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The projection of development: cinematic representation as an(other) source of authoritative knowledge?


  • David Lewis
  • Dennis Rodgers
  • Michael Woolcock


Abstract Popular representations of development need to be taken seriously (though not uncritically) as sources of authoritative knowledge, not least because this is how most people in the global North (and elsewhere) ‘encounter’ development issues. To this end, and building on the broader agenda presented in a previous paper on exploring the usefulness of literary representations of development, we consider three different types of cinematic representations of development: films providing uniquely instructive insights, those unhelpfully eliding and simplifying complex processes, and those that, with the benefit of historical hindsight, usefully convey a sense of the prevailing assumptions that guided and interpreted the efficacy of development-related interventions at a particular time and place. We argue that the commercial and technical imperatives governing the production of contemporary films, and ‘popular’ films in particular, generate a highly variable capacity to ‘accurately’ render key issues in development, and thereby heighten their potential to both illuminate and obscure those issues.

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  • David Lewis & Dennis Rodgers & Michael Woolcock, 2012. "The projection of development: cinematic representation as an(other) source of authoritative knowledge?," Global Development Institute Working Paper Series 17612, GDI, The University of Manchester.
  • Handle: RePEc:bwp:bwppap:17612

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    1. David Lewis & Dennis Rodgers & Michael Woolcock, 2008. "The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge," Journal of Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 44(2), pages 198-216.
    2. L. Randall Wray & Stephanie Bell, 2004. "Introduction," Chapters,in: Credit and State Theories of Money, chapter 1 Edward Elgar Publishing.
    3. Matt Smith & Helen Yanacopulos, 2004. "The public faces of development: an introduction," Journal of International Development, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 16(5), pages 657-664.
    4. David Lewis & David Mosse, 2006. "Encountering Order and Disjuncture: Contemporary Anthropological Perspectives on the Organization of Development," Oxford Development Studies, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 34(1), pages 1-13.
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    1. Amrita Chhachhi & Ben Page, 2014. "‘And the Oscar Goes to… Daybreak in Udi’: Understanding Late Colonial Community Development and its Legacy through Film," Development and Change, International Institute of Social Studies, vol. 45(5), pages 838-868, September.

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