Victoria Lawson                                                          Fall 2008

Office: Smith 303-D                                                   e-mail:

Tel: 543-5196





This course focuses on how we might understand intensifying inequality, across the Americas and across the globe?  What does a geographic approach contribute to understanding development processes?  Starting from development geography, we will pose the question “what’s missing in development theory?’ with a focus on the subjects, places and scales that have been excluded from particular theorizations of development.  We will also pose questions about which development and whose development?  Our focus will be on a critical reading of development theory, paying particular attention to Latin American theorizations, and empirical experiences with development.  However, this is not a course about Latin America so much as it is a course about critical development geography.  We will also think through the challenges of producing development knowledge under ethical and responsible relations to people with whom we work. 


Course Readings:


Lawson, V.  2007.  Making Development Geography.  Hodder Arnold Press.


A course reading packet will be available for purchase at Rams Copy and Print on the Ave and will also be on reserve in Odegaard Undergraduate Library.



Course Requirements:


1) Students are expected to attend all lectures and to complete all assigned readings.


2) There will be a take-home midterm exam, handed out in class worth 30% of your final course grade:


 Thursday Oct 30th (6th week) and due Tuesday Nov 4th     


3) Students will participate in group presentations on the readings in Thursday class sessions.  You will participate in a group discussion to the rest of the class, and will complete a report on that reading critique (three pages maximum).  You will be graded on quality of your participation in the group effort and the presentation (15% of course grade) and on your report (15% of course grade).


4) Students will complete a ten-page review essay by the Thursday Dec 4th (11th week last class session), worth 20% of the final course grade.  This review essay will discuss the four readings that have been most influential for your thinking.  Lawson will provide a series of questions to guide the format and content of your review.


5) Students will complete an in-class final examination, worth 20% of course grade:


 Final is Wednesday Dec 10th from 10:30- 12:20pm



Important Dates


Tuesday Nov 11th Veteran’s Day – no class


Thursday Nov 28-29th – thanksgiving holiday


** Thursday Dec 4th (last day of our class) paper due in class **






I. Introduction


1. Development: Concepts and Contexts


2. Critical Development Geographies: For each major stream of development thought we will examine:


i)               ideas and assumptions;

ii)             the (geo)political context for that approach;

iii)            the spaces and scales privileged and erased;

iv)            the subjects privileged and erased.



II. Currents of Development Theory


1. Economic Growth and Modernization Approaches:



2. Dependency and Development:



3. Political-Economy Approaches



III. Poststructural Re-workings of Development


Feminist and Anti-Racist analyses of development


Anti-Development Struggles: Responses from the Global South






Week 1:


Development Concepts and Geography


Lawson, V.  2007.  Making Development Geography, preface and chapters 1& 2.


Esteva, G.  1992.  ‘Development’ The Development Dictionary.



Contemporary Currents in Development Theory


Weeks 2 and 3:


Economic Growth, Modernization and Neo-liberalism


Lawson, V.  2007.  Making Development Geography, Chapter 3


World Bank Development Report, 1999/2000, Overview and Chapter 1.


Ferguson, J.  1990. The anti-politics machine’ Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, chapter 2.


George, S.  1999.  ‘A short history of neoliberalism’ Conference on Economic Sovereignty in a Globalizing World (


Escobar, A.  1995.  ‘Chapter 2: The Problematization of Poverty’ in Encountering Development.


Shresthsa, N.  1995.  ‘Becoming a Development Category’ in J. Crush (ed) The Power of Development.  



Weeks 4 and 5:


Dependency Thought


Lawson, V.  2007.  Making Development Geography, chapter 4 pages 108-127.


Furtado, C.  1970.  ‘Economic Development of Latin America’ in Promise of Development, P. Klaren and T. Bossert (eds), 1986 edition.


Kay, C.  1989.  Latin American Theories of Development and Underdevelopment.  London: Routeledge.  Pages 25-41 for structuralist arguments and pages 125-139 for discussion of the range of reformist and revolutionary dependency theories.


George, S.  1997.  ‘How the Poor Develop the Rich’ in Rahnema and Bawtree, The Post-Development Reader.


Hershberg, E. et. Al. 2003.  ‘Rethinking Development Series’ NACLA Report on the Americas XXXVII (3): 20-33.



Weeks 6, 7 and 8:


Political-Economy Analyses of Development


Lawson, V.  2007.  Making Development Geography, chapter 4, pages 120-161.


Harvey, D.  1985. 'The Geopolitics of Capitalism', in Social Relations and Spatial Structures, Gregory, D. and J. Urry, eds., Chapter 7.  London: Macmillan.


Water, INC.  2004.  Report on the Americas, NACLA.  ‘The Struggle for Latin America’s Water’, ‘Water Privatization in Buenos Aires’ and ‘Running Water: Participatory Management in Brazil’. 


George, S.  1989.  ‘How Much is $1 Trillion?’, ‘The Money-Mongers’ and ‘Latin America: Going to Extremes’ in A Fate Worse than Debt.


Mullings, B. 1999: Sides of the same coin? Coping and resistance among Jamaican data-entry operators.  Annals of the Association of American Geographers 89(2), 290-311.



Poststructural Re-workings of Development


Weeks 9, 10 and 11:


Feminist and Anti-racist Analyses of Development


Lawson, V.  2007.  Making Development Geography, chapters 5 and 6.


Illich, Ian.  1997.  ‘Development as Planned Poverty’ in Rahnema, M. and V. Bawtree, (eds) The Post-Development Reader.


Nelson, L.  2004.  ‘Topographies of Citizenship: Purhepechan Mexican women claiming political subjectivities’ Gender, Place and Culture 11(2), 163-187.


Nagar, R. and A. Lock Swarr.  2005.  ‘Organizing from the Margins: Grappling with “Empowerment” in India and South Africa’ in Companion to Feminist Geography.  Lise Nelson and Joni Seager (eds).


Galleano, E.  1997,  ‘To Be Like Them’ in Rahnema, M. and V. Bawtree, (eds) The Post-Development Reader.


Arenas, L.C.  2007.   ‘The U’wa Community’s Battle against the Oil Companies: A Local Struggle Turned Global’ in B. Sousa-Santos.  Another Knowledge is Possible.