History Article Summary Assignment

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Jane Smith
Readings in Latin American History
Article Review, Feb. 12, 2001

The voices calling for an end to development
are becoming more numerous and audible.
Arturo Escobar (1991: 679)

Development as Discourse: Is Development Destroying the Third World?

Escobar, Arturo. 1991 "Anthropology and the Development Encounter: The Making and Marketing of Development Anthropology." American Ethnologist 18 (4): 658-682.

    Few modern ideas in economics or international studies have engendered as much controversy as that of "development." There are myriad ways in which development has been conceived -- from early modernization theory to basic needs approaches to contemporary neoliberalism. Arturo Escobar, an anthropologist at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, is not satisfied merely to take potshots at one or another of these formulations nor to offer an alternative model; rather it is the very concept -- or in his term, "discourse" -- of development that needs to be attacked. Drawing his inspiration from French philosopher Michael Foucault, Escobar argues that development policies are mechanisms for spreading Western hegemony. "Development has relied exclusively on one knowledge system, namely, the modern Western one. The dominance of this knowledge system has dictated the marginalization and disqualification of non-Western knowledge systems" (p. 673).
    Typically, development has been conceived as a state-level phenomena, based on policies instituted at the level of the state. However, development anthropology, which is often equated with applied anthropology, usually focuses on the community level. According to Escobar, whatever anthropologists' good intentions might be, they cannot help but impose the discourse of the West, with its capitalist and technological solutions. Even conceptionalizing the Third World in terms of "problems" and "issues" to be "solved" by external authorities imposes upon indigenous cultures

Your name, course, assignment and date go in the upper left.

Epigraph, before title, gives a quote that sums up the author's thesis. Epigraphs can be useful in other types of papers also, and sometimes can provide key words of the title.

Your title sums up your position on the article.

The full reference for the article is placed in proper format after your title.

The body of your paper should be in 12-point type and double spaced (not as here). Courier is used here but Times-Roman type is also acceptable. (My PageMill program was erasing tabs when uploaded, which is why I inserted [tab] to represent normal paragraph indentation.)

Note that the first paragraph "sets the scene"--in this case, places the article in the context of controversies over development theory.

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