‘Development’ as if We Have Never Been Modern: Fragments of a Latourian Development Studies

What might the work of Bruno Latour — and STS more broadly — offer critical development studies? Growing out of work in South Africa, I have a theoretical piece on what Latour can offer post-development studies and practice. It is being published in Development & Change. (open access version)

‘Development’ as if We Have Never Been Modern: Fragments of a Latourian Development Studies

The work of the French anthropologist-cum-philosopher Bruno Latour has influenced a wide variety of disciplines in the past three decades. Yet, Latour has had little noticeable effect within development studies, including those sub-fields where it might be reasonable to expect affinity, such as the anthropology of development. The first half of this article outlines some core aspects of Latour’s oeuvre as they relate to development and anthropology, particularly focusing on the post-development critique. Latour’s approach to constructivism and translation, his analytical commitment to ‘keeping the social flat’ and his distribution of agency offer novel ways of maintaining some of the strengths of post-development without falling prey to some of its weaknesses. The second half of the article explores the potential for a Latour-inspired theory of development that may provide fruitful avenues for scholarship and practice beyond post-development, emphasizing materialism, relationality and hybridity.

IC4D 2012: Maximizing Mobile

I have a chapter on mobile money in the most recent version of the World Bank’s flagship ICT4D publication, Information and Communication for Development 2012. The chapter serves as an overview of the sector, with special focus on the potential to use mobile money for meaningful financial inclusion, as well as some of the emerging issues such as universal access, competition & interoperability, and product innovation. You can download the chapter here, or visit the World Bank’s page for the full report with chapters on health, agriculture, entrepreneurship, governance, and broadband policy.

Abstract: Chapter 4 looks at the use of mobile money as a general platform and critical infrastructure underpinning other economic sectors. It shows the benefits and potential impact of mobile money, especially for promoting financial inclusion. It provides an overview of the key factors driving the growth of mobile money services, the barriers and obstacles hindering their deployment, and emerging issues that the industry will face over the coming years.

Update: I wrote a short post for the World Bank’s Private Sector Development blog about what’s next for mobile money.