1st Edition

Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development

By Lata Narayanaswamy Copyright 2017
    270 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 13 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    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).

    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?


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

    "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

    "Gender, Power and Knowledge Development is based on the author’s doctoral research, shining a critical light both on how the Knowledge for Development (K4D) paradigm set out in the World Bank’s 1998 World Development Report defined such knowledge, and on how it has since been enthusiastically promoted in permutations of K4D – such as ICT for Development (ICT4D), Communication for Development (C4D), and Knowledge Management for Development (KMDev). The book’s origins ensure that the author’s approach is both thoroughly researched and forensic in its detail, and its critical contribution is to disrupt lazy assumptions that technical solutions laced with good intentions will ever bring about the kinds of structural changes required to achieve and sustain gender equality." - Deborah Eade, Freelance writer and editor, France