For a very long time the ‘Third World’ has appeared to Western observers as a bundle of problems, with violence and suffering being fixed signs of its naturalized state. Images of gun-toting religious fundamentalists in the Middle East, bloody civil wars in Africa, and drug-traffickers in Latin America regularly fill the television screens, as do images of Mother Teresa’s orphans in hapless slums, disaster-prone Ethiopians or nameless victims of natural and human disaster in mysterious places, usually with strange names. In this tired and predictable representation, the Third World is a world to be analysed, controlled, managed, even salvaged; a laboratory for endless social engineering. Imbued with what Ashis Nandy calls a ‘secular theory of salvation’, development has offered the splendid prospects of ‘modernization’: from poverty alleviation to democratization, from building new institutions of capitalism to helping save the environment. The list of solutions is unending, subject to multiplication with the changing times. Underpinning policy prescriptions is the proposition that the Third World cannot cope with its problems. Its own solutions are reckless, its understanding of society defective, and its sensibility irrational.
KeywordsSecular Theory Asian NICs Political Economy Analysis Human Disaster Civilize Mission
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Notes and References
- For Ashis Nandy’s remark on development as ‘a secular theory of salvation’, see Tariq Banuri, ‘Development and the Politics of Knowledge: A Critical Interpretation of the Social Role of Modernization Theories in the Development of the Third World’, in Frederique Apffel Marglin and Stephen A. Marglin (eds), Dominating Knowledge: Development, Culture, and Resistance (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990) p. 30, n. 4.Google Scholar
- Disraeli’s statement appears on the opening page of Edward Said’s Orientalism (New York: Vintage Books, 1978).Google Scholar
- Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak’s essay, ‘Can the Subaltern Speak?’, appears in Wedge, 7/8 (Winter/Spring 1985).Google Scholar
- Marx’s statement, ‘They cannot represent themselves; they must be represented,’ comes from The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte (1852).Google Scholar
- See Karl Marx and Frederick Engels, Selected Works, Volume 1 (Moscow: Progress Publishers, 1973) pp. 394–487.Google Scholar
- For a detailed formulation of Francis Fukuyama’s ‘end-of-history’ thesis, see The End of History and the Last Man (New York: The Free Press, 1992).Google Scholar
- Vandana Shiva, Staying Alive: Women, Ecology and Development (London: Zed Books, 1989).Google Scholar
- Prominent Third World voices can be found in Trinh T. Minh-ha, Woman, Native, Other: Writing Postcoloniality and Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1989) andGoogle Scholar
- Chandra Talpade Mohanty et al. (eds), Third World Women and the Politics of Feminism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1992).Google Scholar
- On ‘decolonization of imagination’ see especially Jan Nederveen Pieterse and Bhiku Parekh (eds), The Decolonization of Imagination: Culture, Knowledge and Power (London: Zed Books, 1995).Google Scholar
- For an analysis of Islamic resurgence in the context of globalization, see Mustapha Kamal Pasha and Ahmed I. Samatar, ‘The Resurgence of Islam’, in James H. Mittelman (ed.), Globalization: Critical Reflections, Vol. 9 of the International Political Economy Yearbook (Boulder, Col.: Lynne Rienner, 1996), pp. 187–201.Google Scholar