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Modernity Lacks Care: Community-based Development and the Moral Economy of Households in Eastern Nagaland

Debojyoti Das

Journal of South Asian Development, 2020, vol. 15, issue 1, 97-116

Abstract: The article examines two aspects of development presented through an ethnographic study of the project ‘Nagaland Empowerment of People through Economic Development’. First is the discursive construction of project beneficiaries as poor, underdeveloped and backward in modernist literature. Second, the article captures inter-household negotiations around developmental resources in the context of microcredit. Drawing on participant observations, oral histories and household interviews, I explore the micro-politics of everyday life to reflect on the contesting representations of ‘beneficiary community’ and ‘project experts’. In addition, I analyse the struggle within the community for resources made available by the project. This illuminates the actors, networks and institutions involved in community development programmes and problematizes ideal conceptualization of communities as a site for collective participation. The article highlights practices of objectification and the creation of a populist discourse on participation that overlooks multiple layers of patronage, public and self-interest exercised by project beneficiaries in community development programmes. Additionally, the article investigates how the lack of ‘care’ in modernist participatory agricultural development discourse undermines the community’s aspirations for development and establishes a rupture between policy and practice.

Keywords: Community; development; micro-politics; participation; modernity; care (search for similar items in EconPapers)
Date: 2020
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DOI: 10.1177/0973174120920392

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