’ patterns of development and re-assembling ‘tradition’.The marginalisation of women by development projects which treat households as equal and homogenous is a case in point. 19 All this has shown that expectations of modernity whether from the planner or from those on the receiving end are multidimensional and contested. The polarity between modernisation and modernity invovles its own ambiguities between the top-down coercive change and the power of the agent to make their own choices.Therefore the element of change whether planned or not is not what sets anthroplogy and development apart, as has been shown, historically and theoretically they have both been involved in its application whether that be overtly or covertly. Although anthropology as a discipline has been more critical of itself, which is what development lacks, literature on the two fields has illuminated that the two fields are reconcilable because they are in fact inextricable in the field. As much of what anthropology studies are also involved in, on some level of ‘development’ projects.
Thus despite, Ferguson’s criticisms towards development as anthropology’s ‘evil twin’20, Gardner and Lewis argue both anthroplogy and development contain possibilites of positive-engagement and change. They argue that although this is problematic for anthropology it should not retreat as discourses are not static and can be changed whether they are working within or outside the field and thus, that anthropology should contribute positive forms of development thought, practice and criticism.In this way, the very idea of development should be changed to mean more than processes of social and economic change precipitated by economic growth or specific policies planned by states or dominant groups, but post-development should look at the social and political relations of poverty, and aim to work together to alleviate them on a macro and micro level, top-down and bottom-up level, which both development and anthropology can help illuminate to each other.
BibliographyArce, A and N. Long 2000 “Reconfiguring modernity and development from an anthropological perspective” in Arce, A and N. Long (eds) Anthropology, Development and Modernities: exploring discourses, counter-tendencies and vioulence, London, Routledge. Cooper, F. and R. Packard 1997 ‘Introduction’ to F.
Cooper and R. Packard (eds) International Development and the Social Sciences: essays on the history and politics of knowledge, Berkeley, University of California Press. Ferguson, James 1999 Expectations of Modernity, Berkeley, University of California Press.