Here in Comhlámh we find it useful to think and talk in terms of ‘story’. Each of us carries a story or stories about what ‘development’ is for example – and this will extend to our stories about where ‘development’ is needed and how it should come about. And what about the collective story? What kind of development is being promoted ‘out there’? Do we stop to think about this or is the path assumed? Is there a single development trajectory? Whose ideas of progress are prevailing? Whose idea of ‘better’?
While we carry these stories, we seldom stop to think about them. Where did we pick them up from? How did they grow? Even the terms we use in our stories are up for question e.g. classification of countries into ‘developed’, ‘less developed’, ‘developing’. Such classifications are by no means clear-cut and are loaded with dangerous judgements of worth.
There is a big story we have been telling ourselves in terms of development, progress, human evolution where a group of people are told that they are the leaders, that they have more knowledge, that they are developed, and they can dispense help, education, and aid to others while another group is told that they lack knowledge, education, they need to catch up with development and that they are backward. We need to start unpacking this and asking ‘who defines this?’ in who’s name? for whose benefit? (Andreotti, 2016)
In this section, we invite you to join us in thinking a little more deeply about development. Can we make the ‘big story’ (described by Andreotti above) less coherent? Can we open up space for new meanings to fill in where old ones are breaking down? Can we tell a better story? (Brewer, 2015). Read on for more…