Handbook of Research on Development and Religion
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Handbook of Research on Development and Religion

Edited by Matthew Clarke

With eighty percent of the world’s population professing religious faith, religious belief is a common human characteristic. This fascinating and highly unique Handbook brings together state-of-the-art research on incorporating religion into development studies.
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Chapter 30: Partnership through translation: a donor’s engagement with religion

Jane Anderson


The place of religion in the field of development cooperation can be mapped in instrumental policy terms, largely through donor funding of faith groups and faith-based organizations as part of civil society, to do development ‘better’.1 In so doing, the need for dialogue to create understanding and opportunities, the need to deal with paradox and ambivalence, and the need for enhanced faith literacy of donor agency staff to appreciate the religious worldviews held by subjects of development have been established. 2 The paradox and ambivalence are located in the potential of ‘the religious factor’ for violence, power, exclusivity and oppression and in its potential source of energy and motivation for peace, empowerment, inclusivity, and freedom (Ter Haar, 2005; Goldewijk, 2007; Haynes, 2007). This makes donor engagement with religion a potentially risky undertaking. It also sets up a research agenda to which the DFID-funded Religion and Development Research Programme has made a significant contribution, exploring the relationships between several major world religions, development in lowincome countries and poverty reduction (Rakodi, 2007, 2011a, 2011b).3 A Knowledge Centre Religion & Development has been established in the Netherlands for the purpose of providing knowledge about the relationship between religion and development.4 In Jones and Petersen’s (2011) review of recent research on religion and development, they conclude that the research agenda needs to be broadened beyond its ‘instrumental, narrow and normative’ interests to include, for example, the effect of the development industry’s engagement with religion on religious organizations themselves.

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