Thursday, 2 December 1999

From "Imagining a Post-Development Era? Critical Thought, Development and Social"

By Arturo Escobar (Social Text, No. 31/32, Third World and Post-Colonial Issues (1992) pp. 47-8)

To conclude, we may postulate the existence of three major discourses in Latin America with the potential to articulate - and are actually articulating in many cases - forms of struggle:

1. The discourse of the fulfillment of the democratic imaginary (including "needs," economic and social justice, human rights, class, gender and ethnic equality, etc.). This first possibility originates in the egalitarian discourses of the West, although it does not necessarily have to follow the West's experience. This first discourse offers the possibility for material and institutional gains and the radicalization of democracy towards more pluralist societies.

2. The discourse of difference, including cultural difference, alterity, autonomy and the right of each society to self-determination. This second possibility originates in a variety of sources: anti-imperialist struggles, those of ethnic groups and women, the challenge to European ethnocentrism and conventional epistemologies, revisions of history, etc. The potential here is for the strategic release and furthering of some of these struggles.

3. Anti-development discourses proper, which originate in the current crisis of development and the work of grassroots groups. The potential here is for more radical transformations of the modern capitalist order and the search for alternative ways of organizing societies and economies, of satisfying needs, of healing and living.

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