Penn State

Brian King - Associate Professor of Geography, Penn State University Park

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

Author: James Ferguson

Book Description:

What is development? So begins the Anti-Politics Machine and the resulting discussion has ensured that the book remains one of the most important contributions to the scholarly and policy literatures on poverty and underdevelopment. In a richly detailed account that is impressively grounded by ethnographic research, Ferguson engages with the ways in which development ideas gain power through theory and practice. Central to his analysis is that the machinery of global development benefits by making poverty a technical challenge that can be simply addressed through just the right mix of knowledge and policy. Ferguson argues, however, that these interventions often fail because they are depoliticized and miss the overt and hidden layers that create underdevelopment while proving resistant to change. The importance of the subject and continued resonance of the analysis demonstrates the value of scholarship in addressing humanity's most pressing challenges. And it remains a reminder of the need for compassion leavened with urgent insistence to ensure that these challenges are met.

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