Developing Communities: The Global Appeal of Local Development

Sunday, January 5, 2014: 9:10 AM
Tyler Room (Marriott Wardman Park)
Perrin Selcer, University of Michigan
In contrast to the huge dams, steel plants, and scientifically designed varieties of wheat that became icons of post-World War Two high modernist development schemes, community development projects promised to organize progress from the bottom up. It also elevated social and political goals over economic ones. The tensions between empowerment and manipulation, grand ambition and cheap execution, and local versus national, imperial, and international values made community development seductive to both reform-minded experts and mid-20th century developmentalist states. This paper examines community development projects in the United Nations System. It traces theory and practice to colonial and New Deal projects in order to analyze global flows of social knowledge and explore congruities between imperialism and internationalism. It focuses particularly on the ways community development was intended to organize distinct local communities in order to integrate them into larger polities.
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