In Communicating with Communities, Linje Manyozo offers a critique of development theory and practice, unpacking the dominant development paradigm and the power dynamics that are inherent within it. Building on the work of Escobar (1995) and Chambers (2005), Manyozo joins the call for alternative conceptualizations of development practice and teaching, positioning a pedagogy of listening as an avenue for the realization of development alongside communities. This book is structured into two parts. The first section (Chapter 1–2) offers an unpacking of the dominant paradigm of development, the ‘spectacle’ of development, attempting to unravel the systems and language inherent in these development approaches. The second part (Chapters 3–6) builds upon this critique of donor-driven development models to explore how, despite these challenges, opportunities still exist within this system for the facilitation of deliberative development. Using a highly reflexive and almost auto-ethnographic writing style, Manyozo reflects on both his academic and personal struggles with dominant development paradigms. Drawing on experiences as a researcher, practitioner and teacher in the development sector, Manyozo does not exempt himself from his own critique and challenges readers to reflect on their own practice and positioning in the world and apply a critical lens to their own practice. In order to explore these opportunities for deliberative development, it is first necessary to unmask the challenges and power dynamics inherent within dominant development processes. For Manyozo, the dominant paradigm extends to ‘…the whole regime of doing and speaking development theories taught in universities, the cultures of policy making, methodological approaches in evaluation, and the actual implementation on the ground’ (p. 8). In his unpacking of this ‘spectacle’, Manyozo interrogates the entire machinery of the development industry—practices of knowledge generation and evidence gathering, the symbolic violence inherent within a language of oppression, illusions of self-representation perpetuated through a co-opting of participatory practices, and the role of external ‘experts’ in these processes. These dominant, and often obscured, attitudes and behaviours not only guide the ‘doing’ of development but also how development is ‘spoken’ and the ways in which this language and vocabulary reinforce notions of power and control. Through this ‘spectacle’ other’s experiences of reality become mediated through the gaze of external agents and institutions, structured to fit within a model that preferences simplicity and linearity over complexity and context. However, rather than entirely dismissing the role of external ‘experts’, Manyozo illustrates the opportunities that exist for these actors to speak development alongside communities and acquire a subaltern perspective through research, education and living alongside communities. In the second part of this book, Manyozo articulates four opportunities within which to exercise deliberative development, illustrating these opportunities with reflections from his own development practice and vignettes of imagined, yet very familiar, development actors. The first of these opportunities pertains to the capturing of the subaltern voice. Manyozo explores the politics and power dynamics behind these voices and the practices that enable them to be heard in a respectful, equitable and deliberate way. He then articulates the ways in which these subaltern voices pose a challenge for processes of policy formulation. The second of these opportunities, ‘living with people’, challenges notions of development methodology and demonstrates how to ‘…speak and unspeak development with people in their own communities’ (p. 80). Through a critical analysis of communication for development approaches and education programmes, Manyozo calls for a revisiting of the role of education as a learning space within which students and emerging practitioners can learn the skills required to live and speak alongside communities. The third opportunity pertains to how ‘experts’ understand poverty and how these understandings are taught and perpetuated. Using a vignette of an imagined practitioner, a recent university graduate, Manyozo demonstrates how the best of intentions, if not shared and communicated with communities, can lead to exploitation and manipulation of development processes and narratives. These multiple perspectives converge in a discussion on the ‘pedagogy of listening’—the fourth opportunity for deliberative development. Existing discussions on ‘listening’ within development literature fail to capture ‘listening’ as a deliberate process. Listening, as part of the communication process, entails more than the reception, processing and understanding of messages. Instead, it is about embracing others and their positions and experiences. A horizontal form of listening allows marginalized groups to contest unequal distributions of power. In his conclusion, Manyozo calls for a challenge to the way the ‘spectacle’ of development is understood, practiced and reinforced. As eloquently articulated by Robin Mansell in the foreword to this book, this challenge is ‘…to find ways of creating a critical pedagogy that can be institutionalized within degree programmes and through the practices of agencies operating in the global south, but also in the global north, where a pedagogy that enables action against oppression is also needed’ (p. x). References Chambers, R. ( 2005) Ideas for Development , Earthscan, London and Sterling. Escobar, A. ( 1995) Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World , Princeton University Press, Princeton. © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Community Development Journal – Oxford University Press
Published: Jan 5, 2018
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