South Asia

Organized Panel Session

1 - Development as Middle Class Poverty Politics

Friday, July 6
12:10 PM - 1:40 PM
Location: Magnolia, Lower Ground Floor

Economic liberalization leads to ‘privatization of public interest’ and subsequent decentralization (Kamat 2004) and NGO-ization of the women’s movement. The flow of funds to non-governmental organizations caused their gradual professionalization; the latter emerged in response to donors’ demands for effectiveness and accountability (Kamat 2004: 168). I argue that through its bureaucratization, empowerment - one of the most important (declared) goals of non-governmental organizations - becomes a tool for constructing and underlying the differences between ‘beneficiaries’ and the organization’s employees. I examine how a class of main actors involved in development processes could influence the scope and effects of NGOs activities. First, I present shifting meanings of development that occurred with neo-liberalization policies and changes within women’s studies. Second, I discuss the role of middle classes in these processes. I conclude that development became an important tool for middle-class upgrading and/or maintaining its dominant position over lower classes. The paper is based on long-term ethnographic fieldwork in Delhi-based NGOs, working in one of the slum areas of the capital of India (where the majority of women are in prostitution or at risk of it).

Anna Romanowicz

Jagiellonian University, Poland

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