Everyday Dialogues in Highland Peru: With and Beyond Development Interventions

University essay from Göteborgs universitet/Institutionen för globala studier

Abstract: Development is the enterprise of triggering economic, social and political improvements through policy design and planned interventions and ameliorating negative effects of change. Feminist and anthropological studies of development encounters tend to concentrate on power relations at the same time as they leave only limited room to agency. This ethnographic study examines the relationship between development intervention rationales and the everyday dialogues of the intended beneficiaries. The study takes as its point of departure conversations with 17 women farmers who have participated in various development projects in the Quispicanchi Province in highland Peru. The research focuses on the rationales of a gender-based development intervention implemented in two phases between 2010 and 2014 by the “Centre for the Peruvian Woman Flora Tristán” (henceforth Flora). The thesis draws on anthropological and feminist studies of development to scrutinize interventions’ rationales stressing Mikhail Bakhtin’s theories of dialogism and Michel de Certeau’s theories of everyday life to investigate how ordinary people exist in the world. The study shows that Flora encases the women’s lives and identities in its construal of Third World Women disregarding that women transcend any possible status of victims of their gender, rural condition or cultural perspectives. The farmers creatively discard and use interventions in various often unplanned ways. Women’s lives are moreover not limited to the ideological and material conditions development projects establish. In all, women take an active role in the implementation and practice of development, but their dialogues also thwart any pretention of either governing their lives or reducing their identities to existing inequalities.

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