Universität Wien
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240513 SE Infrastructure Projects and Development: Anthropological Critique (P4) (2020W)

Continuous assessment of course work

Participation at first session is obligatory!

The lecturer can invite students to a grade-relevant discussion about partial achievements. Partial achievements that are obtained by fraud or plagiarized result in the non-evaluation of the course (entry 'X' in certificate). The plagiarism software 'Turnitin' will be used for courses with continuous assessment.


Note: The time of your registration within the registration period has no effect on the allocation of places (no first come, first served).


max. 20 participants
Language: English


Classes (iCal) - next class is marked with N

Update 11.12.2020: Due to the current Covid-19 Situation the course will change to digital till the end of the semester.

Update 3.11.2020: Due to the current Covid-19 Situation the course will change to digital till the end of the year.

Monday 19.10. 11:30 - 14:45 Hörsaal A, NIG 4.Stock
Friday 30.10. 11:30 - 14:45 Übungsraum (A414) NIG 4. Stock
Monday 09.11. 11:30 - 14:45 Digital
Monday 23.11. 11:30 - 14:45 Digital
Monday 07.12. 11:30 - 14:45 Digital
Monday 18.01. 11:30 - 14:45 Digital


Aims, contents and method of the course

The notion of "development" with its underlying idea of continuous progress rooted in earlier colonial and enlightenment thinking, has been used to describe and explain social and cultural differences since the 1950s. "Development" did not only provide an utopian vision of a post-colonial future, but also provided the rationale for the creation of international development institutions (IMF, World Bank, UNDP and other agencies). The work of practicing anthropologists, who often had been employed by these very same organizations, constituted the applied field of development anthropology. On the other hand, anthropological inquiries have been increasingly central to the emergence of a "post-development" critique that stems from a wider postmodern, postcolonial subversion of the superiority of Western forms of knowledge. This critique of development reveals how the supposedly benign goals of development actors and agencies result in new forms of inequality, and enforces Western "solutions" and forms of expertise, while constructing a passive "Global South". Often focusing on the analysis of development discourse and ideology, this approach is referred to as anthropology of development.
This course aims explore the complex relationship between anthropology and development by focusing both on discourses and practices of modernization and development in different ethnographic contexts. The topics that will be covered in the course include social, economic and cultural aspects of community and regional development in a globalized world, the concepts and components of sustainable development, issues of inequality and representations of marginalized groups (such as indigenous peoples and ethnic minorities). The links between development and industrialization, resource extraction, and infrastructure projects will be drawn. The geographical scope of the course will cover (post)colonial remote locations across the world, while paying particular attention to the former Soviet Union and the circumpolar North. The course will have seminar character: it will start with an introductory lecture and proceed with a number of reading and review assignments, where students’ input will be central.

Assessment and permitted materials

A mandatory seminar paper will count for 50% (which equal 50 points) of the grade. The rest of the grade will be determined by short oral presentations and written response papers, as well as by course participation.

Minimum requirements and assessment criteria

In order to receive a passing grade, you need at least 60 points. A 'sehr gut' requires at least 90 out of 100 points (a 'gut' at least 80 points, etc.). Attendance is required throughout the semester.

Examination topics

Reading list

Blaser, Mario, Harvey A. Feit, and Glenn McRae, eds. 2004. In the way of development. Indigenous Peoples, Life Projects and Globalization. London: Zed Books.
Collins, Timothy. 2015. Local economic development in the twenty-first century: quality of life and sustainability. Community Development 46(1):79-80.
Escobar, Arturo. 1995. Encountering Development. The Making and Unmaking of the Third World. Princeton, NJ: Princeton Univ. Press.
Ferguson, James. 1999. Expectations of Modernity: Myths and Meanings of Urban Life on the Zambian Copperbelt. Pp. xvii, 326. Perspectives on Southern Africa; 57. Berkley: University of California Press.
Gardner, Katy, and David Lewis. 1999. Anthropology, development and the post-modern challenge. London [u.a.]: Pluto Press.
Hetherington, Kregg. 2014. Waiting for the Surveyor: Development Promises and the Temporality of Infrastructure. Journal of Latin American and Caribbean Anthropology 19(2):195-211.
Hickey, Samuel, and Giles Mohan. 2004. Participation: from Tyranny to Transformation? Exploring New Approaches to Participation in Development. London: Zed Books.
Jull, Peter. 2003. The Politics of Sustainable Development. In Indigenous Peoples: Resource Management and Global Rights. S. Jentoft, H. Minde, and R. Nilsen, eds. Pp. 21-44. Delft: Eburon.
Lang, Miriam, and Dunia Mokrani, eds. 2013. Beyond Development. Alternative Visions from Latin America. Quito: Rosa Luxemburg Foundation.
Li, Tania Murray. 2017. After Development: Surplus Population and the Politics of Entitlement. Development and Change 48(6):1247-1261.
Olivier de Sardan, Jean-Pierre. 2004. Anthropology for development: understanding contemporary social change.
Venkatesan, Soumhya. 2012. Differentiating development: beyond an anthropology of critique. New York, NY [u.a.]: Berghahn Books.

Association in the course directory

Last modified: Fr 12.05.2023 00:21