The liminal space between life and death

The idea for this post stems from Akshay Khanna’s lecture on The Body. He mentions India’s Daughter (a documentary that I watched last year) and the political opportunity created by the liminal space between life and death.

To understand this liminal space, it is perhaps easiest to begin with an example.

My mum was recently very ill. She was taken into hospital by ambulance and subsequently stayed there for two weeks. There was a period of around 6 days (in the middle of this time) when her condition worsened and the doctors didn’t know why.

I think this period can be linked to liminality – if not between life and death (as she is getting better again), then between regular health and life-changing illness.

I had been planning to go back to London to continue working and studying. But when her condition worsened, it became as if nothing else mattered. This was someone who was unbelievably important to me and everything else could wait. That gut-feeling, that I needed to be there for her and that I couldn’t possibly be anywhere else, corresponds to a liminal space. Leaving one condition (health) but not yet reaching another (death, or a return to health). You are waiting for some change, for the doctors to do something, or some miracle to occur. Thankfully, in this case, my mum will be able to fully-recover.

I expect that anyone who has experienced a serious illness themselves, or that of a family member or close friend, will be able to identify with this emotion. This feeling that you have to react, to be there. That nothing else matters.

I have now gone back to my normal life, working and studying. And yet, I feel changed. I’m more aware of the fragility of life and have been calling home much more often than before.

Now, to India’s Daughter…

* * * *

This is the title of a BBC documentary that focusses on the gang rape of Jyoti Singh in Delhi, India. On 16th December 2012, the 23-year-old medical student (and her male friend) boarded an off-duty charter bus that claimed to be going towards her home. Once on the main road, a group of six men (five that had pretended to be passengers, plus the driver) beat both of them. They then dragged Jyoti Singh to the back of the bus and proceeded to brutally rape her, including forced penetration with a blunt iron rod. After one of the men pulled a rope-like object (her intestines) from her body, they threw both her and her male friend from the bus, leaving them on the side of the highway for dead.

Jyoti Singh remained in hospital in a critical condition, first in India and then transferred to Singapore, for a period of thirteen days. She passed away on 29th December 2012.

photo

Photo credit: http://indiasdaughter.com/home/

Watch the trailer here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JoGtGv2KS48

 

The circumstances under which Jyoti Singh occupied the liminal space between life and death were much more severe than my mum’s condition. But the ensuing gut-reaction was perhaps similar… And moreover, this reaction echoed across India and more widely, inspiring unruly actions globally.

There were mass-protests during these 13 liminal days (and for a period afterwards). Thousands of people came into the streets in Delhi and other cities across India, fighting for justice and for the perpetrators to be appropriately punished – in this case, hanged. The (mainly peaceful) demonstrators were met by police using batons and tear-gas, aiming to disperse their growing numbers at any cost. Several rail stations and streets were closed in Delhi on 22nd December in an attempt by the state to prohibit protesters from gathering.

People across India identified with Jyoti Singh and her parents. Sexual assault is (sadly) relatively common, in India and globally. But the existence of a liminal space between life and death perceptibly allowed for a stronger current of emotion and discontent to develop. This was not a one-off incident, a flash news story that disappeared in noise – instead, it continued to drag on for thirteen long days. And with each of these days, protesters grew more determined for justice to be served.

Just speculating, but… If Jyoti Singh had died the same night as the rape occurred, perhaps she would have become just another number. Perhaps she would not have sparked such a strong emotion. It was the liminality, the not-knowing, that enabled the gut-reaction (and ensuing protests) to occur and to reverberate globally.

Similar to the period when my mum was ill and nothing else mattered apart from her health, citizens across India were perhaps unable to do anything else. They had to come into the streets to protest. Her situation was critical and they needed to do something. Nothing else mattered.

* * * *

Liminality is not necessarily a (relatively) light-hearted account of the rites of passage between child and adult (as described in the first class reading by Julio Alves, 1993). It can also be much darker, linked to the liminal period between life and death. Either way, it fosters opportunity (for unruliness, for clarity, for a gut-reaction), because those who experience this liminal space are guided by a surge of emotion that cannot be displaced or forgotten.

When in the liminal period, regular norms and ways of life are discarded. The pure ability to live (or the pure desire for justice) surpasses everything else in importance.

This links to Agamben’s (1998) conception of the bare life: where a body is stripped of all political meaning, removed from the political life of a citizen (bios) and reduced to an object, to the natural life (zoe). Power can be exerted over this body, it can be controlled, beaten, raped, even die, without any implications. Here, the embedded patriarchal nature of the state represents the sovereign, controlling the distinction between zoe and bios. Males and females across India are the product of this sovereignty.

Jyoti Singh exposed the reality of her life, of an Indian woman’s life, as subject to the bare life. Controlled by men, who dictate when a woman can be outside, who she can be with and how she can travel. If this is outside of their expectations, as Jyoti Singh was that December evening, then the body may be treated however they wish.

… But this time, the Indian public would not accept that reduction. Would not accept the lack of consequences.

This exposure of the bare life resonated with women everywhere, whose lives had been over-determined by the male-dominated state and who had been unable to speak, move or even think without male permission. Many of the rapists’ and their lawyer’s statements in the documentary align to this perspective. Women are described as “flowers” and “diamonds” – if men put “their diamond” on the street, then “certainly the dog will take it”. Women should not “roam around” in public without a family member. There is “no place” for women in this culture.

So when Jyoti Singh became a public example of the Indian woman’s bare life, and remained in the public eye for almost two weeks, this presented the seeds for unruliness to erupt. Her liminality brought visibility to the bare life.

* * * *

Perhaps this visibility has changed the people of India forever. The aftermath of the protests has received a mix of praise and criticism: resultant laws have been passed, but there is uncertainty over the extent to which these laws are implemented. But the gut-reaction that people felt during that 13-day period, and the experience of protesting or witnessing mass protests in the streets, might have changed the perception of many people across India. The frame of reference and possibility has been widened. If people have “woken up”, they cannot now be silenced.

Here, the return from the bare life to the political life offers opportunities for real and lasting change. The reduction of Jyoti Singh to the bare life, and the extended period of liminality, were perhaps the necessary precursors to increase the life chances of women across India.

It is this altered perception, this power within, that is arguably most important factor for empowerment and for positive change more broadly. When I first started writing this blog, I was critical of the protests, wondering if anything had actually changed since. But I have since realised that the switch in mentality is the central point here, rather than a list of successful outcomes (much like in prefiguration). The change that those protesters went through, that perhaps the whole nation went through, will likely have large (and virtually immeasurable) effects. This is similar to the internal change in perception that I experienced during my mum’s illness.

* * * *

Whilst with my mum in hospital, I was reminded of the lyrics of an Antony and the Johnsons song:

Oh I’m scared of the middle place

Between light and nowhere

I don’t want to be the one

Left in there, left in there

I think it is this middle place, this liminal space, which is most frightening for those involved. But it is also embedded with the most opportunity for real change, for sparking unruliness.

 

* * * *

One caveat – I am a British woman and was not present at the 2012 Delhi protests. I can only speculate as to how it felt in that situation and what drove so many people to take to the streets. I was inspired by how powerful India’s Daughter was and by my recent experience with my own family; the concepts studied in class helped me to engage with these situations and to analyse them in a new light.

 

Agamben, G. (1998) ‘Part two: Homo Sacer’, in Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, pp.71-115.

Alves, J. (1993). ‘Transgressions and transformations: initiation rites among urban Portuguese boys’, American Anthropologist, 95(4), pp. 894-928.

The ugly sibling of IDS’ Unruly Politics course

 

We often speak of “good” unruly political acts, but what of “bad” unruliness? Unruly politics that harms others, that isn’t unifying, that doesn’t share IDS’ understanding of truth and justice. This blogpost is about one such example – the Islamic State (IS).

I am in no way condoning IS. The vast majority of its actions are inescapably evil (of course, this is based on my perception of morality). It is important to clarify my positionality upfront, particularly when writing on such a sensitive topic.

Rather, there are two reasons why I am interested in IS.

One: Idolising unruliness. There are multiple sides to any concept. We – as students of unruly politics – have to acknowledge that IS exists and that it represents a much darker kind of unruliness than our usual discussions.

Two: Learning lessons. Our ability to study unruliness is limited by the examples we use (Tahrir Square and Occupy were favourites in the class readings). The Islamic State is operating forcefully, at a large-scale and with (comparatively) extensive resources to try to bring about its desired change in governance. Analysing IS might therefore offer unique insights for other (“good”) unruly processes.

* * * *

I have already struggled, in writing these few paragraphs, on whether to refer to IS as “it” – an entity, a state, a social movement – or “they” – a group of self-defined citizens or members. Is “it” (the state) brutal or only the actions of its members?

Probably both, realistically. But the pronoun matters: allowing IS to be a coherent entity inherently prescribes organisational power to it and acknowledges that its actions may be rationally intended. In 2015, Obama famously said ‘Now let’s make two things clear:  ISIL is not “Islamic”… …And ISIL is certainly not a state.’ However, this may well have been a political tactic to mitigate against IS’ growing insurgency. I believe that we need to view IS as an organisational entity, particularly if this is how it views itself. I will therefore refer to IS as an “it” during this blog.

I actually wrote an essay in January last year, discussing whether IS could be seen as a state. At the time, I concluded that it should because: it had a relative monopoly on violence within its (contested) territories; an IS government manual included provisions for welfare, such as public health, education and even a tithe tax; everyday practices, representations and local encounters with IS often took the form of bureaucracy, propaganda and government structures, rather than solely brutality; and IS conveyed state effects (such as identification) to its global, digital citizenship.

Although space is limited here, I would be happy to provide the full essay to any interested reader (with the caveat that it is based in an earlier time period). These things change daily and I don’t want to assume that the assertions I made in 2016 hold today.

* * * *

IS is obviously unruly. Its actions go against practically all the rules of our (Western-dominated) global society. In the same vein, IS can be aligned to almost all the topics we studied in Unruly Politics. I will pick just a few highlights, specifically aiming to learn lessons for unruly movements, rather than to understand the various historic oppressions that led members to join IS.

Cyborgs (see Haraway, 1985) – IS’ actions (probably unintentionally) align to cyborg theory, creating new forms of digital citizenship and political subjectivity. Haraway writes about the blurring of lines between animal, human and machine, as well as between the physical and non-physical. She is specifically interested in the breakdown of binaries between people (men/women), whereas IS are primarily interested in erecting these dualisms (Muslim/non-Muslim).

Yet the implications of these blurring lines for governance have not been widely addressed by our Western state structures. As Madeleine Albright poetically summarises, ‘These days, people are talking to their governments using 21st century technology, while governments listen on 20th century technology and respond with 19th century policies’. By contrast, IS are able to engage with disenchanted individuals globally. More shockingly, these individuals are able to choose to live under IS as a state and to become a citizen of IS, even if geographically situated thousands of miles away. Where global governance has fallen short in the face of climate change, cyber security, financial regulations, it is simultaneously fostering new realms of political subjectivity for the Islamic State. IS seems to be engaging with this facet much more than other governance bodies today, unbundling sovereignty from territorial claims and innovatively redefining citizenship (as a state) and belonging (as a movement).

As an aside, this also ties in to the concept of hidden transcripts in a digital age – perhaps IS are able to form, or underwrite existing, hidden transcripts between oppressed Muslims globally. They use this policy to appropriate new citizens.

 

Prefiguration (see Maeckelbergh, 2011) – IS uses “unruly” processes to formulate its identity. Its goal as a Caliphate (a religious supra-state) is clear. But IS is constantly developing new methods of governance in order to fulfil this purpose. It is adapting novel approaches to move towards the world it wants to see. One can only truly measure prefiguration from within – I will just attempt a brief analysis here.

Some key characteristics of prefiguration include: a) actively valuing diversity and horizontality; b) removing the temporal distinction between means and ends; and c) ascribing success based on internal viewpoints (rather than externally defined outcomes).

a) IS is usually seen to discriminate against minority groups (such as women or LGBTQIs – the opposite of the first characteristic). But it also encourages diverse elements and factions to set up globally, join the IS banner and act independently towards the shared utopia. Only an IS member would truly be able to confirm the level of horizontality practiced – it seems unlikely to be high, although the wider ideological approach is informed by a shared (equal) religious belief.

b) Regarding the means-ends distinction, during my research last year I felt that IS was still trying to define itself and its processes, learning as it goes. IS was partially focussed on defining institutional structures, to become a more reputable state entity, and partly operating as a social movement, recruiting ideological members in new and innovative ways.

c) Finally, IS does have an overall objective (the Caliphate), but the methods to meet this are not strictly defined. Success can broadly be seen as forwarding Islamic State agendas or harming enemies (perceptibly, the West), even if not reaching a defined outcome. Diverse, small-scale terror attacks, that the West frames as “pointless”, might be an example of this.

IS are also trapped in the equivalent of no man’s land for governance institutions – part state, part social movement, part membership organisation. They are trying to define innovative new modes of governance to build their utopia. However, within this they are also trying to mirror the current world’s (archaic) institutional state structures and hierarchy (the opposite of prefiguration). At once, they seek to be the exact opposite to the Western world, whilst also desperately seeking recognition as an established entity. This privilege is only currently available to nation states.

 

The Event (see Badiou, 2012) – this is the peak of high-unruly-theory from our course at IDS. It is also arguably where IS is most clearly tied to unruliness. I will not go into notions of objective vs. subjective truth and post-modernism. Suffice it to say, Badiou asserts that there will be an Event, where individuals glimpse a moment of Truth (i.e. a shared truth of all humanity) and that they will be forever changed by this. Badiou assumes that this will be a “good” truth, analysing specifically the Arab Spring (including Syria?), where citizens understood their shared oppression by the state and united to overthrow their oppressor(s).

What is not accounted for in Badiou’s work is whether this Truth varies between groups of people. Perhaps citizens of IS share a common Truth, a common gut-feeling that something is wrong, against a shared oppressor – but the perceived (and actual?) oppressor is the West. The literal militia of IS may also be political Militants of Truth, taking shared action (including contraction, localisation and intensification) to fight for this Truth to be realised. My reading is that this neatly fits within Badiou’s theory, although with contradictory outcomes to his desired utopia. Where it may not fit Badiou’s theory is that IS oppresses others in the name of this truth… but surely there are sacrifices for the “greater good” in every protest?

Most unruly concepts are tied to the author’s positionality. As students, we chose to take the Unruly Politics course, so are probably inherently biased to agree with the ideology presented in the class readings. One bias might be the notion of celebrating difference whilst working together for a shared humanity; this contrasts to IS’ exclusionary approach. However, the underlying principles within the concepts studied can still be seen in the Islamic State. This is particularly true if you unbundle the concepts from the examples woven into the readings.

* * * *

So, what does IS offer for unruly politics?

IS is clearly unruly. Aside from being the embarrassing, hidden sibling, that we don’t invite to our IDS class meetings, IS is also unmistakably aligned to unruliness.

Students of Unruly Politics believe that unruliness can also be used as an avenue for bringing about positive change and empowerment, exposing and exploiting the (ever-growing) cracks in neoliberal capitalism. IS offers a couple of lessons in this respect.

Firstly, their innovative approach to governance, statehood and citizenship meets many of our unruly criteria. IS is testing these concepts at a massive scale and with a very persuasive agenda (for some) – we can therefore look to the successes of IS and learn from these. In particular, its ability to redefine and relocate citizenship, so that it is not bound to a territory, has important implications for other global governance structures.

Could climate change create a global citizenship, with all citizens living under shared (sustainable) ideals and defining themselves primarily as militants of truth for environmental justice (over and above their self-definition as national citizens)?

Secondly, IS represents the blurred line (or is it a violent clash?) that much unruliness struggles with. IS is trying to be unruly, in its well-publicised terrorism but also in its attempts to build a new, utopian world. Simultaneously, IS is glued to the bounded imaginary of nation states that has dominated global politics in recent years. It wants to build a new governance model that opposes Western traditions, but it equally craves recognition (from citizens and other states). This recognition can only truly be claimed if IS becomes a nation state equivalent. Do these same internal conflicts arise in all social movements and unruly actions?

* * * *

One final footnote – a gang in Trinidad and Tobago have called themselves Unruly ISIS. I have not assessed how far they align to our unruly conceptualisations. However, I can’t imagine that they discussed the left-y feminist theories of Donna Haraway before planning their political approach…

 

 

Maeckelbergh, M. (2011) ‘Doing is believing: prefiguration as strategic practice in the alterglobalization movement’, Social Movement Studies, 10(1), pp.1‒20.

Haraway, D. (1985), ‘A cyborg manifesto: science, technology and socialist- feminism in the late Twentieth Century’ in Haraway, D. (1991) Simians, Cyborgs and Women: the reinvention of nature. New York: Routledge, pp. 149-181. Available at http://faculty.georgetown.edu/irvinem/theory/Haraway-CyborgManifesto.html

Badiou, A. (2012) The rebirth of history: times of riots and uprisings. London: Verso.

Post-development – the hidden transcript of the development industry?

“Like a towering lighthouse guiding sailors towards the coast, ‘development’ stood as the idea which oriented emerging nations in their journey through post-war history… …Four decades later, governments and citizens alike still have their eyes fixed on this light flashing just as far away as ever…

…Today, the lighthouse shows cracks and is starting to crumble. The idea of development stands like a ruin in the intellectual landscape. Delusion and disappointment, failures and crimes, have been the steady companions of development and they tell a common story: it did not work…

 …Nevertheless, the ruin stands there and still dominates the scenery like a landmark. Though doubts are mounting and uneasiness is widely felt, development talk still pervades not only official declarations but even the language of grassroots movements.”

(Sachs, 2010: xv)

This quote is taken from the first page of the first reading I was assigned when studying development. It is also one of the most resounding passages I have ever read – Sachs’ elegant portrayal of the ruin of development echoed my own disgust at the fetishisation of Western consumerism and industrialisation. Later, Sachs explains how the US may be winning the race towards development, but ultimately this can only be a race towards an abyss due to environmental limits and perpetual mass inequality.

We all live in a shared illusion, or delusion, that the West is best; and yet, subconsciously, we know that the system isn’t working. This seemed so inherently true to me. Concurrent to my self-identification with this ideology – the post-development theorists – I was also working in a development consultancy, actively perpetuating these hypocrisies. In fact, two years on, I still work there today…

* * * *

Post-development thought critiques the mainstream development industry. Proponents argue that the project of “development” has only ever served to perpetuate the dominant US hegemony. In 1949, Truman birthed underdevelopment, essentially declaring two-thirds of the world as inadequate, compared to the ‘developed’ utopia: the West. Modernisation – the 1950s lovechild of post-war optimism and post-colonial essentialism – has been widely criticized. And yet, almost seventy years later, we still seem to intrinsically pair development with industrialisation. Development with mass consumption. Development with Westernisation.

Almost everyone who works in the development industry recognizes this critique. Discussion often centres around implicit post-development topics in IDS classes. At work (the development consultancy), we make satirical jokes about how cynical we have become. Lunchtime conversation, when not on Brexit, flows around debates of limited project effectiveness, whether positive change is possible and who defines ‘positive’ at all? Chatting with friends who work in DFID and in NGOs suggests that similar concerns are voiced between colleagues there.

And yet, we all continue to work in the development industry. Students graduate from IDS and go to work for development organisations worldwide – be that donor, consultancy or civil society. We bid for and implement development projects at work, even if we doubt that they will truly affect change. And DFID, amongst other donors, designs and tenders for these projects.

And we all use the development “buzzwords” of the day. A couple of years ago, these were ‘cross-cutting’, ‘resilience’, ‘gender-mainstreaming’. Now, with the changing whims of DFID, we advocate for adaptive development, for flexibility, dynamism and learning. All the while, we sign contracts for new project wins that are based on fixed targets and strict budgets, rendering the possibility of flexibility or adaptiveness practically obsolete.

This is the public transcript of development. It’s the phrases we use in meetings with donors, in our proposals, in discussions with beneficiaries… it has even seeped into my IDS essays. Someone created the development industry years ago (yes, we can probably blame the US for this, those big industrialising baddies), but we still perpetuate it, acting and living the same performances every day. Who’s to blame this time? China? The Russians? Maybe it’s been the fault of ‘Africa’ all along…

* * * *

Scott depicts hidden transcripts as situated within separate (binary) groups, taking place offstage and ‘beyond direct observation by powerholders’ (Scott, 1990: 4).

Me and my co-workers are one such group, and our hidden transcript ranges from deep discussions about the purpose of development over lunch, through to the cynical jokes we make when writing proposals and managing projects. Sometimes it seeps into the public realm, perhaps through a not-so-sarcastic joke at a pre-bid meeting.

Then there is the hidden transcript of IDS. We passionately discuss the broad issues with development (sometimes) and critique industrialisation (sometimes), critique the idea of the West as developed (sometimes – or all the time, if in an Unruly Politics class). And yet we apply for jobs in the industry. We put on our best job-winning smile, bathe ourselves in hypocrisy, then talk authoritatively in interviews about how the cross-cutting, adaptive, flexible knowledge we have gained will be just perfect for this job role.

The hidden transcript of the development industry is more nuanced (an unruly buzzword this time!) than Scott’s conception. Yes, we make these jokes privately, behind closed doors and within our trusted group of colleagues. But the same jokes are made behind every closed door in development! Everyone who works in the industry shares this hidden transcript, we all know that everyone else knows it, and yet nobody is speaking out.

So… Why is there no rupture? Why is the irony of inauthenticity not exploding out of us?

* * * *

Perhaps one reason is that the conditions of our domination are more elusive. If we are all part of a shared hidden transcript, although unspoken, who are we subordinate too?

In 1990, Ferguson wrote The Anti-Politics Machine – an extensive critique of the development industry and its self-perpetuation. The development discourse depoliticises development interventions (my company implements government reforms, but we don’t question which political party or whose bureaucracy it is that we are strengthening). Within this vast machine, we are all merely cogs that amalgamate to sustain the overarching super-structure. If my company refused to buy into the public transcript, refused to perpetuate the performance, we would be unlikely to change the system. Instead, we would probably become obsolete ourselves.

In the face of such a resounding dominance, one wonders how to speak truth to power? When the dominant transcript is part of a structural, faceless power, how can one rebel?

* * * *

Scott’s depiction of transcripts relates to unruliness because of the opportunity presented when a hidden transcript breaks onto the public realm. This rupture has the potential to disrupt the norm, to expose power dynamics, as the subordinates’ truth becomes well-known and the public performance is paused.

One such rupture might have occurred in December last year.

Unlike Scott’s illustration, this disruption was not caused by one subordinate’s hidden transcript bursting into the public arena. Instead, I am referring to the recent media frenzy surrounding IDC’s inquiry into DFID’s Use of Contractors.

The aid-bashing party was sparked by allegations that ASI, a London-based development consultancy, had submitted false evidence to parliament and had illegally acquired DFID Strategy documents. First featured in the Daily Mail (of course), similar criticisms of the development industry later appeared as a front-page exposé in the Times. ASI, who are undoubtedly covered in dirt, were deservedly dragged through the news and have since “re-structured” to a “social enterprise” (the newest development industry buzzword?). Five months later, the London-branch of the anti-politics machine is slowly getting back to business as usual.

Screen Shot 2017-05-14 at 15.04.00

I contend that these news stories represented a rupture in the public transcript. For a few weeks, widespread critiques of development were proclaimed from all sides. The structure and resilience of the system itself was called into question. DFID, as an integral cog of the machine, could not ignore or suppress this; none of us (in the industry) could.

Gradually, DFID’s development talk (which influences the public transcript of the development industry) has been transforming. Perhaps “adaptive”, ‘flexible” and “dynamic” buzzwords are just the latest fashion, but they could also represent a genuine attempt at reform. The recent rupture will only have intensified this inward-looking reflection, as DFID reviews its processes and the effectiveness of its approach.

Of course, the cynic in me looks at Priti’s historical agendas and structures like the Prosperity Fund (appropriating the ring-fenced aid budget to effectively boost UK exports). But, just maybe, the recent uproar will allow development workers a new freedom to speak plainly at inter-organisation meetings. Perhaps we can escape the web of pretence that we have been hiding in; perhaps we can truly be unruly and not remain bound by the perpetual discursive norms. Maybe project proposals will start to become more frank, more honest, will start to directly contest assumptions of success. It seems that there is reason for hope, at least.

* * * *

So, when the TORs for yet another private sector development project in Lesotho appear on my desk, donning the same essentialism that Ferguson disproved in 1990, will I throw them away in disgust and walk out of the office? No… I will mimic the donor’s essentialist language, I will talk authoritatively of the rural subsistence-farmers that have never accessed the market, I will cross my fingers in hope that we win the project (I’ve always wanted a holiday in Southern Africa), and so the pretence continues…

As a final caveat, I need to point out that this is not an outward-facing critique of my colleagues at IDS, who I truly believe will go on to lead fantastic lives and to really work for the common good. Rather, it is an introspective critique, looking internally, at the work I do and the life I lead. Sachs’ quote at the start of this post was honestly one of the most enlightening passages I have ever read, I think of it frequently, and yet I continue to work each week in my development consultancy, supporting the development machine.

* * * *

Photo credits:

1) Ian Birrell (2016) ‘Exposed, the foreign aid giant which conned MPs with fake glowing testimonials about overseas work to snaffle £329million of taxpayers’ cash’. 03 December. Daily Mail. Available: here.

2) Alex Mostrous (2016) ‘Consultants take billions from foreign aid budget’.08 December. The Times. Available: here.

 

Sachs, W. (2010). The Development Dictionary: A Guide to Knowledge as Power (2nd edition). London: Zed Books.

Scott, J. C. (1990) Domination and the arts of resistance: hidden transcripts. London: Yale University Press.

Ferguson, J. (1990). The Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho. Minneapolis: University Of Minnesota Press.