The Elusive Concept of “Capacity Building” in International Development

February 11, 4:30pm - 6:00pm
Mānoa Campus, BusAd G103 Add to Calendar

Dr. Paige West is the Tow Professor of Anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University. Her most recent book is “From Modern Production to Imagined Primitive: The World of Coffee from Papua New Guinea” (2012, Duke University Press).

The paper Dr. West will present here is part of her larger project on the political ecology of uneven development, accumulation by dispossession, and social reproduction across the island of New Guinea. There are several themes that run throughout the project. The present paper is concerned with the idea of “capacity.” Dr. West argues that any discussion of “capacity”, “capacity building”, or people “lacking capacity” plays a key role in contemporary accumulation by dispossession. She then connects discourses of capacity to images of primitivism and argues that the enduring image of the primitive and its constant reproduction does more than irritate anthropologists. She will argue that its material effects are the dispossession of Papua New Guineans from land, labor, natural resources, money, and rights.

Event Sponsor
Sociology, Mānoa Campus

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Sang-hyoun Pahk, 808-956-7693,

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