The Everyday Lives of Policies and People
Edited by Norman Long, Jingzhong Ye and Yihuan Wang
Chapter 1: Histories of Development, Predicaments of Modernity: Thinking About Globalization from Some Critical Development Studies Perspectives
Arturo Escobar INTRODUCTION It is hard to imagine what to write about development and rural transformations that could be meaningful to Chinese colleagues and situations by drawing on experiences in those parts of the world that have been most deeply affected by western-style development. One would actually hope that the range of topics that would be meaningless to current Chinese processes were far greater, since this could give us (those instructed in western development, and critical of it) a sense of hope that China’s transformations might go in a rather different direction. For somebody so utterly ignorant about China as myself, it would be easier to write about what has not worked in other parts of the world, so that one would have a measure of hope that history might be somewhat different (as Marx put it, ‘History repeats itself, first as tragedy, second as farce’, or one might recall Satanyana’s less dialectical but equally compelling dictum: ‘Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it’). Of course, from some perspectives history is never the same, from others it always repeats itself. The bottom line is that the orientation to be given to development in this important country is something that only Chinese academics, intellectuals, policy-makers, movements and communities are in a position to decide. I write this chapter from the perspective of reporting on some alternative thinking in other parts of the world, particularly Latin America, in case they are of some relevance to the current interest...
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