World cultures in transition

Culture and Development
March 1, 2002

The complex and intimate relationships between culture and development are central to this innovative and timely book that brings together development and cultural studies. Two key arguments inform the authors' critical discussion of a wide range of theoretical and substantive materials. First, the discourse of development is explored as an ethnocentric cultural ideology that has been deeply shaped by western models of progress, civilisation and modernisation. Second, the authors draw on cultural studies, feminism, post-colonialism and anthropological accounts of the diverse modernities shaped by globalisation to challenge essentialist versions of culture and trace the complex relationships between development, modernisation, tradition and culture.

The first four chapters critically survey key models and theories of development and culture and the relationships between them, and so provide a critical framework for the three final thematic chapters on the construction of national traditions; discourses of human rights; and new communication technologies, knowledge and development. Each chapter is clearly structured, usefully summarised and supported by boxes on key issues, concepts and examples. Complex theoretical arguments are worked though in effective case studies. These come mainly from the Asian Pacific region, Africa and to a lesser extent Latin America and the Caribbean, but they provide the analytic tools to explore other contexts and other issues. This makes it an ideal core textbook for undergraduates in development studies, geography, cultural studies, anthropology and others interested in questions of culture, development and globalisation.

The book does not present an argument for an easy synthesis. Instead, the authors stress the difficult questions raised by contemporary understandings of culture in key areas of development studies. By rigorously interrogating these questions, the book successfully shows how the concepts and concerns of development and cultural studies can challenge and inform each other.

Catherine Nash is lecturer in cultural geography, Royal Holloway, University of London.

Culture and Development: A Critical Introduction. First edition

Author - Susanne Schech and Jane Haggis
ISBN - 0 631 20950 6 and 20951 4
Publisher - Blackwell
Price - £50.00 and £15.99
Pages - 226

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