Negotiating Religion and Development: Identity Construction and Contention in Bolivia, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Negotiating Religion and Development

Identity Construction and Contention in Bolivia, 1st Edition

By Arnhild Leer-Helgesen


184 pages

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Hardback: 9781138392328
pub: 2019-07-09
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This book argues that relationships between religion and development in faith-based development work are constructed through repeated processes of negotiation. Rather than being a neat and tidy relationship, faith-based development work is complex and multifaceted: an ongoing series of negotiations between theological interpretations and theories of human development; between identities as professional practitioners and as believers; between different religious traditions at local, regional and international levels; and between institutional structures and individual agency.

In particular, the book draws on a deep ethnographic study of Christian faith-based development work in the Bolivian Andes. The case study highlights the importance of seeing theological interpretations as being firmly embedded in local religious and cultural systems involved in a constant process of identity construction. Overall, the book argues that religion should not be seen as homogenous, or either 'good' or 'bad' for development, instead we must recognize that institutional faith-based identities are constructed in many ways, formal, theological, and interpersonal, and any tensions between ‘religious’ and ‘development’ goals must be worked through in an ongoing recognition of that complexity.

This book will be of interest to researchers working in development studies and religious studies, as well as to practitioners and policy makers with an interest in faith-based development work.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

2. Theoretical Perspectives on Religion and Development

3. Religion and Development in Bolivia: Resistance and Decolonisation

4. Constructing a Faith-Based Identity

5. Theological Frameworks for Understanding Development

6. Faith-Based Discourses of Development

7. Practicing Integral Development

8. Unresolved Tensions in Faith-Based Development

9. Conclusion: Negotiations and Contentions of Religion and Development


About the Author

Arnhild Leer-Helgesen is Associate Professor at the Department of Global Development and Planning, University of Agder, Norway, and she received her PhD from VID Specialized University, Norway

About the Series

Routledge Research in Religion and Development

The Routledge Research in Religion and Development series focuses on the diverse ways in which religious values, teachings and practices interact with international development.

While religious traditions and faith-based movements have long served as forces for social innovation, it has only been within the last ten years that researchers have begun to seriously explore the religious dimensions of international development. However, recognising and analysing the role of religion in the development domain is vital for a nuanced understanding of this field. This interdisciplinary series examines the intersection between these two areas, focusing on a range of contexts and religious traditions.

We welcome book proposals on diverse themes such as faith-based development organisations; religious players in health programming; proselytization and development; religion and the environment; gender, religion and development; religion and post-colonialism; and indigenous communities and development.

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

Series Editors:

Matthew Clarke, Deakin University, Australia

Emma Tomalin, University of Leeds, UK

Nathan Loewen, University of Alabama, USA

Editorial board:

Carole Rakodi, University of Birmingham, UK

Gurharpal Singh, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Jörg Haustein, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK

Christopher Duncanson-Hales, Laurentian University, Canada

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / NGOs (Non-Governmental Organizations)
RELIGION / Institutions & Organizations
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries