June 01, 2007
A COUPLE OF PROJECTS MENTIONED IN ANNE'S POST: Participation: The New Tyranny?, edited by Bill Cooke and Uma Kothari, is about participatory development‘s potential for tyranny, showing how it can lead to the unjust and illegitimate exercise of power. It is the first book-length treatment to address the gulf between the almost universally fashionable rhetoric of participation, which promises empowerment and appropriate development on the one hand, and what actually happens when consultants and activists promote and practise participatory development, on the other.
The contributors, all social scientists and development specialists, come from various disciplines and a wide variety of hands on experience. Their aim is to provide a sharp contrast to the seductive claims of participation, and to warn its advocates of the pitfalls and limitations of participatory development. The book also challenges participatory practitioners and theorists to reassess their own role in promoting a set of practiCes which are at best naďve about questions of power, and at worst serve to systemically reinforce, rather than overthrow, existing inequalities.
For the recipients of participatory development this book provides critical insights into the history, the institutions, and the day to day activities through which participation is done to them. It provides them with a range of arguments which support the legitimate decision not to participate on others‘ terms, and also with grounds to oppose or negotiate the intervention of participatory development in their lives.
Some contributions in this book seek to learn the lessons of particular examples of failed participatory practiCe. Others present more conceptually oriented analyses, many of which go beyond those conventionally associated with development studies. Together they provide a more rigorous and provocative understanding of participatory development than has hitherto been available, which donors, academics and practitioners will find hard to ignore.
"The aim of the Telephone Trottoire project is to engage the London based Congolese community in issues that affect their day-to-day lives. 'Telephone Trottoire' is based on a new form of 'contagious' telephone application developed by Mongrel and named after the Congolese practice of 'pavement radio' or the passing around of news and gossip between individuals on street corners. In Central Africa people defy media censorship by sharing news and gossip using 'radio trottoire' or 'pavement radio'. Built in collaboration with the radio programmes 'Nostalgie Ya Mboka' and 'Londres Na Biso', 'Telephone Trottoire' encourages London's Congolese community to pass around news stories and discuss them using a unique system of sharing content over the phone. The project engages the Congolese community on their own terms by using systems that draw from their own culture, beliefs and folklore – some stories are intended to provoke, some to entertain and some to educate. All allow listeners to record their own comments and pass the call on to a friend or family member by entering their phone number. Some are true and some are false – after all isn’t this all about gossip – the 'Telephone Trottoire'?"
Posted by jo at June 1, 2007 05:11 PM