Constructing notions of development : an analysis of the experiences of Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers and the Peace Corps in Latin America and their interaction with indigenous communities in Ecuadorian Highlands

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2013-08

Authors

Kawachi, Kumiko

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Abstract

Post-development theorist, Arturo Escobar's influential work, Encountering Development as well as other post-development academic works discussed the concept and delivery of "development" based on known antecedents--Western countries as practitioners and non-Western countries as beneficiaries. Even though cultural sensibility has become a significant issue in development today, there is little research that analyzes the construction of non-Western donors' discourse such as those of the Japanese governmental aid agency, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers. Moreover, non-Western aid donors and practitioners' engagement with indigenous development in Latin America has not been discussed. This dissertation aims to answer the following questions: How do Western and non-Western governmental donor agencies construct and deliver 'development' to 'non-developed' countries in Latin America, particularly to countries with large indigenous populations? How do these donor agencies' volunteer practitioners implement development projects in the field? What are the differences in the aims and delivery of development projects between Western and non-Western donors and their volunteer practitioners, especially in those projects aimed at indigenous populations? A corollary to those questions was to attempt to discover how the agencies and their volunteers negotiated notions of development with indigenous peoples as well as how agencies and volunteers perceived and addressed ethnic differences in the aid recipients' countries. To answer these questions I compared and contrasted two governmental agencies that are the most prominent and with the longest record of volunteer aid in Latin America: the United States Peace Corps and the Japanese agency, Japan Overseas Cooperation Volunteers (JOCV). Although the U.S. Peace Corps and its notion of development were models of "development" for the JOCV program, JOCV's discourse of development and its development practices are not the same as the Peace Corps. Both agencies' cross-cultural policies for their volunteers as well as the development practices the agencies adopted likely reflect how the Japanese and United States understand their own societies in general cultural terms, as well as in terms of moral and religious preferences, ethnicity and sexual orientation. The Peace Corps and JOCV volunteers' experiences with indigenous populations showed several limitations to their programs and provided suggestions for the future particularly in the area of indigenous development.

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