The NGO Factor in Africa: The Case of Arrested Development in Kenya by Maurice N. Amutabi


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The NGO Factor in Africa: The Case of Arrested Development in Kenya by Maurice N. Amutabi
  Book Reviews Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan,  Anthropology and Development: Understand-ing Contemporary Social Change.  London: Zed Books, 2006. 243 pp.  £ 20.99paperback.  Anthropology and Development   is a major contribution to development studies, ruralsociology and the ethnography of aid. Olivier de Sardan condenses several decadesof research into an accessible and well-referenced textbook that provides provokinginsightsintotheanthropologyofdevelopmentandtherelationbetweensocialscientistsand ‘developers’. Originally published in French in 1995, the translated, updated and expanded present edition follows, both semantically and theoretically, in the footstepsof a French social science tradition that has much to offer analytically.The author pursues an explicitly programmatic goal as he seeks to ‘reintegrate[s]development into mainstream anthropology’ (p. 1). In addition, he explores how — andunderwhichcircumstances—anthropologicalenquirycancontributetoimprovingdevelopment ventures. In doing so he adopts a particular theoretical perspective thathedesignatesasan‘entangledsociallogicapproach’(p.11).Unlikepost-structuralistslikeArturoEscobarorproponentsofparticipatorydevelopmentlikeRobertChambers,the author propagates an actor-oriented development anthropology. His theoreticalapproach is grounded in a belief in ‘the profound unity of the social sciences’ (p. 89)and a self-proclaimed ‘eclectic epistemological attitude’ (p. 103). Consequently, the bookemphasizesthemulti-rationalityofactors,themulti-focalityofpowerandtheneed tomakesenseoftheambiguitiesthatcharacterizethe‘developmentalistconfiguration’(p. 25). The author’s repeated calls for sustained empirical engagement with complexdevelopmentphenomenaareapleasantchangefromprevailinguniversalizingtheories.‘Concepts should not be expected to do the impossible’ (p. 134), he reminds us and  proposes in-depth field research instead.While the book covers a broad range of issues at the interface of development pro-fessionals, peasant communities and those who study development, three points stand out. First, the author deconstructs several of the aid industry’s long-standing myths.The book dissects the altruist and modernist ‘meta-ideologies’ (p. 70) of develop-ment, exposes aid agencies’ prevalent stereotypes about rural Africa and challengesthe problematic notion of ‘needs’. Second, carefully avoiding derision or condemna-tion, the author exposes major discrepancies inherent in development interventions.One example is ‘development language’, which is ‘supposed to address itself to de-velopees while, in reality, it concerns only developers’ (p. 178). Another example isthe role of ‘sidetracking’ (p. 145) processes by which target populations selectivelyappropriate a project, its resources and meanings. Third, Olivier de Sardan providesa number of valuable theoretical contributions. Based on a discerning literature re-view, he identifies populism as the ‘endemic social science attitude’ (p. 110) and defining trait of development experts’ and academics’ relationship with rural commu-nities.Hedistinguishesbetweenmoral,cognitive,ideologicalandmethodologicalpop-ulism and supports the latter as the most useful construct for development scholars toemploy.  Development and Change  39(2): 333–352 (2008).  C  Institute of Social Studies 2007. Published  by Blackwell Publishing, 9600 Garsington Road, Oxford OX4 2DQ, UK and 350 Main St.,Malden, MA 02148, USA  334  Book Reviews Other strong points of   Anthropology and Development   are its passages on the con-frontation between different systems of knowledge in the field. While developmentagents disseminate uniform and formalized types of technical and scientific know-ledge, rural producers rely on localized, contextualized and empirical types of popular knowledge. The book offers methodological guidance and a number of concepts for the empirical analysis of development projects. In line with his emphasis on people’sagency, the author proposes analysing how ‘heterogeneous strategic groups confronteach other’ in the different ‘arenas’ (p. 186) where development occurs.Olivier de Sardan’s observations are mostly anchored in field research carried out inWest Africa, yet apply to many situations where external institutions seek to transforma particular social milieu in the name of development. Constantly drawing attention toactors’ room for manoeuvre, he in many ways contradicts post-development scholars’determinist mantras. Highly reflexive and full of wit, he provides an unsparing view of development projects by carefully reconstructing the knowledge, rationality and sub- jectivity of those involved in the implementation process. Not all chapters exhibit thesame level of analytical density, however. The history of anthropological innovationresearch summarized in chapter 6 could have been shortened. Chapter 8 on relationsof production is slightly disconnected from the overall argument and chapter 11 on‘mediations and brokerage’ is rather repetitive. Moreover, despite the eloquent trans-lation by Antoinette Tidjani Alou, readers might find some of the terminology rather dense.Thissaid,  AnthropologyandDevelopment  isabrilliantbookthattriggersmanyques-tions and will attract a wide readership of both academics and development profes-sionals.Singlechaptersareshort,conciseandmakeidealreadingforgraduatecourses.While not everything Olivier de Sardan writes is new, it has rarely been formulated more lucidly and to the point. Reference Olivier de Sardan, J.-P. (1995)  Anthropologie et d´ eveloppement: essai en socioanthropologie duchangement social  . Paris: Karthala. Tobias Hagmann Department of Geography, University of Z¨urich, Winterthurerstrasse 190, CH-8057Z¨urich, Switzerland.E-mail: Kenneth W. Dam,  The Law–Growth Nexus: The Rule of Law and Economic Development.  Washington, DC: The Brookings Institution, 2006. viii + 323pp.  £ 22.50/$36.95 hardback. When I received Kenneth Dam’s new work   The Law–Growth Nexus , I was expectinganother treatise on the obvious connections between legal reform, market liberaliza-tion and beneficial effects on growth. So I was pleasantly surprised to encounter aninformative and fresh look at the relationship of law to economic development thatwill be of use to newcomers to the subject as well as seasoned researchers. This book could be used as a textbook for the study of law and development. The main focus isonthecoreelementsoftheruleoflaw,namely,propertyrightsandcontracts.Thebook analyses the reasons why legal institutions are important for growth. It explores the   Development and Change  335  policyconsequencesofrecognizingtheruleoflawasanessentialelementofeconomicdevelopment.Dam starts with a concise and pragmatic description of the rule of law in the firstchapter,rightlyemphasizingtheimportanceoftheprotectionofprivatepropertyrightsandrulesfortheirenforcement.Thisrepresentsanhonestandcleartreatmentofatopicoftenmuddledbytherhetoricofinternationalfinancialinstitutionsonsocialandhumanrights that does not actually translate into policies going beyond property and contract.The book achieves its aim of offering a practical guide to the policy implications of therule of law. While less defined contemporary notions like ‘governance’ are addressed,Dam remains focused on what, according to him, is important. This is not to say thata rule of law based on property and contract is enough for development, however, and Dam does not pretend that to be the case. One criticism of this work might be thatwhile he considers the property–contract–enforcement version of the rule of law as‘fundamental’, others will consider it incomplete.The second chapter critically examines the outdated but persistent idea that legalsrcin (common versus civil law) determines or affects development outcomes. Damconvincingly argues that the legal srcins literature, in the light of new data, is notan adequate predictor of the quality of legal institutions in any context (developed or developing). Indeed later in the book (p. 99) Dam counters the assumption that civillaw systems are procedurally heavier and more bureaucratic (with the consequence of  being less market friendly) by demonstrating that what is measured as bad ‘formalism’in many studies is the result of a terminological misunderstanding. Different proce-dural cultures, in other words, do not have pre-determined qualitative consequences.Thisrealizationallowsthebook,fromthethirdchapteronward,toaddressotherexpla-nations for underdevelopment, primarily those considering the quality of institutions.Dam’s presentation of the historical srcin of market friendly institutions in the Westconstitutes a legal and economic explanation of history, leading to a realization thatincomplete protection of property rights and insecure contractual bargains have detri-mental effects on growth. This idea, of course, lies at the basis of existing development programmes of the type promoted by Hernando de Soto, which are centred on formal-ization of property rights. This is not to say that Dam is an indiscriminate advocate of formally recognized private property rights. He makes the crucial distinction — oftenmissed — between commonly held and open access property, arguing that the dangersrepresented by the ‘tragedy of the commons’ apply to the latter but not necessarily theformer.Dam offers a detailed look at the judicial system and its independence as a factor affectingeconomicperformance.Thisservestohighlightcommonlydiscussedthemessuchasthelinkbetweenthepredictableresolutionofcontractualdisputesandeconomicoutcomes. However, explanations based on the quality of judicial institutions can betaken too far, as for example when a study is cited in which Argentina’s continued decline is blamed on the political domination of the judiciary (p. 115).The final part of the book pays special attention to the development of the finan-cial sector where changes in regulatory regimes have direct correlations to growthoutcomes. Dam considers China as a test case for the assumptions and conclusionsof the book. His treatment of China is illuminating, as he manages to explain howand why China differs from the West, while at the same time dispelling the myth thatChina’s economy operates in fundamentally alien ways. He concludes that the historyof Chinese growth has historical parallels in its region and beyond. However, Damfinds the Chineselegal system very unorthodox (in comparison to Western norms) and   336  Book Reviews notes that while it is moving more in the direction of protecting private property and contracts, it still needs to change radically to guarantee continued growth, albeit of amore moderate kind than usually assumed. Ioannis Glinavos School of Law, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, LondonWC1H 0XG, UK.E-mail:  DuncanK.Foley,  Adam’sFallacy:AGuidetoEconomicTheology .Cambridge,MA: The Bellknap Press of Harvard University Press, 2006. 265 + xviii pp.$25.95/ £ 16.95/ €€ 24.00 hardcover. Duncan Foley’s book is a formidable attempt to revive interest in the evolution of economic thought. But it is not a book on the history of economic thought proper. Itsaim is to achieve more — namely to expose the essential ‘fallacy’ that underlies mostof economic theorizing throughout its history. As the title indicates, this fallacy is dueto Adam Smith’s  The Wealth of Nations , which provide the main stage around whichthe author develops a coherent argument and critique of classical to contemporaryneoclassical economics.Adam’s fallacy ‘lies in the idea that it is possible to separate an economic sphereof life, in which the pursuit of self-interest is guided by objective laws to a socially beneficent outcome, from the rest of social life, in which the pursuit of self-interest ismorallyproblematicandhastobeweighedagainstotherends’(p.xiii).AsFoleywrites:‘By being selfish within the rules of capitalist property relations, Smith promises, weare actually being good to our fellow human beings’ (p. 2). This is the crux of   Adam’s Fallacy . This separation of the economic sphere from other spheres is essential toideologically justify a society based on competition and profit-making and it providesthe basis for modern ‘positivist’ economics. Foley debunks the positivist/scientific pretensionsusedtolegitimizethisseparation,exposingits‘theological’nature.‘Neither Smith nor any of his successors has been able to demonstrate rigorously and robustlyhow private selfishness turns into public altruism’ (p. 3).ThefirstchapterofthebookdealswiththeapproachfollowedbyAdamSmithin TheWealth of Nations . Adam Smith’s conceptualization of capitalist growth is expanded and amended by Malthus and Ricardo, whose theories are discussed in Chapter Two.The third and best chapter of the book is concerned with Karl Marx’s critique of thecapitalist system, which in essence undermined Smith’s ideological justification for capitalism.PartlyinresponsetoMarx’scritique,marginalistorneoclassicaleconomistsdeveloped a new framework incorporating Adam’s Fallacy in its purest form, which isdiscussed in Chapter Four. Jevons, Menger, Pareto and Walras created an axiomatized,mathematical political economy that ‘could endow the social relations of capitalismwiththeauraof“naturallaws”thatguaranteedthestabilityandrationalityofeconomiclife’ (p. 157). But the long, drawn-out crisis of the first half of twentieth century — including two World Wars, the Great Depression and the emergence of non-capitalistalternatives(intheUSSRandmanynewlyindependentformercolonies)—posednewchallengestothecapitalistorder.ChapterFivedealswithKeynes,SchumpeterandVonHayek, who — in very different ways — came to the rescue of the capitalist system.Chapter Six gives an overall summary and presents the author’s conclusions.   Development and Change  337 When treated as a history of economic thought (comparable to Heilbroner’s 1953classic TheWorldlyPhilosophers ,forinstance),Foley’sbookisamasterlyachievement.Avoiding all unnecessary jargon and with an unmatched clarity, Foley manages toexplain the essence of the works of the prominent economic thinkers of the eighteenth,nineteenth and twentieth centuries. His exposition of Smith’s vision of the capitalistgrowth process, based on a greater division of labour, technological progress and capital accumulation (in a full-employment economic system) is fascinating, as is hisdiscussion of how Ricardo and Malthus, by amending Smith’s theory, arrived at their ‘dismal’ stationary state.Foley’s discussion of Marx’s theory and critique of capitalism is superb: his expla-nation of Marx’s historical materialism, along with explanations of concepts such assurplus value, exploitation, modes of production, accumulation, estrangement, baseand superstructure and accumulation could not be clearer. This book is a ‘must-read’for anyone interested in Marx’s thoughts. Foley does not spare Marx from criticism,however, pointing to devastating gaps and inconsistencies in his arguments. Specifi-cally,FoleyobservesthatMarx’ssocialistsocietyfunctionsverymuchlikethecapitalistsociety it is supposed to have displaced, as it is also based on the generation of max-imum surplus value through a complex division of labour, albeit through collectiveexploitation.Foley’s book goes beyond being an introduction to political economy, because itsnarrative is organized around a single central theme: the effort of political economiststo come to terms with the moral contradictions of capitalism as part of their analyticalunderstanding of the capitalist system. Foley argues that Adam Smith claims thatthe single-minded pursuit of self-interest, which has to be balanced against regard for othersinnon-economichumanspheres,canbereliedupontoleadtosociallybeneficialoutcomesbothforoneselfandothersinthecontextofcompetitivemarketsinteractions.This is Adam’s Fallacy, which has reconciled many people, including most economistsafter Smith, to the morally troubling consequences of capitalist development. Foleyis well aware of the limitations of his interpretation of Smith’s moral stance. Hence,critics who argue that Foley’s account of Smith’s work is distorted, miss the point:irrespectiveofSmith’spreciseviewsonthemoralcontradictionsofcapitalism,Adam’sFallacy has significantly influenced and shaped economists’ moral judgements aboutcapitalism. The important point here is that Adam’s Fallacy  presupposes  that, in acapitalist system, there are in-built (self-regulating) mechanisms, which ensure thatthe system will operate at full employment. Put differently, Adam’s Fallacy criticallydepends on Say’s Law, which states that somehow jobs that get eliminated throughcompetition will be replaced somewhere else. If Say’s Law does not hold, as has beenargued by Marx and Keynes, there may be unemployment and thus moral and socialconflicts become inherent to capitalist development.Foley’s account must be regarded as a sequel to Albert Hirschman’s (1977)  The Passions and the Interests , which asks the question: How did self-interest becomehonourable in the modern age after having stood morally condemned as greed, loveof lucre, and avarice for centuries past? Hirschman shows that, at some point, thecapitalist pursuit of self-interest was actively promoted by moral philosophers includ-ing Spinoza, Hume and Montesquieu, as the prime countervailing passion to bridleand restrain the destructive passions of the ruling social classes. But this line of reasoning, which posited economic interests as a constraint upon political violence,was abandoned in the eighteenth century, as material wealth increased and (interna-tional) commercial interests expanded vastly. Material well-being became the sole
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