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Development, Geometry of

Hemant Shah and Karin Gwinn Wilkins

Subject Politics
Communication Studies » Communication and Development

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x


Geometries of development refer to the spaces, shapes, and arrangements underlying the idea and practice of development. Similar to a classic definition of “geometry” as a physical arrangement of forms, discourses of development describe the arrangement of various actors within a global system. As used within development discourse, geometries of development describe the relationship among three elements: spaces, key points, and vectors. Boundaries demarcate the “edges” of various kinds of spatially based actors in a global system – such as nation-states, regions, and transnational configurations. Points refer to key institutional sites where development policies and programs are formulated and implemented, such as government ministries and intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), but also where policy may be resignified and resisted (e.g., social movements, nongovernmental organizations [NGOs], local governing bodies). Vectors are linkages among institutional and spatial actors characterized by directions of the flow of resources and benefits and by the strengths of the exercise of power. These relationships help create divisions of various kinds among actors and determine the overall shape of the structure of development. Thus, in the geometry of development framework, structural shape is somewhat contingent and fluid, created by the spatial boundaries and coordinates of actors ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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