Marco Fama

Participatory development and anti-politics of international cooperation. The case of a Nicaraguan NGO

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: Participatory Development; International Cooperation; Governmentality; Neoliberalism; Nicaragua.

The article aims to provide a theoretical and empirical contribution to the debate surrounding «participatory development approaches», presenting the results of qualitative research carried out in 20 Nicaraguan rural communities. The author brings to light some controversial and contradictory outcomes of participatory approaches, reading them as emblematic symptoms of a new «governmental» approach to development that has emerged in reaction to the crisis of classical top-down industrial expansion projects. Analysis of the case presented here shows that participatory development can paradoxically play a depoliticizing role, reproducing a discursive order that, by insisting on individual responsibility and entrepreneurship instead of on wider structural processes, incites local actors to adhere more enthusiastically to goals, in most cases established externally according to global market rules. At the same time, however, participatory approaches mobilize a set of material and relational resources which also nourish concrete experiences of political participation and conflict.

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