AMERG019: Society and Development in Latin America

Course Convenor: Dr Thomas Grisaffi


This course uses anthropological theory and ethnographic examples to offer a critical perspective on development in Latin America. Anthropology’s ethnographic focus on connections between local and global process and attention to the cultural and social (as well as economic and political) dimensions of change offers a unique lens on development.

The first part of the course will address major theories and approaches in the anthropological study of development and will consider the debate over development and modernity as it has evolved in relation to Latin America. The second part of the course examines the turn to neoliberal governance in recent decades. We will review how this shift has changed the nature of poverty, and brought about or deepened different forms of social exclusion (including race and gender). We will examine some of the ways governments and international development agencies are attempting to tackle poverty including attempts to empower the poor through an emphasis on popular participation, micro-credit, multi-cultural reform and land titling.

· The development encounter

· The state, modernity and the market

· 'Neoliberalism' and responses to restructuring

· Living in the city: marginality and low income settlements

· Working in the city: informality, survival and making do

· Cash transfers, micro credit and gender

· Indigenous peoples, poverty and development

· Environmental and territorial politics

· Decentralization and civil society

· Alternative development and the war on drugs

Indicative Readings

Gill, L. (2000) Teetering on the Rim: Global Restructuring, Daily Life and the Armed Retreat of the Bolivian State. Columbia University Press: New York.

Rist, G. (2009) The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith. Zed Books.

Caldeira, T. (2000) City of Walls: Crime, Segregation and Citizenship in Sao Paulo. University of California Press: Berkeley.

Fabricant, N. (2012) Mobilizing Bolivia's Displaced: Indigenous Politics and the Struggle Over Land. University of North Carolina Press.

Hale, C. (2006) Mas Que Un Indio: Racial Ambivalence and Neoliberal multiculturalism in Guatemala. School of American Research.