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Development in the mountains of confusion: Guaribas under the Zero-Hunger Programme

Marcello, Sorrentino (2011) Development in the mountains of confusion: Guaribas under the Zero-Hunger Programme. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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This thesis is an ethnographic study of the implementation of the Zero-Hunger Programme (PFZ), the Brazilian government’s main development project, in its pilot community, the rural village of Guaribas in Northeast Brazil. It examines the economic, political, and social impact of project policies on local institutions and practices, highlighting the discrepancy between PFZ’s stated goals and its achievements five years after its inception. Despite the conspicuous shortcomings of project initiatives, PFZ intervention has yielded instrumental “side effects” for the Brazilian government, such as the expansion of state capacity and bureaucratic power, and the conversion of social policy into political capital for propaganda. Recent scholarship on development attributes to these “instrumental effects”, which enhance state jurisdiction and social control, the systematic reproduction of development projects in spite of their perceived failures. Similarly, I argue that PFZ is linked to a specific project of governance whose object is ultimately the shaping of human capacities for the production of cooperative subjects. Through the expansion of public education, the calculated use of mass media artefacts, and workshops in “citizenship education”, self-esteem, beauty, and hygiene, PFZ aims at a major reform of its beneficiaries’ skills, attitudes, aspirations, and psychological dispositions. In this sense, PFZ can be described as the instrument of a civilizing enterprise tied to a project of governance. This thesis contributes to the literature on development, which has typically focused on development projects in South Asia, Africa, and Southeast Asia as vehicles for sociopolitical control, by describing novel strategies of a recent development project in a region understudied by development scholarship.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Marcello Sorrentino
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
H Social Sciences > HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare. Criminology
Sets: Departments > Anthropology
Supervisor: Allerton, Catherine

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