Agostino Ascione, Ana Claudia, University of South Africa, Pretoria

An Exploration of the Theory and Practice of Post Development as an Alternative to Development

This dissertation is an exploratory study of the ideas put forward by theorists of post-Development. This current of thought emerged as a radical critique of the Development discourse, proclaiming that no reformulation could change the essential character of it, that being the "Westernisation" of the world. As post-Development's definitions rely on their opposition to what Development represents, from a theoretical point of view as well as in the myriad of behaviours resulting from it, the starting point of the thesis is an analytical account of Development discourse through the various theories that have shaped it during the second half of the 20th century. Other theories that can be considered outside mainstream Development are also analysed as well as those conventionally classified as alternative Development. A whole chapter is then dedicated to thoroughly review the historical unfolding of the Development discourse.

The following chapter deals with the ideas put forward by post-Development. It relies on a series of publications identified with this current of thought as well as with information provided by one of its most prominent authors, Dr. Wolfgang Sachs, in an interview conducted by the author of this thesis. It also uses an unpublished manuscript given to the author by Gustavo Esteva, also prominent in the constitution and dissemination of the ideas of post-Development. In an effort to identify whether post-Development has remained at the level of theoretical formulation or if it has informed practices on the ground, research about the activities and underlying beliefs of the Global Barter Network (in Uruguay and in Argentina) and the World Social Forum was undertaken. The field-study, which is presented in the 4th chapter of the thesis, aimed at researching these particular initiatives and draw conclusions with respect to the existence of coincidences with the ideas of post-Development. The dissertation concludes then with an analysis of post-Development's major contributions to the Development debate, of its relationship with already existing practices, of ist distinctiveness from alternative Development. It analyses the originality of the post-Development discourse and makes proposals for further research.