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Adventures in Aidland: The Anthropology of Professionals in International Development

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Volume 6

Studies in Public and Applied Anthropology

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Adventures in Aidland

The Anthropology of Professionals in International Development

Edited by David Mosse

248 pages, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-110-1 $135.00/£99.00 Hb Published (April 2011)

ISBN  978-1-78238-063-4 $27.95/£22.95 Pb Published (March 2013)

eISBN 978-0-85745-111-8 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $27.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


Laden with personal accounts and experiences of the development industry and its exclusive processes of knowledge production and circulation, Adventures in Aidlandis an invaluable contribution to the study and practice of development. The realities presented in Mosse’s collection will enrich the education of socio-cultural anthropology students, particularly those considering research on organisations that operate in the industry of global poverty. The social, economic and political shortfalls of professionalism, as they are laid out in the book, make it exceptionally relevant to anthropological  work in development, heralding new directions for its scope and impact in the design of policy to reduce global poverty.  ·  Durham Anthropology Journal

The contributions are framed by a brief, but rich introductory chapter that contextualizes the anthropology of professional expert knowledge. The volume is concluded by a wonderful (in several meanings), entertaining essay by Raymond Apthorpe.  ·  Forum for Development Studies

By denying developing countries cultural specificity, aid agencies can arrogantly perpetuate their own insularity. This is fascinating and underexplored territory for anthropologists and development theorists alike, making this an important collection.  ·  Times Literary Supplement

Themes are…consistently woven throughout the book, particularly ethnographic approaches considering mechanisms by which expert knowledge is transmitted…This book fills a gap in the consideration of expert knowledge and its application to consultancy that has not been addressed since Morris and Bastin (2004).”  ·  Anthropological Forum


Anthropological interest in new subjects of research and contemporary knowledge practices has turned ethnographic attention to a wide ranging variety of professional fields. Among these the encounter with international development has perhaps been longer and more intimate than any of the others. Anthropologists have drawn critical attention to the interfaces and social effects of development’s discursive regimes but, oddly enough, have paid scant attention to knowledge producers themselves, despite anthropologists being among them. This is the focus of this volume. It concerns the construction and transmission of knowledge about global poverty and its reduction but is equally interested in the social life of development professionals, in the capacity of ideas to mediate relationships, in networks of experts and communities of aid workers, and in the dilemmas of maintaining professional identities. Going well beyond obsolete debates about ‘pure’ and ‘applied’ anthropology, the book examines the transformations that occur as social scientific concepts and practices cross and re-cross the boundary between anthropological and policy making knowledge.

David Mosse is Professor of Social Anthropology, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. He has also worked for Oxfam in south India, as a social development adviser for DFID, and as a consultant for various international development agencies. Recent books include Cultivating Development: An ethnography of aid policy and practice (2005); The Aid Effect: Giving and Governing in International development (2005, ed. with D. Lewis); and Development Translators and Brokers (2006, ed. with D. Lewis).

Subject: Applied Anthropology Development Studies


List of Contributors
Preface and Acknowledgements

Chapter 1. Introduction: The Anthropology of Expertise and Professionals in International Development
David Mosse

Chapter 2. Calculating Compassion: Accounting for Some Categorical Practices in International Development
Maia Green

Chapter 3. Rendering Society Technical: Government Through Community and the Ethnographic Turn at the World Bank in Indonesia
Tania Murray Li

Chapter 4. Social Analysis as Corporate Product: Non-Economists/Anthropologists at Work at the World Bank in Washington DC
David Mosse

Chapter 5. The World Bank's Expertise: Observant Participation in the World Development Report 2006, Equity and Development
Desmond McNeill and Asun Lera St.Clair

Chapter 6. World Health and Nepal: Producing Internationals, Healthy Citizenship and the Cosmopolitan
Ian Harper

Chapter 7. The Sociality of International Aid and Policy Convergence
Rosalind Eyben

Chapter 8. Parochial Cosmopolitanism and the Power of Nostalgia
Dinah Rajak and Jock Stirrat

Chapter 9. Tidy Concepts, Messy Lives: Defining Tensions in the Domestic and Overseas Careers of UK Non-governmental Professionals
David Lewis

Chapter 10. Coda: Alice in Aidland, A Seriously Satirical Allegory
Raymond Apthorpe


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