Arturo Escobar: a post-development thinker to be reckoned with

Drawing on influences from Foucault to Said, the Colombian's arguments have a sophistication that often goes unrecognised.

Simon Reid-Henry in The Guardian:

MDG--Arturo-Escobar-009One response to the development impasse caused by modernisation and dependency theories was “can do” neoliberalism; another involved reflection on the very purpose of development. This took shape across “alternative” approaches including environment, gender and sustainability. All these approaches grew up alongside the neoliberal right, but most were drowned out, for a time at least, by its noisiness.

Perhaps the most distinctive new approach, however – one set on meeting the new right's noisiness with a strategic and all-encompassing silence – was the post-development thinking embodied by the work of Colombian scholar Arturo Escobar.

Escobar's ideas are best summed up in his 1995 book Encountering Development, which offered much more than an analysis of mainstream development economics or the sprawling array of development actors and institutions it spawned. It was a critique of the whole rotten edifice of western ideas that supported development, which Escobar regarded as a contradiction in terms and a sham. For Escobar, development amounted to little more than the west's convenient “discovery” of poverty in the third world for the purposes of reasserting its moral and cultural superiority in supposedly post-colonial times.

More here.