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A genealogy of epistemic and technological determinism in development aid discourses

Jan Cherlet (UGent)
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Abstract
In the last decade or so, the major development agencies have explicitly turned the spotlights on ‘knowledge for development’, ‘ICT for development’, or the ‘knowledge economy’ as new panacea to prompt development. This article argues, first, that knowledge and technology have always been integrally part of the very idea of ‘development’ since its emergence during Enlightenment. Recent appeals to knowledge or technology for development should be placed in an age-long genealogy of similar rationales. Second, the article elucidates that discourses about the roles of knowledge and technology in development have always varied widely, with deterministic and less deterministic interpretations often existing along each other. In this article, the many different interpretations are unravelled. Even today, very opposing roles are ascribed to knowledge and technology in development. Whereas strong versions of technological and epistemic determinism still reverberate in some present-day development discourses, they are simultaneously countered by discourses focusing on ‘capacity building’.
Keywords
capacity building, ICT4D, knowledge for development, development studies, technological determinism, epistemic determinism

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Chicago
Cherlet, Jan. 2011. “A Genealogy of Epistemic and Technological Determinism in Development Aid Discourses.” In Proceedings of the DIME Workshop  ’Technology, Institutions and Development. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Dept of Third World Studies.
APA
Cherlet, J. (2011). A genealogy of epistemic and technological determinism in development aid discourses. Proceedings of the DIME workshop  ’technology, institutions and development. Presented at the DIME Workshop “Technology, Institutions and Development”, Max Planck Institute, Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Dept of Third World Studies.
Vancouver
1.
Cherlet J. A genealogy of epistemic and technological determinism in development aid discourses. Proceedings of the DIME workshop  ’technology, institutions and development. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Dept of Third World Studies; 2011.
MLA
Cherlet, Jan. “A Genealogy of Epistemic and Technological Determinism in Development Aid Discourses.” Proceedings of the DIME Workshop  ’Technology, Institutions and Development. Ghent, Belgium: Ghent University, Dept of Third World Studies, 2011. Print.
@inproceedings{1108904,
  abstract     = {In the last decade or so, the major development agencies have explicitly turned the spotlights on {\textquoteleft}knowledge for development{\textquoteright}, {\textquoteleft}ICT for development{\textquoteright}, or the {\textquoteleft}knowledge economy{\textquoteright} as new panacea to prompt development. This article argues, \unmatched{fb01}rst, that knowledge and technology have always been integrally part of the very idea of {\textquoteleft}development{\textquoteright} since its emergence during Enlightenment. Recent appeals to knowledge or technology for development should be placed in an age-long genealogy of similar rationales. Second, the article elucidates that discourses about the roles of knowledge and technology in development have always varied widely, with deterministic and less deterministic interpretations often existing along each other. In this article, the many di\unmatched{fb00}erent interpretations are unravelled. Even today, very opposing roles are ascribed to knowledge and technology in development. Whereas strong versions of technological and epistemic determinism still reverberate in some present-day development discourses, they are simultaneously countered by discourses focusing on {\textquoteleft}capacity building{\textquoteright}.},
  author       = {Cherlet, Jan},
  booktitle    = {Proceedings of the DIME workshop 'technology, institutions and development},
  keyword      = {capacity building,ICT4D,knowledge for development,development studies,technological determinism,epistemic determinism},
  language     = {eng},
  location     = {Jena, Germany},
  pages        = {31},
  publisher    = {Ghent University, Dept of Third World Studies},
  title        = {A genealogy of epistemic and technological determinism in development aid discourses},
  year         = {2011},
}