Anthropology and the Politics of Development

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Anthropology and the Politics of Development Anthropology is at once a highly critical way of examining the history and progress of civilization and a potentially destructive force for its generally Western vantage point. In both regards, it is an extremely powerful force. As the study of human history and development, anthropology begins from the unspoken disposition that Western civilization has achieved a certain degree of academic and intellectual qualification to begin defining and characterizing what it perceived as lesser-developed civilizations. It is thus that a major contribution of anthropology to the study of development is the light it sheds both purposefully and inadvertently on the hierarchy of global development. Anthropology allows us to construct the world according to the developed and the developing sphere, essentially created the concept of the Third World and consequently subjecting it to particularly Western ideals of development. This argument is underscored in the text by Escobar (1995), which points to anthropology as a vehicle to the proposition that all nations are in pursuit of a specific set of developmental standards. According to Escobar, "to see development as a historically produced discourse entails an examination of why so many countries started to see themselves as underdeveloped in the early post-World War II period, how 'to develop' became a fundamental problem for them, and how, finally, they embarked upon the task of
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