Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development

1st Edition

By Lata Narayanaswamy


270 pages | 13 B/W Illus.

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Knowledge-for-development is under-theorised and under-researched within development studies, but as a set of policy objectives it is thriving within development practice. Donors and other agencies are striving to improve the flow of information within and between decision-makers and so-called ‘poor and marginalized groups’ in order to promote economic and social development, including the empowerment of women. Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development questions the assumptions and practice of the knowledge-for-development industry.

Using a qualitative, multi-site ethnographical study of a Northern-based gender information service and its ‘beneficiaries’ in India, the book queries the utility of the knowledge paradigm itself and the underlying assumption that a knowledge deficit exists in the Global South. It questions the value of practices designed to address this presumed deficit that seek to increase information without addressing the specific problems of the knowledge systems being targeted for support. After reviewing the evidence, the book recommends that international organisations, governments and practitioners move away from the belief that information intermediaries can employ progressive correctives to ‘tinker at the edges’ and thus resolve the shortcomings of on-going attempts to use knowledge alone as a driver of development.

Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development will be of great interest to researchers, students in development studies, gender studies, and communication studies as well as INGOs, donor agencies and groups engaged in information for development (i4D), ICT for development (ICT4D), Tech4Dev, knowledge mobilization and knowledge-for-development (K4D).


"A brave intervention in the sadly under-theorized arena of knowledge diffusion in international development! Debunking myths about the 'Southern Women’s NGO' as an agent for diffusing (disembedded) information for development, Narayanaswamy underscores how intersectional power shapes the movement and work of knowledge. The book calls for facilitating agency through listening in dialogic context-sensitive conversations." - Richa Nagar, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, USA

"In this important book, Lata Narayanaswamy offers a hugely impressive analysis of gender, power and knowledge in international development. This exceptionally well written book critically explodes some of the comfortable assumptions made about promoting Southern voices, translating material, working with the ‘grassroots’ and ensuring user-friendly ICT access for facilitating improved development outcomes." - Emma Mawdsley, Reader in Human Geography, University of Cambridge, UK

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction: problematising knowledge as a driver of development
  2. Knowledge for development as an exercise in power
  3. The knowledge-brokering business: NGOs and feminisms in development
  4. Anatomy of a knowledge broker
  5. ‘The language is difficult’: interrogating progressive information-production processes
  6. ‘Very clearly there is no strategy’: interrogating progressive information-dissemination practices
  7. ‘If you want to start a new project, then you pray that funders are on the same wavelength!’: interrogating Southern-based knowledge intermediaries and systems
  8. Conclusion: reflecting on the study: what have we learned?

About the Author

Lata Narayanaswamy is a Lecturer in International Development in the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Leeds, UK.

About the Series

Routledge Explorations in Development Studies

The series features innovative and original research at the regional and global scale. Its scope extends to scholarly works that take an interdisciplinary and comparative approach.

In terms of theory and method, rather than basing itself on any one orthodoxy, the series draws broadly on the tool kit of the social sciences in general, emphasizing comparison, the analysis of the structure and processes, and the application of qualitative and quantitative methods.

The series welcomes submissions from established authors in the field as well as from junior authors. To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

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