Editorial Reviews. Review. “Winner of the Best Book Prize of the NECLA” ” Arturo Escobar has given us an important and exciting take on issues of Third. Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third. World, (). Available at Carleton University Library. Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Post- development theory and the question of alternatives: a view from Africa.

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Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World by Arturo Escobar

Return to Book Page. Preview — Encountering Development by Arturo Escobar. How did the postwar discourse on development actually create the so-called Third World? And what will happen when development ideology collapses?

To answer these questions, Arturo Escobar shows how development policies became mechanisms of control that were just as pervasive and effective encountwring their colonial counterparts. The development apparatus generated categories powerful enough to shape the thinking even of its occasional critics while poverty and hunger became widespread.

Here Escobar deploys these new techniques in a provocative analysis of development discourse and practice in general, concluding with a discussion of alternative visions for a postdevelopment era. Escobar emphasizes the role of economists in development discourse–his case study of Colombia demonstrates that the economization of food resulted in ambitious plans, and more hunger. To depict the production of knowledge and power in other development fields, the author shows how peasants, women, and nature became objects of knowledge and targets of power under the “gaze of experts.

Paperbackpages. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. To ask other readers questions about Encountering Developmentplease raturo up. Be the first to ask a question about Encountering Development.

Lists with This Book. Sep 12, Rachel rated it liked it Shelves: Dear Development World, Here are all the things I hate: Jan 23, Kirk rated it liked it. I really enjoyed his arguments, but I found his writing incredibly difficult. Style aside, he shows just how pervasive the power relationships in development work really are.

It calls the whole project into question. Sadly, upon explaining the problem, he doesn’t have much in the way of a solution. That may make sense, though: Mar 27, Daniel Clausen rated it really liked it Shelves: His research calls arturl question development as encounrering institution, as an ordering system, and as a tool of capitalism and western hegemony.

Instead of an objective science, Escobar–building on the traditions of Edward Said, Michel Foucault, and James Ferguson–argues that instead we should think of development as a powerful discourse of power and control. In this way, Escobar is also artturo on the tradition of questioning the strategic alliances of knowledge and power.

In the Saidian tradition also Foucaultthe Third World is a site of developmenf for power of dfvelopment, a esfobar in which to work, and a place where the other is reproduced in order to reaffirm hegemonic identity in this case, Western dominance and the ethos of the market.

Though the project might change, the essential nature of the solution remains the same. The expertise remains the same, and the solutions remain divorced from the local nature of the problem. As Ddvelopment and Fernando write on frequent criticisms of Escobar, the discourse of development is far from the essentialist bureaucratese that Escobar depicts it as. In addition, analysis that emphasizes politics and power miss much of the problems of livelihood and production that are real and not simply constructed features of the developing encounteeing p.


This book will remain a controversial classic for everyone interested in development, both those critical of development and those hoping to become practitioners. If you are interested in my full critique of the book, you can read more here: Nov 07, Farida El-gueretly rated it really liked it Shelves: The best book out there for development thinkers. While Escobar’s postmodernist take on development remains shaky, he clearly contextualizes the power differentials that continue to pervade today’s development discourse.

Yes he does not provide much of an alternative, but his critiques of development policies are probably the most accurate I’ve read thus far. Oct 25, E rated it liked it Shelves: On the one hand I think it does a really good job of grounding artyro discourse in its historically specific context and showing why representation is important.

On the other hand, there are several issues that really bug me. First, Escobar doesn’t actually demonstrate why his interpretation of the processes at hand should be considered authoritative; he doesn’t consider any alternative explanations and presents his own as though it’s simply the Truth, which is rather ironic considering the general poststructuralist aversion to totalizing truth-claims.

Disagreement becomes not a matter of evidence, but mere difference in interpretation. This brings me to my second problem with the book, and the one that is to me most frustrating. I’m not saying that Development was an accident or contingent; there was clearly a great deal of agency exercised in both the articulation and implementation of development plans.

Nor am I saying that the lack of aruro lessens or excuses the eventual results, or even that encounterig intent wasn’t there. But I think that if you’re going to accuse people of deliberately setting out to do something terrible you have an ethical obligation to at least TRY to provide SOME kind of evidence.

Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World

The final thing that grates is that Escobar doesn’t really move beyond criticism to the articulation of any proposed alternative. At the very end of the book he makes some vague comments about cyborg culture and hybridity, in the process glossing over the fact that legacies of modernization still directly affect the “developing world” and that appeals to cyber-culture probably don’t resonate a whole lot with, I don’t know, people who can’t grow esvobar own food because agribusiness poisons their crops and steals their water.

It’s not that I necessarily think anyone who criticizes should have an alternative, but the text is symptomatic of a lot of this type of scholarship that deconstructs without making any gesture toward reconstruction a much harder task.

What is left, after everything’s been disassembled? Jan 14, Didem rated it it was ok. But instead they spend arrturo lives ranting enxountering everything and over-criticising things that they wouldn’t do differently whilst providing the world with no solution.

In my belief, if there is criticism, there should also be a solution. Solutions and criticisms should go hand in hand.

Anyone can make a point in semi-intellectual sentences with big words, basicly saying “First world countries are ethnocentric and patronising towards third world. Yes, he makes relevant points. I agree that we must develop a new way of viewing the “Third World”, as the present constructed view is inaccurate. But all this crap? This book has so many faults that perhaps it’s probably worth focusing on the positives for a moment.

Escobar highlights some serious problems with the World Bank, and the problems development has created for itself in the past. It also provides an interesting background history of development from its formation as a discipline in the 20th century that will be of use to newcomers to the subject as I am. One of the worst aspects of this book is what it fails to focus on. For instance, Escobar be This book has so many faults that perhaps it’s probably worth focusing on the positives for a moment.


For instance, Escobar begins with a criticism of the terms ‘First World’ and ‘Third World’, a condescending hierarchy that could be linked intellectually to the spectre of ‘civilisation’. Yet instead of destroying this concept theoretically once and for all, the author drops the issue only to employ those terms himself throughout the book!

And while he proves adept at condemning the actions of some development policies, these are never put in context. Are these policies cherry-picked? Are they really representative of development? Is it true though never mentioned in the book that some recipients of development aid in the past are now net exporters of aid themselves? Finally, Escobar’s dream of ‘postdevelopment’ rests heavily on a postmodernist interpretation of the world his chapter 5 and conclusion especiallyyet not once are we treated to a reflection on how valid postmodernism is!

For a person with many severe criticisms of postmodernism, I felt that this book contributed to the overwhelming tendency of postmodernist works to avoid reflection on their own contentious positions. Another problem is that after reading pages plus the preface of Escobar’s book, I am still no nearer to understanding what ‘postdevelopment’ would, in fact, entail.

The conclusion is a nightmare of ambiguity and non-committal statements. A few examples would have been welcome, but really the whole book should have set up the conclusion already -perhaps there was no saving this book with a good last chapter. On a final note, the worst aspect of this book by far was its impenetrable nature.

The chapters were poorly demarcated into specific themes, and seemed to run into one single, over-long narrative. The writing style in true postmodernist style was consistently vague and unclear.

There were a number of ‘endless’ sentences there, as well, which were so hopelessly contrived that I had to post several up on Facebook -did this book really undergo several drafts and an editor?

I find it hard to believe so. In a word, this book was ‘disappointing’. Mar 26, Ce rated it it was amazing. I started to read this one as for a seminar I had to read 2 or 3 chapters. But then I realized Escobar does something few scholars have done. Given his experience in the third world, it only made sense to me to check what he had to say about the making of US patio.

Growing and living 24 years of my life in Bolivia, Escobar presentation makes sense and helped me connect some points that I always had in my observations as a simple biologist. For first world citizens, this book might sound like fict I started to read this one as for a seminar I had to read 2 or 3 chapters. For first world citizens, this book might sound like fiction or exaggerated. I was satisfied to find there is one in English that addresses this issue.

May 06, Irina rated it liked it. Basically besides listing everything that he hates in very confusing and complicated language, halfway through his research he realizes that he can’t offer anything for a solution and decides to write chapter 6 with 4 pages conclusion after pages hate speech. Jun 13, Michelle Seizer rated it it was amazing.

Recommended read for all those interested in development and in building a world that has space for all. It will make you think out of the box and question many things we take for granted.