Books and Media
Worlds Apart: Local and Global Villages
Periphery and globalised capitalism
Ethnicity and ethnic conflicts in Afghanistan
Partnership for International Development
World Banks water policy
Olaf Gerlach et al (Eds.):
beyond the mainstream
Peripherie und globalisierter Kapitalismus. Zur Kritik der Entwicklungstheorie (Periphery and globalised Capitalism. A Critique of Development Theory).
Frankfurt, Brandes & Apsel 2004, 348 pages, Euro 25.00, ISBN 3-86099-803-X
The major theories have failed. This 1992 verdict of German political scientist Ulrich Menzel on the changed geopolitical situation and growing interdependencies in all areas, set in motion a range of scientific and political initiatives. For the interdisciplinary Working Group on Development Theory at Berlins Free University the paradigm shift must go on. The group bases its criticism of globalised capitalism on the ideas of the periphery. In this respect, it is in line with recent critical writing on capitalism. Its emphasis, however, is on often neglected factors such as dominance, dependence and hegemony.
In the first part of the book, Gerhard Hauck discusses the history of development theory, Reinhart Kößler examines the term development and Birgit Mahnkopf assesses the failure of normative paradigms due to systemic questions. The second part puts development mainstreams unquestioned biases on the trial. Gabriele Zdunnek elaborates on feminist criticism of development theory in the last decades. Daniel Kumitz criticises the prevalent focus on the nation and nation-building. Christian Girschner questions supposed welfare gains from free trade. Finally, Christoph Görg elaborates on an overused cliché in his essay From catch-up to sustainable development and back again.
The books third part deals with the key concepts of development theory: Modernisation, Dependency and Marxism. Martha Zapata Galindo challenges the latest paradigm of modernisation theory the one of multiple modernities. Yvonne Franke checks the usefulness and deficits of various forms of Dependency Theory. Stefan Kalmring and Andras Nowak reassess mostly unfamiliar material from the writings of Karl Marx for development theory. The fourth part discusses inequality, dominance and hegemony in the global system. Dieter Boris analyses the consequences of financial crises for developing countries. Eva Hartmann examines the role of transnational knowledge networks. Oliver Nachtwey and Tobias ten Brink ask what classical imperialism theory may contribute to analyse todays problems. Finally, Christian Zeller attempts to cast some light on the alleged saving grace of global governance.
Initially, the anthology seems confusing because of its abundance of different critical approaches and apparent lack of a central theme. But in spite of its workshop character, the book is important. It contributes to the necessary reassessment of traditional and present-day theories. After all, there is no all-embracing theory on the conditions and strategies of global development. The prevailing historical, cultural, social and global circumstances demand different strategies. Approaches which challenge the established power structures are indispensable in this context.