Art, Culture and International Development: Humanizing social transformation, 1st Edition (Paperback) book cover

Art, Culture and International Development

Humanizing social transformation, 1st Edition

By John Clammer


158 pages

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Paperback: 9781138024724
pub: 2014-11-25
Hardback: 9781138024717
pub: 2014-11-28
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pub: 2014-11-13
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Culture is not simply an explanation of last resort, but is itself a rich, multifaceted and contested concept and set of practices that needs to be expanded, appreciated and applied in fresh ways if it is to be both valued in itself and to be of use in practical development. This innovative book places culture, specifically in the form of the arts, back at the centre of debates in development studies by introducing new ways of conceptualizing art in relation to development.

The book shows how the arts and development are related in very practical ways – as means to achieve development goals through visual, dramatic, filmic and craft-inspired ways. It advocates not so much culture and development, but rather for the development of culture. Without a cultural content to economic and social transformation the problems found in much development – up-rooting of cultures, loss of art forms, languages and modes of expression and performance – may only accelerate. Paying attention to the development of the arts as the content of development helps to amend this culturally destructive process. Finally, the book argues for the value of the arts in attaining sustainable cultures, promoting poverty alleviation, encouraging self-empowerment, stimulating creativity and the social imagination, which in turn flow back into wider processes of social transformation. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this book ideal to help foster further thinking and debate.

This book is an inspiring read for postgraduate students and researchers in the fields of development studies, cultural studies and sociology of development.


"Art, Culture and International Development offers a profound civilizational critique of contemporary predicament of development and presents us many important resources for development of a new culture of creativity. It challenges us to realize our manifold contemporary poverty in the midst of illusion of affluence on the part of a few—material, cultural and spiritual poverty—and urges us to strive for realizing ‘integral development’ in self and society in which arts in all their myriad manifestations—visual, crafts, literature, painting, and theatre—play an important role."Ananta Kumar Giri, Madras Institute of Development Studies, India

"John Clammer brings fresh air to the field of development. The author proposes art and its transformative potential as a way to improve the living conditions of the poorest. Therefore, art, once a stronghold of the elites, would become a powerful resource for development. Clammer reinstates the expressive and creative capacity of vulnerable groups as a means of exploring alternative paths to the longed, but rarely achieved "well-being". This perspective on development -a field still hegemonized by hard data, and the logics of economics-is optimistic, and especially humane."Marian Moya, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina

"Because of the provocative argument of including culture into holistic understandings of growth and wellbeing, this text is an inspirational account of what truly human approaches to social development can be and, alongside other texts in the ‘Rethinking Development’ series is a recommended reading for both seasoned practitioners and development studies students alike."Jacqueline Priego-Hernandez, LSE Review of Books

"The book serves the purpose of demonstrating the potential influence of re-imagining cultural expression through arts. The case studies and wide variety of empirical examples are suitable for advanced students and practitioners. It should also find a wide audience in those with an interest in global artistic production."Margath A. Walker, Department of Geography and Geosciences University of Louisville, USA

Table of Contents

Preface 1. Art, Culture and Development: What Are the Connections? 2. Art as Social Enterprise: The Creative Sector in Relation to Poverty, Policy and Social Development 3. The Arts of Sustainability: Architecture, Design and Public Art 4. Performing Development: Theatres of the Oppressed and Beyond 5. Visualizing Development: Film, Photography, Representation 6. Writing Development: Literatures of Critique and Transformation 7. Arts Education for Development and Social Justice 8. Art, Culture and Integral Development

About the Author

John Clammer is Visiting Professor of Development Sociology at the United Nations University, Tokyo where he also runs the film and art programmes, and is Adjunct professor of Art and Society at Kanda University of International Studies and the International University of Japan.

About the Series

Rethinking Development

Rethinking Development offers accessible and thought-provoking overviews of contemporary topics in international development and aid. Providing original empirical and analytical insights, the books in this series push thinking in new directions by challenging current conceptualizations and developing new ones.  

This is a dynamic and inspiring series for all those engaged with today’s debates surrounding development issues, whether they be students, scholars, policy makers and practitioners internationally. These interdisciplinary books provide an invaluable resource for discussion in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in development studies as well as in anthropology, economics, politics, geography, media studies and sociology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd (

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Development / Sustainable Development
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / Environmental Policy