History 87 Development and Modern Africa, Spring 2007

This is the latest version of this course that I’ve taught. I still need to make some of the specific selections of reading material on a number of these texts: I’m trying to get small but potent samples of a number of writers and perspectives. I keep being struck at how hard it is to get a really concentrated and short reading that reflects the postmodernist critique of progress, save through its application in critiques of “development discourse” in Week Eight of this class.

I’m also still weighing the specific issues to examine at the end of the semester. I’m happy with the quality of materials I can draw on with regard to wildlife management and conservation, HIV-AIDS, and cellphones. The river blindness literature is pretty dry, but since it’s an interestingly “successful” campaign, I’d like to include it. Other suggestions of specific topics are welcome, since even if I don’t focus on them through readings, I’ll add them to the list of suggested research topics.

This syllabus is also a pretty good snapshot of something I try very hard to do in a lot of classes, which is to keep both “postmodernist” or theoretical approaches and pragmatic or practicioner approaches to a topic like “development” in the same frame without subordinating one to the other. Usually, it seems to me, the “development discourse” crowd sets up the discussion in a kind of master framework in which the character of development as discourse is a kind of axiomatic given, but the reply from within the debate among people invested from development is just as unsatisfying, a kind of shrug and dismissal. It seems to me that you can consider development as a concept which has a deep and often poorly understood set of intellectual and institutional roots without assuming that this investigation exposes development as a “construct” whose internal premises no longer need to be debated in an open-ended or sympathetic manner.

History 87
Development and Modern Africa
Spring 2007
Professor Burke

This course is an intellectual and institutional history of “development” and its application to Africa since the late 19th Century. We will examine both concepts and practices of development historically in order to gain perspective on contemporary debates between practicioners, reformers, and skeptics about the prospects and meaning of “development” in 21st Century Africa.

The reading load for the course is fairly heavy and will require attentive management. Students will complete two short response papers early in the semester and then move towards working in stages on a longer research assignment in the second half of the semester. We will have “poster sessions” in which students will present abbreviated overviews of their research in the final two class meetings of the semester. The course is built around discussion, and as a result, class attendance and participation are also an important part of the assessment of student performance.

Books for purchase

Monica van Beusekom, Negotiating Development
Walter Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth
Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts
George Packer, The Village of Waiting
Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty
William Easterly, White Man’s Burden

January 24th
Progress as an Idea
Robert Nisbet, History of the Idea of Progress, selection
J.B. Bury, The Idea of Progress, selection
Marshall Berman, “Faust: The First Developer”, in Rahnema, ed., The Post-Development Reader
Christopher Lasch, The True and Only Heaven: Progress and Its Critics, short selection

January 31st
18th and 19th Century Visions of Progress
Short selections from Condorcet, Turgot, Kant, Smith, Marx, Spencer, and Darwin

February 7th
Critics of Progress in the Counter-Enlightenment
Edmund Burke, Reflections on the French Revolution, selection
Thomas Carlyle, Past and Present, selection
Thomas Malthus, Wikipedia entry.
Kevin Binfield, ed., Writings of the Luddites
Darrin McMahon, Enemies of the Enlightenment. Connect to this title electronically in Tripod.. Read pp. 18-47.
Neil Postman, Building a Bridge to the Eighteenth Century, Chapter 2

Response paper #1 on “progress” due at the beginning of class.

February 14th
Colonial Visions of Development
John Seeley, The Expansion of England, selection
Frederick Lugard, The Dual Mandate in British Tropical Africa, selection
Charles Rey, Monarch of All I Survey, selection
David Livingstone, excerpts from Zambesi travel narrative and from Blaikie biography of Livingstone
“Mister Johnson”

February 21st
Colonialism and the Origins of the Developmental State
Monica Van Beusekom, Negotiating Development, all
Michael Mahoney, “Colonial and Anticolonial Development Ideologies in Mozambique, 1930-1977”, in David Engerman, Staging Growth: Modernization, Development and the Global Cold War

February 28th
Modernization Theory, Dependency Theory and Postwar Development
Walter Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth
Nils Gilman, Mandarins of the Future, Chapter 1
Michael Adas, “Modernization Theory and the American Revival of the Scientific and Technological Standards of Social Achievement and Human Progress”, in David Engerman, Staging Growth: Modernization, Development and the Global Cold War
Colin Leys, The Rise and Fall of Development Theory, Chapter 1
United Nations, “Declaration on Social Progress and Development”, 1969

March 7th
Structural Adjustment, Neoliberalism and African Economic Decline
James Ferguson, Expectations of Modernity

Spring Break

March 21st
Development as Discourse
Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts, all

Topic for research paper due
Response paper #2 due at the beginning of class

March 28th
Experiences of Development
George Packer, The Village of Waiting, all
Deborah Scroggins, Emma’s War, selection
Michael Maren, The Road to Hell, Chapter 1-3

April 4th
Experiences of Development II
Daniel Smith, A Culture of Corruption
Harry West, Kupilikula, Chapter 25
Donald Moore, Suffering For Territory: Race, Place and Power in Zimbabwe, Chapter 2
Adam Ashforth, Witchcraft, Violence and Democracy, selection

April 11th
Optimists and Practicioners
Jeffrey Sachs, The End of Poverty, all
Amartya Sen, Development as Freedom, short selection
World Bank, World Development Report 2003: Sustainable Development in a Dynamic World, selection

Initial bibliography for research paper due

April 18th
Pessimists and Critics
William Easterly, White Man’s Burden, all
Joseph Stiglitz, Globalization and Its Discontents, selection
“Darwin’s Nightmare”

Abstract due.

April 25th
Topics I: HIV-AIDS, wildlife management; student presentations

May 2nd
Topics II: Cellphones and rural markets, river blindness; student presentations