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Durham University

Department of Geography

Departmental Research Projects

Publication details

McFarlane, C. Transnational development networks: bringing development and postcolonial approaches into dialogue. The Geographical Journal. 2006;172:35-49.

Author(s) from Durham


This paper explores some of the ways in which a dialogue between development and
postcolonial scholarship might contribute to the theorizing of transnational networks in contemporary development. It does so through consideration of three inter-related
themes: epistemologies, spatialities and ethico-politics. The discussion of epistemologies points to the potential benefit in reworking the analysis of the relationship between structure and agency in networks, whereas the discussion of spatialities focuses attention on the interface between the global and the local. Dialogue between development and postcolonial approaches also creates space for considering the politics and ethics of transnational development networks. In particular, this discussion prompts challenges
around how to ethically research subaltern knowledge in transnational development networks, including how to trace the translation and redeployment of subaltern knowledge through
networks. Consideration of these themes highlights not just overlaps and disjunctures between development and postcolonial approaches, but opportunities for further dialogue
and future research on transnational development networks. To illustrate the points made in the paper, examples are drawn from Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), a transnational network of civil society organizations working with urban poverty.

Department of Geography