The Anti-Politics Machine: Development, Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho

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ISBN-13: 978-0816624379
ISBN-10: 0816624372
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: University of Minnesota Press (February 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0816624372
  • ISBN-13: 978-0816624379
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #141,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By autopoietic on April 5, 2010
Format: Paperback
Ferguson describes this book as "not principally a book about the Basotho people, or even about Lesotho; it is principally a book about the operation of the "international development" apparatus in a particular setting." His book is about the complex relation between the intentionality of planning in a development project in Lesotho and the strategic intelligibility of its outcomes, which turn out to be unintended, but instrumental in expanding state power and, at the same time, depoliticizing the power.

Against the backdrop of the swarm of development agencies in Lesotho, Africa, he employs a Foucauldian notion of discourse being a practice (to engage in a discourse is to do something). In a fascinating analysis, he shows how World Bank's country report on Lesotho summarily labels Lesotho as a subsistence-based economy with high population growth untouched by capitalism. Ferguson argues that Lesotho was, in fact, affected by capitalism as early at 1910, that the World Bank is not just wrong, but systematically wrong in its portrayal of Lesotho. He describes the case of the World-bank funded Thaba-Tseka project (1975-84), which was originally designed to convert mountainous regions into commercial livestock ranges by providing road connections and low-cost production techniques. He then details why the project failed to live up to its original goals.

To do so, Ferguson traverses back and forth between discourse analysis of development and ethnographic field work in his method. Such a lens provides an understanding of the reconfigurations, causalities, and particularities of each other. Furthermore, it helps me understand the processes, practices and phenomena as occurring within a larger context of discourse production, rather than appearing to act in isolation.

He could have provided a less personal epilogue, though, which is rather disappointing in highly impressive book.

A must for anyone engaging with development.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 8, 1999
Format: Paperback
Ferguson's study of development projects in Lesotho brings a much needed dose of reality to the subject of modernization and aid. While others might stress the need for appropriate technology or bog the reader down in economic formulae, Ferguson examines the ways in which local and global politics influence the success of even the most carefully planned and well-meaning of projects. A must-read for anyone interested in the development business.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Cyril Fegue on March 9, 2008
Format: Paperback
Ferguson's book is a powerful analysis of the epistemological bottlenecks that plague development policy and the World Bank's approach in Africa. World Bank's economists usually put a discount upon rigorous social research requirements in the way they explain cause-effect relationships of the African economic deficits. With commanding persuasive force Ferguson shows how the peculiarities of the African context are dissolved in a (anti-contextual) cut-and-ready, illogical analytical framework, rendered 'logical' to best accommodate World Bank's internal bureaucratic rationality. One should not wonder why the policies born out of such an 'Anti-Politics Machine' by and large remain in de-phase with the very notion of development.

By
Cyril FEGUE
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By runningwithquills on April 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
The world could use more James Fergusons. This book was sharp, witty, occasionally but appropriately scathing, and simply brilliant. Ferguson makes the reader question the meaning of "development." You can throw out your preconceived notions of modernity and "development" after reading this.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Nicholas Acord on September 27, 2014
Format: Paperback
This is a interesting look into how development discourse is created, what purposes it serves, how it often differs from facts on the ground and what the consequences are. If you're interested in making s foray into the world of development this a great case study to take a look at.
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By maolchoin on May 9, 2015
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
incomplete,data but a basic source on a little known country
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