This panel considers how the anthropology of development can contribute to understanding contemporary moral sensibilities, and what anthropological theories of morality can contribute towards reclaiming development as a practice of good intent.
The core rationale of development (understood as a set of practices, institutions and discourses), is a recognition of humanity, and the extension of sympathy towards the plight of disadvantaged people at a distance. This panel considers how the anthropology of development can contribute to understanding contemporary moral sensibilities, and what anthropological theories of morality can contribute towards reclaiming development as a practice of good intent. Papers are invited that explore how a lens of moral sensibility can extend and go beyond the established preoccupations of an anthropology of development. What can discursive critiques reveal about the validity of claims to a universal morality? How do moral discourses establish development objectives and practices through unequal relations? Ethnographic attention to development as a part of the texture and complicity of social life, gives further insights into the processes of change and the reconfiguring of relations in contemporary societies (Olivier de Sardan 2005). A focus on morality prompts questions such as: How can empirical attention to the interfaces (Long 2000) of developers and 'developees' offer insights into the institutionalisation of (and challenge to) norms of social interaction between unequal parties? How does the performance of sympathy towards the generalised distant 'other' contribute to the making of the 'modern subject' (Chakrabarty 2000) and contemporary identities? Finally, panellists are invited to consider new contributions of anthropology to development as a political ethical project. How can anthropology inform debates as to the morality of development interventions versus non-interference, and the future possibilities for a reimagined development.