Governmentality and the Analytics of Development

in Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
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In this article, I discuss the extension of Foucault’s work on governmentality into the fields of global studies in general and development studies in particular. Drawing on insights from postdevelopment theory and critical race theory, I present an adaptation of governmentality—labeled developmentality—that is intended to bridge the gap between those studies dealing with the regulatory aspects of development in the global South and those dealing with construction of ethical identities in the North.

Governmentality and the Analytics of Development

in Perspectives on Global Development and Technology



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Dean (1999) uses the term “mentality of government” as the possible source behind Foucault’s neologism governmentality; other scholars such as Colin Gordon (1991) describe it in terms of “governmental rationality.” The difference appears largely immaterial as the concepts are described in basically the same light.


See Dean (1999) for a discussion of the tension in liberalism as it “seeks to balance the bio-political imperative of the optimization of the life of the population against the rights of the juridical-political subject and the norms of an economic government” (p. 49).


See also Dean (2001) Hindess (2001) Helliwell and Hindess (2002) and Valverde (1996) for discussions of how liberal modes of government can effectively legitimize removing freedoms in some societies usually those considered uncivilized or undeveloped.


Mawuko-Yevugah (2010) looks extensively at the discursive construction of Africa and its effect on development interventions. While this goes beyond looking at the intersection between governmentality and international development solely in terms of (self-)regulation his case study deals with Ghana and is therefore largely concerned with the South.


As with Li (2007) this approach focuses on the way certain conceptualizations of the problems of development are ‘rendered technical’ and the resulting interventions appear natural and apolitical.


Bornstein (2002) also makes the interesting observation that faith is used as a disciplinary technique in central NGO offices.


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