Geographies of International Development
GEOG 3682, Maymester 2010
MTWRF, 9am - 12:15pm, HUMN 135
University of Colorado at Boulder
Depending on who is invoking it, “development” has multiple meanings. For some development may mean progress, modernity, or economic order, while for others it may mean dependency, inequality, or neo-colonialism. As such, “geographies of international development” is intentionally plural, which should tell you that there is no single, universally-accepted approach to development in human geography. Nor will this course will not suggest a “right” way to define or interpret development. It will argue, however, that to understand development, we must first appreciate the complexity of the term and the geographical nuances inherent to development projects.
We will approach the study of international development using the conceptual and theoretical tools of human geography. Human geography is a broad discipline concerned with the ways humans inhabit and interact with the world. In a broad sense, human geography is concerned with spatial difference: the question is not simply what is different, but more importantly where, why, and how such proceeses are different.
If you follow issues of international development in the popular media, it can seem like everyone everywhere is equally caught up in a linear process of change called “progress.” Development projects are intended to transform and generally improve how groups and individuals in different parts of the world experience life. This course will complicate that idea, and emphasize that any understanding of development is deeply embedded in specific places and histories. In other words, what we mean by development depends on where we are and when. Development is intensely geographic. While this is not a course on evaluating and implementing development programs, I hope the paths of critique we follow will be valuable ways of thinking through the discourses and practices of development and building an understanding of development's intensely geographic character.