25 April Yi-Fu Talk – From the U.S. South to the Global South: Practicing Development at Home

Mona Domosh, Dartmouth University, Geography Department

Drawing on a range of works that extend from gendered historical analyses of colonialism to critical histories of development, and based on archival research in Alabama, Arkansas, and Mississippi, I argue in this talk that what we now call international development – a form of hegemony different from but related to colonialism – needs to be understood not only as a geopolitical tool of the cold war, but also as a technique of governance that took shape within the realm of the domestic and through a racialized gaze. I do so by tracing some of the key elements of the United States’ international development practices in the postwar era to a different time and place: the American South, a region considered ‘undeveloped’ in the first decades of the 20th century, and the agricultural extension practices that targeted the rural farm home and farm women, particularly African-American women. Thus I am able to interrogate two relatively unexamined elements that are key to understanding the making of American international development: that much of its early focus was on governing through biopolitical practices of the domestic (food preparation, health, and sanitation), and that those practices were based on the agricultural extension work of the United States Department of Agriculture in the American South.

Friday@ 3:30pm - Room 180 Science Hall