Friday, 28 December 2012

Critique of the Critique: Post-Development and points of criticism

This piece on post-development is taken from by Christiane Löper, a political science student at the University of Vienna. For complete version please click the above link.


2.2 Post-Development or the Postmodernisation of Development

Sven Engel calls post-development „Die Postmodernisierung der Entwicklungsthe­orie“2 (Engel 2001: 63). To put Post-Development into a wider context concerning its philosophical and academic roots, I believe it is relevant to explain what postmodernism means. This explanation will be relevant to answer the criticism formulated on post-development in chapter 3 as well as to reflect on my own encounter with post-modernity and post-development.

Postmodernism can be seen as a critique of the modern age[italics mine], based on the philosophical tradition which is based on the Enlightenment, the formation of a bourgeoisie and of a global capitalistic system.

The tradition of modern science, which is based on the believe in positivism and in objectivism says: the world consists of facts, which present the truth. As a critique of this claim of knowing and producing truth, and as a critique of the one big theory that leads to unification and continuities instead of dealing with discontinuities, contradictions and change, central to postmoderism is the respect of diversity, and the enhancement of subjective perceptions (Novy 2002: 22f).

According to Sven Engel, postmodernism can be understood a) as epistemological position and b) as a socio-cultural position. The first is a philosophical deconstruction of structuralism, known as poststructuralism (Foucault, Derrida, Deleuze): „Modern thinking is superseded by the heterogeneity and fragmentation of postmodern thinking, which emphasizes different perspectives and differentiations and which questions rationality as a means to understanding“3 (Engel 2001: 50). Concerning the academic debate, Sven Engel refers to Post-Development as the „postmodernisation of development critique“ (Engel 2001: 65).

As we can see in chapter 3, the points of criticism formulated about Post-Development theory parallel with a critique towards postmodern thought in general. To look at Post-Development theory as one part of postmodern thought helps to understand its intentions and its background.[...]