This critical fieldwork study interrogates the sociocultural and political economic
production of underdevelopment through an analysis of the difference-based development politics occurring “on the ground” in and around Gitano non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Specifically, I propose that dominant development discourses and practices have promoted the desire for sociocultural integration and a nationalist politics of sociocultural erasure among targeted ethnic minority communities. Rather than encouraging serious political and cultural dialogue between ethnic (non-
Gitano and Gitano) communities, state development agencies have employed strategies
of contracting out social services to Gitano NGOs, thereby facilitating the dispersal of
political accountability. This stopgap tactic has generated an increased dependence of targeted communities on flighty state handouts and dwindling sociocultural livelihood strategies for them to confront marginalization. Gitano NGOs have adopted the role of go-betweens wherein, on the one hand, normalized Gitano elites enact dominant
development praxis and, on the other hand, they advocate apparently progressive Gitano
nationalist and feminist politics. Community residents, for their part, have generally
employed a defensive politics of active non-participation. That is, they seek the
socioeconomic incentives of state development policies via NGOization while
implicating themselves as little as possible in processes of sociocultural integration. The prevailing scholarship presents a top-down view of development praxis wherein state and global political economic processes act upon more or less passive, culture-trapped locals. In contrast, I contend that the everyday tensions between state agents, NGO members, and local residents reveal politically, economically, and socioculturally interested actions and contention on all sides that have nonetheless had the cumulative deleterious effect both of creating some Gitano (desire for) integration and generalized marginalization via development, or “underdevelopment.” My analysis is drawn from over two years of fieldwork at two Gitano NGOs located in a social housing community of the southern Spanish city of Granada. This project contributes to debates on the difference-based production of development, feminist geographies of NGOization, and critical feminist praxis.
University of Minnesota Ph.D. dissertation. June, 2008. Major: Feminist Studies. Advisor: Richa Nagar. 1 computer file (PDF); v, 222 pages.
Integration, Erasure, and Underdevelopment: The Everyday Politics and Geographies of Gitano NGOization.
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