This presidential address was delivered at the 122nd annual meeting of the American Historical Association, held in Washington, DC, in 2008.

Developing Inequality

In 1784, Count Louis-Philippe de Ségur journeyed overland from France to Russia to take up a post as minister plenipotentiary in the court of Catherine II. He left the following description of his travels from Prussia to Poland:

In traversing the eastern part of the estates of the king of Prussia, it seems that one leaves the theatre where there reigns a nature embellished by the efforts of art and a perfected civilization …

But when one enters Poland, one believes one has left Europe entirely, and the gaze is struck by a new spectacle: an immense country almost totally covered with fir trees always green, but always sad … a poor population, enslaved; dirty villages; cottages little different from savage huts; everything makes one think one has been moved back ten centuries.1

In 1847, the future president of Argentina, Domingo Faustino Sarmiento, wrote a chronicle of his visit to the United States and spared no praise in describing life in the northern states, declaring the republic “strong and ascendant like a new star in the firmament.” But he had this to say as his steamboat neared the lower Mississippi:

The approach to New Orleans is marked by visible changes in the type of cultivation and the architecture of the buildings. Plantations come into view, with rows of wooden cottages on them, all of the same shape and size, showing that free choice did not guide their construction … Those uniform little houses are, in fact, the homes of the slaves … Alas slavery, the deep, incurable sore that threatens gangrene to the robust body of the Union! … A racial war of extermination will come within a century, or else a mean, black, backward nation will be found alongside a white one—the most powerful and cultivated on earth!2

In 1920, Wickliffe Rose, a public health specialist with the Rockefeller Foundation, made the following remark in a report on his visit to Brazil:

The northern boundary of the State of São Paulo divides Brazil into two sections presenting contrasts, with respect to populations, as sharp as those between Mexico and the United States.3

Historians today, reading these past depictions of sudden and dramatic shifts in levels of wealth, morality, and civilization experienced in moving from one contiguous location to another, generally acknowledge that we cannot treat these accounts as straightforward sketches of social and material inequalities. We know that such chroniclers routinely heightened contrasts between the society they regarded as “civilized” or “modern” and its more “backward” or “primitive” Other, and tended to evaluate standards of living in those “Other lands” in ways that reflected invidious cultural judgments and racialized hierarchies of civilization and barbarism.

Our way of reading such comparative accounts is largely a product of the various “turns”—linguistic, cultural, postmodern—that have transformed the discipline of history since the 1980s. Just a few decades ago, most historians would have treated these same quotes as “snapshots” of uneven development and its consequences, and would have cited them in discussions of emerging spatial inequalities and the problem of persistent poverty. Earlier studies, written in the heyday of developmentalism, often treated poverty and inequality as self-evident, as categories that could be left largely unexamined and undefined. Many scholars simply assumed that all “poorer” nations needed to become more modern, and spent little time reflecting on what they meant by modernity.4 Today we are much more likely to view these historical accounts of inequality as being about the social construction of “poverty” or as reflecting deep-seated Eurocentric judgments about proper modes of living. Rather than see these accounts as providing us with a glimpse of material inequalities, we read them as representations of cultural difference.

In most respects, I would enthusiastically endorse this shift in our ways of reading historical evidence, and our more careful attention to the discursive power of language and categories; I would hardly suggest reverting to an earlier paradigm that treated uneven development as an economic process that was somehow autonomous from the cultural meanings conveyed in these accounts. But I do find it worrisome that our current approaches seem to leave little room for a historical discussion of the origins and causes of spatial inequalities. Certainly, the problem of geographically based disparities has not gone away. Despite ongoing debates about how to determine a global standard of living, most scholars of globalization would agree with political theorist Charles R. Beitz that “we live in a world whose massive inequalities dwarf those found within the developed societies … This is most conspicuously true of inequalities in standards of living—measured, for example, in average per capita purchasing power, life expectancy, and under-five child malnutrition. Contrary to what one might think, these inequalities are mostly greater today than 50 or 100 years ago, and there is reason to believe that the gap will continue to grow.”5 To make matters worse, while globalization has not helped to equalize standards of living, it has created material longings that are ever more likely to go unsatisfied. In the words of historian Achille Mbembe, contemporary African experience involves “an economy of desired goods that are known, that may sometimes be seen, that one wants to enjoy, but to which one will never have material access.”6

What I fear is that historians, by banishing the question of material inequality as such from our conversations, may be reinforcing, by default, a sense that certain regions of the world are stuck in a condition of hopelessness, and forever excluded from the charmed circle of modernity. Again, this pessimism represents a sharp shift away from the era when “development” was the principal paradigm for thinking historically about spatial inequalities. My key concerns, then, are to consider why the development paradigm has fallen on such hard times, what we lose as a result of its demise, and how we can still engage with the problem of spatial inequalities in the context of current interpretive frameworks. That is, how can we bring the methods of the various “new” and “post” historical paradigms to bear on issues of an economic or material nature?

From the often bleak perspective of the early twenty-first century, it now seems relatively easy to historicize the paradigm of development, with its optimistic forecast of prosperity for all. Development, far from being a natural offshoot of capitalist expansion, was the product of a specific historical moment, a mere half-century interlude of Cold War and decolonization, when it was widely assumed that such spatially organized inequalities would be addressed, corrected, and eventually erased through the proper modes of government and technical intervention. Although first formalized by economists, development was also an idea that “traveled” easily across the disciplines, including history. From the 1950s on, historians—especially those, like me, who chose to study regions of the world conventionally characterized as “underdeveloped” or “less developed” or, even more euphemistically, “developing”—routinely crafted their scholarly inquiries and historical interpretations with the question of development and underdevelopment in mind. Likewise, the major “theories of development”—with their emphasis on “change over time” and models of economic progress based on historical evidence—were by their very nature engaged with historical research and interpretation. While other schools of economic thought drew on ahistorical assumptions about human nature or psychology, or privileged mathematical models with little reference to external reality, developmental economists based their policy recommendations on historical cases and processes in specific places and times.7

For historians of Latin America and Africa, the two most influential schools of development were modernization theory and dependency theory, with the former emphasizing the need for poorer nations to recapitulate (in accelerated form) the journeys to prosperity of the wealthier nations, and the latter insisting that poorer, semi-colonized nations could achieve prosperity and economic autonomy only by following very different paths. Both of these schools of developmentalist thought drew from, and had considerable impact on, the work of historians, especially during the height of the Cold War, with modernization ascendant through the late 1960s, to be widely displaced in the 1970s by dependency theory.8

Of course, not every historian embraced one or another theory of development or underdevelopment with unalloyed enthusiasm. The “one size fits all” approach of modernization theory quickly produced an army of historically minded critics, and the historical narrative supporting dependency theory similarly came under attack by scholars arrayed across the political spectrum. By the 1980s, neo-Marxist historians were challenging Immanuel Wallerstein’s highly influential conception of the modern world system, with its division of the globe into the core, semi-periphery, and periphery—a scheme that rendered the particular histories of the non-core regions of the world inconsequential wrinkles in the fabric of imperial hegemony. Not only did this make history beyond “The West” of marginal significance, but it also appeared to contradict the ample evidence being uncovered in archives indicating constant and profound modification, negotiation, even transformation of imperial projects in the so-called periphery, as memorably argued by Steve J. Stern in his critique of Wallerstein.9

Other critiques emerged as historians of Latin America began to comb the archives to make sense of the post-independence, nineteenth-century (dis)order, with scholars such as Paul Gootenberg destabilizing one of the crucial historical pillars of dependency theory—the claim that, following independence, a dogmatic economic liberalism moved the new Latin American ruling elites everywhere to open the ports, whereupon the British flooded the fledgling economies with cheap manufactured goods that wiped out the nascent local industries and ensured that the independent Latin American nations entered the global economy as dependent exporters of primary products rather than global competitors. Contrary to the dependency narrative, many new nations maintained protectionist measures, and foreign merchants found the fabled Latin American markets initially disappointing.10

A new wave of archival research provided the sinew for this and other critiques of developmentalism and dependency theory. But unless one labors under the illusion that documents speak for themselves, and new sources alone are enough to explain new interpretations, we need more than that to understand the rapidly multiplying critiques of the established narratives of Latin American development/underdevelopment. Rather than incontrovertible empirical evidence, I would argue that it was the long 1980s—routinely referred to as the “Lost Decade” among Latin American scholars and commentators—that explains the increasingly convoluted and pessimistic accounts of “how Latin America fell behind,” to quote one book’s title.11 To be sure, dependency theory had hardly offered a cheerful view of Latin America’s past or present (unlike the universalizing “everyone can do it” approach of modernization theory), but its original conceptualizers—most of them Latin American social scientists—always constructed their interpretations with a view to a future defined by either revolution or structural reform. In effect, dependency theory, as with previous theories of development and underdevelopment, did not say “never,” but only “not yet.” The historical critiques that emerged in the 1980s, by contrast, had no such future heaven in mind. Well before the collapse of “actually existing socialism” in Eastern Europe or the transformation of post-Mao China into a weird hybrid capitalism, the transparent weakness of the Cuban economy and its utter dependence upon a tottering Soviet system had made it difficult to imagine a happier economic future. As one nation after another drifted into deep recession, as standards of living almost uniformly declined, as foreign investment began fleeing the region, Latin America seemed to be running the risk of becoming marginal to the world economy at a moment when most Latin Americans, anchored to an urban economy, could not seek survival in subsistence production. Under such bleak and unsettling circumstances, scholars no longer seemed persuaded that they could summarize the historical origins of Latin America’s underdevelopment in a couple of quick sentences about the colonial legacy or cultural lag or neocolonial exploitation. Furthermore, the new social movements that emerged from the wreckage of earlier political projects inspired greater scholarly attention to the categories of race and gender, and in turn generated new critiques of the Eurocentric concept of progress.12

In short, the crises of the 1980s catalyzed a more radical, thoroughgoing, root-and-branch offensive against the very idea of development. Among Latin Americanists, the work most readily associated with this radical rejection of “development”—now a discourse between quotes, rather than an actual historical process—was anthropologist Arturo Escobar’s highly provocative 1995 monograph Encoun-tering Development. Informed by Michel Foucault’s idea of governmentality and Edward Said’s critique of Orientalism, Encountering Development laid out the lineaments of what was to become the dominant postmodern position on development, portraying it as primarily a way for First World “experts” to “invent and manage” the Third World. Escobar excoriates developmentalists of every stripe for representations of the so-called “developing world” as landscapes of unrelieved poverty, misery, and backwardness, and for setting up Western standards as the universal benchmarks for economic, political, and cultural success.13

Escobar’s critique is a blunt instrument; his chronological frame is a flattened, unvarying Cold War context, and he makes no significant distinction among different theories and strategies of development. Nor would he regard it as necessary to draw such fine distinctions, since he deduces, from the very nature of “developmental discourse,” that its effects will be to expand the disciplinary power of technocrats and other experts, and to reduce the resources—material, political, or cultural—of its target populations. Or to quote the more metaphorical language of South Asian scholar Ashis Nandy, “For development economists, the Third World and its poverty are enabling concepts, which allow them to ply their trade as the resident doctors of our times, specializing in what is allegedly a culturally inherited but curable pathology.” In light of this, Nandy argues that “development,” far from being a failed project, “has established itself as one of the few genuine universals of our time.”14 His anti-development polemics, rather than being laments about the failures of development, denounce it as an intrinsically evil and destructive process, one that despoils cultures and deepens deprivation, a process whose very successes—that is, the expansion of the disciplinary force of the market and technocrats—are the problem. From this perspective, Frederick Cooper’s observation that emancipatory movements in Africa and elsewhere used developmental discourse to demand greater rights and dignity and “lay claim to a globally defined standard of equity” can be dismissed as beside the point, since it is yet more evidence of the hegemony of development and the subjection of subalterns to its disciplinary power.15

The broader shifts in the field of history that are encapsulated in the phrases “the cultural turn” and “the linguistic turn” further relegated “development” as a way of thinking about historical processes to the dustbin of history—or at least of the historical profession. All major theories of development, whether liberal or Marxist or some variant thereof, rely on teleological assumptions, and have as their principal rationale something that could be called “progress”—concepts that raised red flags in the wake of the cultural turn. Historical narratives of development also proceed from explicit and identifiable systems of causation that are yet another target of criticism from postmodern historians who renounce positivist, scientistic approaches to historical analysis. Forsaking teleological reasoning, on the one hand, and positivism, on the other, historians following new historiographical trends have renounced the conventional approaches to questions of material inequality, and by and large have turned away from “the economy” as an explicit object of study.16

All things considered, it is perfectly understandable, perhaps even “overdetermined,” that a generation of historians infused with critical ideas about the role of the West, about the postcolonial condition, about race and gender difference, would refuse to take up the issue of economic development, with its highly problematic historical pedigree. Again, even theories of development intended to challenge liberal/modernizing narratives of progress and productivity typically cannot avoid the linear thinking that envisions a gradual transition from backwardness to modernity, or from precapitalist to fully capitalist formations, or from dependent development to autonomous development. It is a challenge merely to write about economic processes without stumbling into such linguistic pitfalls as “lags,” “falling behind,” or “lateness,” or to avoid giving a reader the sense that wealthier, more economically “successful” nations are briskly marching ahead, advancing into the future, while poorer, stagnating, “failed” nations or regions either are mired in the past or are unable somehow to get on the entrance ramp to the highway of economic progress.17

To be sure, developmentalism did not invent such discursive practices. As we saw in the opening quotes, the tendency to associate poor and rustic living conditions with the alleged backwardness of certain populations predates by well more than a century the emergence of the discourse of development. Development, as a formal concept, is acultural; it assumes that, provided with enough capital, technology, and training, any population can become more productive and “more developed”—in some sense, it is the opposite of the colonial civilizing mission with its insistence that long, intense, and perhaps even permanent tutelage would be required to raise levels of civilization and morality among the colonized.18 Yet development, like any new discourse, presented itself as a “rupture,” a break with past forms of knowledge, while it absorbed and built upon, without acknowledgment, previous discourses and practices. Thus, embedded in the universalizing thrust of development were Eurocentric ideas about modernity and productivity, so that in practice, cultural traits perceived as non-Western quickly became classified as hindrances to economic development (or in Nandy’s more lurid phrasing, pathologies to be cured).

The highly questionable uses of culture in development discourse tell us a great deal about why new cultural historians would shrink from drawing any connections between cultural and economic processes. Not that there are not scholars still willing to adopt the conventions of an older cultural history: in his 1998 book The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, David S. Landes asserted that “If we have learned anything from the history of economic development, it is that culture makes all the difference … what counts is work, thrift, honesty, patience, tenacity.”19 Self-congratulatory statements such as this from scholars of Western culture are especially useful for understanding why the new cultural history has eschewed both essentializing approaches to culture and mechanistic notions of causation—why historians have turned away from the dubious claim that “culture makes all the difference” to exploring the construction of cultural difference.20 Yet even though some of us may not like his particular answer, can we simply turn away from the question that Landes is at least willing to consider—to paraphrase his subtitle, Why are some so rich and some so poor?

About the time that Landes’s book appeared, I attended the biennial Colombian national history meetings in Bogotá and participated in a panel to discuss the implications of the shift from the new social to the new cultural history. The room was packed, and most of the questions were sympathetic or critical in a friendly sort of way, but one young man, addressing himself to me (the sole representative of North American academia on the panel), asked with some hostility whether I thought the eager rush to cultural history indicated, in fact, a desire by historians in richer nations to avoid thinking about the more uncomfortable question of material inequalities and their historical origins. I responded by assuring him that new cultural historians were quite keen to challenge older ideas about modernity and backwardness, to reveal the ideological constructions embedded in supposedly “natural” hierarchies, and to explore the way race and gender have been used to narrow access to citizenship and economic rights. At the time I thought his question intellectually naïve, and I believed that I had answered his challenge more than adequately. But many conferences and questions later, this one has not faded from my memory, in part because I feel, in retrospect, that my answer was not entirely persuasive, but rather a little evasive. Perhaps more honest would have been some version of the following observation made by Margaret Jacob about “asking unfashionable questions”:

For my generation of historians … the big questions in Western or world history became strangely unfashionable. None is bigger than the question of what were the factors that made Western hegemony possible. Indeed, the very notion of Western hegemony, of the domination of much of the world by Western political or economic power from roughly 1800 to 1970, may be said to be so fraught with anger or guilt as to be almost untouchable.21

As a Latin Americanist, I might have approached the issue of evasion somewhat differently, for the truth is, as long as dependency theory held sway, as long as one could claim that some nations were poor because the rich nations, from a position of unfair advantage, had made them that way, historians of a critical bent did not shy away from the question of why some were so rich and some so poor. Precisely because dependency theory lends itself so well to certain claims for social justice, there are Latin Americanist scholars, especially in cultural and literary studies, who still reiterate the well-worn arguments of dependency theory as a political discourse. But most historians either are discomfited by the deployment of a discourse that has been challenged from so many different angles, or see dependency as having exhausted its analytical usefulness, or have simply moved on to other questions. To be sure, the new cultural history provides ample tools, indeed an entire tool chest, to dismantle explanations such as the one offered by David Landes for why some nations are rich and some are poor. Those same tools, however, provide little leverage for building alternative explanations, in part because that very enterprise would be regarded with scholarly skepticism as an attempt to replace one metanarrative with another.

Do we, then, have to resolve the question by, in effect, making it unaskable? Or are there ways in which a postmodern approach to this question can offer more than just a means to challenge Eurocentric metanarratives of economic development? Can we get beyond our current treatment of the economy either as a self-regulating sphere or as somehow subsumed under the sphere of culture and politics? Deconstructing the Eurocentric assumptions that underpin the concept of the periphery or of underdevelopment is a worthy pursuit, but it does not necessarily help us understand how, historically, those images and ideas got translated into economic advantages for some, and disadvantages for others.22 By failing to address the history of economic inequality, we thus run the risk of having a great deal to say about the genealogy of race, class, and gender discourses that undergird hegemonic power, but of having very little to say about the material disparities that are probably the most distressing consequences of the hierarchies they produce.

My current work on regionalism in Brazil has made me painfully aware of the need to deconstruct narratives of progress that attribute a region’s economic success to the sterling cultural traits and qualities of a particular population, while simultaneously representing those peoples in less successful economic areas as flawed and failed human beings. But it has also made me realize that it is insufficient simply to declare with Foucault that discourse is practice, and thereby to assume that we have adequately addressed the relationship between those narratives and economic trends. In my research I have focused specifically on the paulistas—residents of the city and state of São Paulo—and the historical, political, and cultural discourses that helped galvanize an elaborate regional project for economic growth.23 These same discourses also served to justify the unequal distribution of material rewards and political power, as well as the construction of São Paulo’s internecine “Other,” the Nordeste (Northeast), a region widely regarded as among the most impoverished in Latin America. The uneven developments that produced a dualistic image of “The Two Brazils,” to quote a famous study, are hardly peculiar to Brazil, or to Latin America.24 Not only are stark regional disparities a feature of many poorer nations, but there are some nations whose very identity has been built on regional contrasts, with one typically more urban, industrial, orderly, and modern, the other more rural, agricultural, and (implicitly or explicitly) backward and lawless. Outside Brazil, Italy may be the most salient example—so much so that a recent collection of essays on Italy’s “Southern Question” is provocatively subtitled Orientalism in One Country.25

São Paulo, Brazil’s “Northern Italy,” figures prominently in the literature on development because its economic trajectory defies one of the iron rules of early dependency theory. According to the first wave of dependentistas, it was precisely the connection to the developed capitalist world that produced underdevelopment, so that a Third World export economy, despite an initial flush of illusory prosperity, would become even more dependent and underdeveloped as a result of its integration into the world economy.26 Since São Paulo’s initial economic surge dated from the coffee boom of the mid-nineteenth century, when large plantations, worked by African or creole slaves and exporting to the world market, spread throughout major portions of paulista territory, the dependency narrative would forecast deepened underdevelopment as the likely outcome. Yet the paulista planters managed to use public revenues to modulate world coffee prices through a program of price supports, and to subsidize massive European immigration in the aftermath of slave emancipation to secure a reliably cheap labor force. By the 1920s, São Paulo was far and away Brazil’s most productive agricultural region, but even more startling, it was rapidly consolidating its position as Latin America’s leading industrial center.27

Also by the 1920s, paulista politicians, journalists, and intellectuals were engaged in the strenuous ideological labor of constructing narratives to explain the region’s peculiar aptitude for modernity. While a fortuitous coincidence of market trends, exceptionally fertile soil, a declining northeastern sugar economy that made slave labor available for the coffee zones, and a favorable political conjuncture would be one way to explain the transformation of this colonial backwater into Brazil’s economic powerhouse, one can easily see why such a narrative would have little appeal for the heralds of regional chauvinism. Yet another possible narrative would have been one that mapped a very different route to modernity from that associated with Europe’s rise to economic supremacy, one that acknowledged the decisive contribution of plantation slavery to São Paulo’s initial surge, and the planters’ use of decentralized political power to underwrite their enterprises with public funds. But the drawbacks of such a narrative are also immediately obvious; it would have linked São Paulo’s modernity to an economic formation then almost universally regarded as backward, would have identified its transformative labor force with people of African descent, and would have attributed the elite’s success to political muscle rather than personal virtue. From the vantage point of a predominantly white upper class, in a nation with a precarious claim to membership in the community of civilized nations, neither luck nor enslaved labor nor oligarchic privilege would offer an especially attractive motif for the narrative of São Paulo’s rise to dominance.

What did emerge in this period was the saga of the bandeirante, a far more satisfying foundational myth. The bandeiras were colonial exploring parties that had their home base in São Paulo and periodically engaged in long-distance expeditions and raids into the Brazilian interior, mainly to prospect for precious minerals and to forage for indigenous people to enslave. In the “Black Legend” writings of Spanish missionaries, the bandeirante is a cruel and unsavory character, but in the hands of early-twentieth-century paulista regionalists, he is recast as a proto-capitalist entrepreneur. In contrast to the parasitical, decadent, and tradition-bound sugar planter of the Nordeste, the bandeirante is enterprising, risk-taking, and industrious. Furthermore, the bandeirante could absorb the positive traits of “exotic” elements (such as the Indian) without losing his essential (i.e., European) characteristics.28

What this gratifying narrative of paulista exceptionalism routinely suppressed was the half-century of postcolonial plantation slavery and one of the largest African-descended populations in the nation. When acknowledged at all, this inconvenient truth was trumped by the assertion that the paulista planters, imbued with the bandeirante spirit, always demonstrated a progressive disposition that made them eager to adopt new techniques and reluctant to rely on slaves. Thus many planters (it was claimed) became active abolitionists, anxious to make the transition to free (and, as it turns out, white) labor. In sum, according to this version of events, not only was the paulista not a typical slave-owning planter, but he even played a crucial role in abolishing slavery and modernizing agriculture.29

The flip side of this narrative of paulista progress was the discursive representation of the northeastern states of Brazil as “O Nordeste,” a region of unrelieved misery and disorder. The geographic area gradually being classified and homogenized as the Nordeste actually encompassed a very diverse set of topographical, social, and economic formations. The coastal zone was carpeted by fields of cane and dotted with sugar mills and industrial-scale refineries; the near-interior was a semi-arid zone of cotton cultivation and subsistence farming; and the backlands or “sertão” was a region of cattle ranching and hardscrabble farming, relieved by fertile areas of natural and artificial irrigation. The region also included several large urban centers and some significant industrial enclaves, and had a population whose color and ethnicity was as varied as its landscape and social structure. From this strikingly diverse stretch of Brazilian territory emerged São Paulo’s “Other,” a uniformly backward region plagued by droughts, a stagnant economy, and, above all, a wretched population whose very bodies bore the stigmata of their backwardness and misery.30

Obviously, these discourses have no causational effects in the first instance—it would be absurd to claim that the paulistas were “rich” (relatively speaking) because of the bandeirante myth, or that the nordestinos were “poor” (relatively and absolutely speaking) because they were discursively constructed as such. But what, then, does a historical study of the discursive construction of regional identities tell us that might be useful for addressing the question of why some are rich and some are poor?

In an indirect sense, my research has always been engaged with this question. A principal motive for doing this sort of study of paulista regionalism was to challenge the moral and political claims that such discourses sustain, and to expose the racialized underpinnings of paulista exceptionalism. As many historians have said before me, discourses such as those produced by the paulistas seek to naturalize difference and hierarchy, to make uneven distributions of material and political resources seem natural and inevitable. To take apart those claims and illuminate their particular erasures, elisions, and distortions is in itself a meaningful contribution to any discussion of uneven developments and the historical origins of inequality. But can we push this further and think deliberately about how these discourses operate not only to naturalize hierarchies and inequalities in the cultural and political spheres, but also to deepen material inequalities?

Representations of São Paulo not just as producing more but as more modern and productive, and of the Nordeste as backward, I would argue, had discernible material consequences that further concentrated resources and exacerbated the process of divergence. The discourse of paulista superiority constructed São Paulo as a separate region and economy, and equated Brazilian national interests with São Paulo’s regional progress. It produced the rationale for a federalized republic in which the paulista elites could consolidate both regional autonomy and their dominant position within the national government. And this political preeminence sustained a fiscal system in which the lion’s share of revenue from coffee exports stayed within the state of São Paulo, where it remained largely at the elites’ disposal for such purposes as subsidized immigration from northern Italy, coffee valorization, and the formation of a formidable state police force. What federal revenues did get siphoned off for public works in the Nordeste inevitably were spent either on drought relief or on schemes to resettle workers from the northeast in more prosperous regions of the country, where they often labored under conditions analogous to slavery or became, in effect, “guest workers.”

By the 1920s, the final decade of Brazil’s First Republic, paulista politicians and writers commonly referred to their region as the “locomotive”—but not only was São Paulo, in the paulista imaginary, the shiny, modern engine pulling the nation forward, but the rest of the nation was commonly identified as a chain of empty boxcars.31 São Paulo’s relationship with the Nordeste may have resembled colonialism in a number of respects, but their common location within the same national boundaries created some distinctive elements as well. Whereas in formal colonialism the metropolitan interests typically need to maintain the notion that the mother country gains some benefits from the colonial relationship, paulista elites had no incentive to acknowledge any contribution whatsoever from the Nordeste to their region’s prosperity; indeed, economically it was represented as nothing but a drag on São Paulo’s forward progress.32 Hence the image of the empty boxcars. Furthermore, that left the nordestino elites themselves with little choice but to deploy a regional narrative of misfortune and suffering as their best chance to extract some meager additional resources from the national government.33

It is hardly surprising, then, that the paulista leadership reacted first with suspicion and then with outright alarm when Getúlio Vargas seized control of the federal government in 1930 with the explicit objective of centralizing political power and subordinating the state governments—especially São Paulo—to the authority of the federal executive. And even though Vargas hailed from Brazil’s southernmost state, as the paulistas became more vocally opposed to his regime, they identified him more and more closely with his supporters in the Nordeste. By the time São Paulo took up arms and declared itself in open revolt against the federal government in July 1932, the enemy had mutated into the Nordeste, and the federal troops were routinely characterized as primitive nordestinos, or “sons of the slave quarters,” sent to fight against the “fine flower” of the bandeirante bourgeoisie.34 In the hothouse atmosphere of regional revolt, the paulistas’ constructions of their economic interests had become thoroughly fused with their racialized and gendered representations of regional character.

Three months and a couple thousand lives later, São Paulo surrendered to the federal government. Yet even after the paulistas had capitulated to the larger and better-equipped federal forces, their defeat was far from complete: Vargas and his advisors assumed that the success of their economic policies depended upon the active support of the paulista business class, and this meant not imposing humiliating terms upon the recalcitrant region. It is evident from the aftermath of the 1932 uprising that the paulistas had consolidated their economic position to a point where it had become national “common sense” that São Paulo would be the pivotal economic fulcrum for any effort at national economic growth. One could argue, in effect, that the paulistas came out the winners in the long run, as Vargas’s policies further concentrated wealth and industry in Brazil’s Center South. By 1954, when the region celebrated the four-hundredth anniversary of the founding of its capital city, São Paulo could declare itself the “Fastest-Growing City in the World,” as well as claim the distinction of being Latin America’s foremost industrial powerhouse. But that was not all that was being celebrated: a special commemorative edition of a leading daily paper, Diário Popular, trumpeted the accelerating assimilation of (European) immigrants into the paulista population, and announced, with undisguised elation, that recent statistics revealed the city to be “87.78% white.”35 From this perspective, Black paulistas, most of them descendants of the slaves who worked the coffee plantations, became a remnant of the past destined to decline and eventually disappear, while the presence of hundreds of thousands of nordestinos desperately seeking employment in the burgeoning paulista economy went entirely unremarked.

Again, the processes that led to the initial divergence in the economic trajectories of São Paulo and the Nordeste were the result of a highly complex concatenation of fortuitous and unfortunate circumstances.36 But once that process was under way, developmental economists would predict that market forces, responding to the advantages offered by the “fortunate” economy, would work to deepen inequalities, that the disparities between the regions would naturally worsen and the divergence would widen, absent any concerted effort to counteract it. In effect, the factors that foster inequality are treated as natural, automatic, almost unavoidable, whereas the factors operating to lessen inequality are external and “artificial.” It is at this point that we, as historians after the linguistic/cultural turn, can intervene to imagine how political power and cultural representations shape economic forces and combine to lubricate a process of economic divergence, with its attendant spatial inequalities.

My own research focuses on the discursive construction of divergence within the Brazilian nation, but examples elsewhere abound. David Ludden, in an essay on the origins of “modern inequality,” traces the abrupt shifts in modes of representation of British rule in South Asia. Chronicles written in the early decades of the nineteenth century asserted the supremacy of British culture but did not remark on diverging economic trends in England and India; the theme of inequality typically appeared in descriptions of different social sectors internal to each society, and not between metropolis and colony. James Mill, in his 1818 magnum opus on the history of British India, did not claim British economic supremacy. Three decades later, Karl Marx could refer to Britain’s surging economic superiority and greater productivity as an established and unquestionable fact. Even taking into account a colonially induced “great divergence” between Britain and India during these years, such starkly contrasting depictions of the economic trajectories of the two interconnected societies reveal a good deal of ideological work. According to Ludden’s incisive account, “the new idea of divergence simply translated old ideas about cultural difference into the market lexicon of industrial imperialism … Modern theorists explained economic inequalities by reference to essential differences among people who ranked high and low on the economic scale. Difference explained inequality. Poverty marked inferiority and earned subordination.”37 Under the “right” conditions, discourses of inequality and difference could construct a global order that assigned England and India very dissimilar positions and defined their economies as spatially separate. Instead of colonialism producing a system conceptualized as a single unit, it became routine to think of England as a rich land and India as a poor land, one whose people did not (and could not) hope to share the living standards enjoyed by the average British citizen. In the British imperial context, as in the Brazilian regional context, discursive constructions not only substantiated inequality but produced new conceptions and definitions of bounded economic space.

The idea that no society would be permanently relegated to a lesser standard of living was precisely what was novel and different about development when it emerged as a systematic policy alternative in the mid-twentieth century. Its very premise was that all human beings could hope to share in the magic of modernity, and that the lessons of history could provide the signposts for a better future.38 This attention to historical precedent would seem, at first glance, to be a very good thing: one of the truisms of the historical profession is that people in positions of power would produce better public policies if they had a deeper knowledge of the past. But that begs the question of which version of the past they would adopt. The engagement of developmentalism with history is an excellent example of the potentially problematic and selective uses of the past. All major theories of development had as their point of departure a certain historical explanation of economic progress in the wealthier, more successful nations. Yet even developmentalists of a critical bent tended to derive these explanations from historical narratives of economic success and failure originally deployed to construct the geopolitical boundaries of a particular economic space, and to present its economic success in ways that squared with prevailing notions of virtue and industry.39 Hence the erasure of slave plantations and enslaved African labor from the story of São Paulo’s exceptional economic success, and its conception of São Paulo as spatially separate from an area identified as the Nordeste. The problem was not only that the less-developed economies, by these lights, had not followed the normative developmental path, and therefore came to be judged defective or failed, but that the mapping of the path itself constituted a deeply flawed representation of how some societies became rich and others remained poor, or indeed how they came to be seen as separate economies in the first place.

One brief example of the way a particular reading of the past can produce problematic contemporary policies comes, ironically, from the work of Gunnar Myrdal and Albert O. Hirschman, two economists who are widely recognized for their thoughtful and humane ideas about development. Both Myrdal and Hirschman explored the way rapid economic growth had uneven effects in societies such as Brazil, with Hirschman going so far as to say that such inequalities not only were predictable, but in the short run could even prove advantageous for promoting economic growth.40 Economists and policymakers in post-Mao China in the late 1980s and early 1990s seized upon these narratives of uneven developments to validate a developmental strategy that deliberately concentrated wealth and resources in the more “modern” eastern regions of China. Political pressures from the less favored regions eventually led to a partial reversal in policy, but not before regional inequalities had become even more severe.41

Yet Gunnar Myrdal himself proposed a way of thinking historically about development that reflected a less linear, teleological, and deterministic perspective on the past. In Rich Lands and Poor, written in the mid-1950s, he claimed that “policies for economic development of underdeveloped regions” already had a long history. According to Myrdal,

it should not be overlooked that even in the poorest and least progressive countries policy actions were all the time taken by the state to counteract the tendencies toward inequality … From time immemorial, history records uprisings of the poor against the rich, the exploited countryside against the city, the peasants against the landlord. When successful, these revolts by the underprivileged received the sanction of the state … From the earliest times national states, when they came into being, almost always relied partly upon popular appeal and therefore almost always exerted a certain amount of countervailing power against the tendency to regional inequality.42

Here he situates the developmentalist impulse not among the economists or the technical experts, but within all manner of movements against inequality and injustice. Moreover, he neither completely “naturalizes” tendencies toward inequality (given that they often reflect the unequal distribution of political resources, not the “natural” play of market forces) nor treats as “unnatural” or “artificial” the measures adopted to counteract trends toward inequality. Rather, he defines them as essential to the process of development. Within this framework, it is not the narrative of São Paulo’s “extraordinary” economic growth that informs developmental policies, but rather the efforts to offset its economic hegemony. In our contemporary world, where neoliberal economics, despite some recent challenges, still holds sway, where the market is routinely represented as an autonomous force, and all attempts—at least by poorer nations—to restrain or redirect it are regarded as harmful distortions of the “natural” play of economic forces, Myrdal’s definition of development is a poignant reminder of why developmentalism had such widespread appeal in the first place. Development’s promise of economic growth and reduced inequality explains why it was (and is) so eagerly seized upon by so many popular movements, and why Nandy’s dismissal of it as nothing more than a tool of First World domination obscures more than it reveals.

This is not to absolve Myrdal and the other progressive developmentalists of all the sins of which they are presumed guilty by Arturo Escobar and the other radical critics of development. Even Myrdal’s and Hirschman’s writings indicate an inability to escape from teleological notions of modernity and progress; hence the almost interchangeable use of “poor” and “backward” when referring to underdeveloped nations, and the uniformly positive associations attached to modern expertise and technology. This is not a minor issue. It was precisely the paulistas’ representations of their region as the privileged site of Brazilian modernity that undergirded their gendered and racialized claims to superiority. And the appeal of that imagery, in analogous contexts, has by no means faded. More recently we have the case of Santa Cruz, a lowland region of Bolivia where a relatively prosperous economy, boosted by natural gas reserves, has produced a regionalist movement that resists the redistribution of wealth to the poorer highland regions. In the same vein as the paulistas, the cruceños represent themselves as more modern, more civilized, harder-working, and whiter than the “backward” Indians of the Bolivian highlands.43

In the conclusions of Encountering Development, Escobar, in tune with other post-developmentalists, avoids all reference to reducing inequality or material disparities, concepts apparently too compromised with normative notions of living standards and lifeways. He endorses, instead, a turn to cultural difference: “Cultural differences embody … possibilities for transforming the politics of representation, that is, for transforming social life itself. Out of hybrid or minority cultural situations might emerge other ways of building economies, or dealing with basic needs.”44 This resort to cultural difference (also known as identity politics) has been critiqued from a number of different angles. David Harvey, a geographer and political theorist, makes an epistemological point that seems especially germane to our concerns as historians: “respect for the condition of the homeless (or the racially or sexually oppressed) does not imply respect for the social processes creating homelessness (or racial or sexual oppression).”45 In effect, unpacking regimes of representation does not explain changes in the distribution of resources and power. The new cultural history certainly provides us with any number of ways to explore changing images and discourses about housing, homelessness, and urban space. The question is whether these tools can also help us explore the social and economic operations that produced the problem of homelessness. I would argue that they could, but only if we use them to pose a multilayered question that makes a more explicit connection between representation and causation.

Finally, I think we need to consider what we lose if we give up entirely on the idea of development. For this I turn to a brief but eloquent essay entitled “Decomposing Modernity: History and Hierarchy after Development,” by anthropologist and Africanist James Ferguson.46 Writing from a position that assumes many of the criticisms of development discourse lodged by Escobar and others, Ferguson nonetheless argues that the loss of a view of history as progressive, of development’s “not yet,” has had some very dreary consequences. Acknowledging that “the claim that development is over would surely sound strange to many people in, say, South Korea or China,” Ferguson insists that “the loss of credulity toward narratives of social and economic development has occurred not universally, but in specific ways and in specific places.”47 It is not that the “convergence narrative” of development has disappeared, but that certain locations—including almost the entire African continent—are no longer part of that conversation. Africanist scholars have responded by foregrounding “alternative modernities,” but Ferguson finds that the Zambians he interviews perceive no such alternative, but remark that they “used to be modern.” In their eyes, modernity is now “a standard of living to which some have rights by birth and from which others remain simply, but unequivocally, excluded.” The key concern is no longer progress, but egress, as millions of people cross bodies of water in rickety crafts, or trek across sun-blasted deserts, to arrive in a place where they expect to be treated miserably but will still be better off materially. In this post-development global order, “the key questions are no longer temporal ones of societal becoming … but spatialized ones of policing the edges of a status group. Hence the new prominence of walls, borders, and high technologies of social exclusion in an era that likes to imagine itself as characterized by ever-expanding connection and communication.” Under these circumstances, to talk only of cultural difference, or alternative modernities, becomes a way of avoiding the question of a rapidly worsening global inequality and its consequences.48

It is my hope that, rather than avoiding or displacing the issue, we can use new cultural approaches to reconsider the history of material inequalities, and maybe even rehabilitate certain features of the discourse of development. As that student back in Bogotá reminded me, we still need to ask why some are so rich and some so poor, though we might ask and answer the question very differently than we would have a few decades ago, when developmentalism was all the rage.

Barbara Weinstein served as president of the American Historical Association in 2007. She is professor of history at New York University, and has also taught at the University of Maryland and the State University of New York at Stony Brook. A specialist on modern Brazil, she has published books and articles on the Amazon rubber boom, Brazilian industrialization and labor relations, gender and working-class identities, and slave emancipation. She is currently completing a book on race, gender, and regional inequalities in Brazil.



  1. The quote is from Larry Wolff, Inventing Eastern Europe: The Map of Civilization on the Mind of the Enlightenment (Stanford, Calif., 1994), 19. []
  2. Domingo F. Sarmiento, “Travels in the United States in 1847,” in Sarmiento, A Sarmiento Anthology, ed. Allison W. Bunkley (Princeton, N.J., 1948), 225, 265. []
  3. Wickliffe Rose, “Public Health Situation and Work of the International Health Board in Brazil,” Rockefeller Foundation Archive, Record Group 5, Series 2, Folder 153, 1920. My thanks to Chip Blake for this reference. []
  4. Structuralist and Marxist theorists, as well as modernization theorists, assumed the need to industrialize and modernize. See, for example, Paul A. Baran, The Political Economy of Growth (New York, 1957). []
  5. Charles R. Beitz, “Does Global Inequality Matter?” in Thomas W. Pogge, ed., Global Justice (Oxford, 2001), 106. []
  6. Cited in James Ferguson, “Decomposing Modernity: History and Hierarchy after Development,” in Ania Loomba et al., eds., Postcolonial Studies and Beyond (Durham, N.C., 2005), 179. []
  7. There is an extensive literature on the history of development in theory and practice. For starters, see H. W. Arndt, Economic Development: The History of an Idea (Chicago, 1987); Frederick Cooper and Randall Packard, eds., International Development and the Social Sciences: Essays on the History and Politics of Knowledge (Berkeley, Calif., 1997); Joseph L. Love, Crafting the Third World: Theorizing Underdevelopment in Rumania and Brazil (Stanford, Calif., 1996); Michael E. Latham, Modernization as Ideology: American Social Science and “Nation Building” in the Kennedy Era (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2000); Kathryn Sikkink, Ideas and Institutions: Developmentalism in Brazil and Argentina (Ithaca, N.Y., 1991). []
  8. A major work in the modernization canon was W. W. Rostow, The Stages of Economic Growth: A Non-Communist Manifesto (Cambridge, 1960); two influential early works on dependency were Andre Gunder Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopment in Latin America: Historical Studies of Chile and Brazil (New York, 1967), and Theotonio dos Santos, El nuevo carácter de la dependencia (Santiago, Chile, 1968). []
  9. Immanuel Wallerstein, The Modern World-System: Capitalist Agriculture and the Origins of the European World Economy in the Sixteenth Century (New York, 1974); Steve J. Stern, “Feudalism, Capitalism, and the World-System in the Perspective of Latin America and the Caribbean,” American Historical Review 93, no. 4 (October 1988): 829–872. []
  10. Paul Gootenberg, Between Silver and Guano: Commercial Policy and the State in Postindependence Peru (Princeton, N.J., 1989); see also Joseph L. Love and Nils Jacobsen, eds., Guiding the Invisible Hand: Economic Liberalism and the State in Latin American History (New York, 1988). []
  11. Stephen Haber, ed., How Latin America Fell Behind: Essays on the Economic Histories of Brazil and Mexico, 1800–1914 (Stanford, Calif., 1997). []
  12. On the social movements of this era, see Arturo Escobar and Sonia E. Alvarez, eds., The Making of Social Movements in Latin America: Identity, Strategy, and Democracy (Boulder, Colo., 1992). []
  13. Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development: The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton, N.J., 1995). []
  14. Ashis Nandy, “Development and Violence,” in Nandy, The Romance of the State and the Fate of Dissent in the Tropics (Oxford, 2002), 176, 171. []
  15. Frederick Cooper, “Modernizing Bureaucrats, Backward Africans, and the Development Concept,” in Cooper and Packard, International Development and the Social Sciences, 84. []
  16. There are, of course, exceptions among historians and historically minded scholars. See, for example, Manu Goswami, Producing India: From Colonial Economy to National Space (Chicago, 2004), and Timothy Mitchell, Rule of Experts: Egypt, Techno-Politics, Modernity (Berkeley, Calif., 2002). []
  17. For an excellent critique of notions of “incomplete transition” or the need to “catch up” with Europe, see Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton, N.J., 2000), 31–32. []
  18. On development as acultural and its role in postwar colonial policy, see Cooper, “Modernizing Bureaucrats,” 75. []
  19. David S. Landes, The Wealth and Poverty of Nations: Why Some Are So Rich and Some So Poor (New York, 1998), 516, 523. According to Landes, scholars avoid discussing culture “in the sense of inner values and attitudes that guide a population” because they are frightened of “the sulphuric odor of race and inheritance” (516). Apparently, not frightened enough. []
  20. I have discussed this specific point further in “History without a Cause? Grand Narratives, World History, and the Postcolonial Dilemma,” International Review of Social History 50 (2005): 71–93. []
  21. Margaret Jacob, “Thinking Unfashionable Thoughts, Asking Unfashionable Questions,” American Historical Review 105, no. 2 (April 2000): 494. []
  22. For a provocative discussion of the limits of cultural critique, see Timothy Brennan, “The Economic Image-Function of the Periphery,” in Loomba et al., Postcolonial Studies and Beyond, 101–122. I agree with Brennan that “the idea [of the periphery] may be weakened by exposing its underlying bigotry or civilizational slightings” (102), but such exposure does not mean that, as a formation, it loses its economic advantages for those in the “center.” []
  23. I am using “growth” here rather than “development” not only because development as a formal concept did not yet exist, but also because those involved in promoting the paulista economy were not yet deliberately concerned with raising living standards or reducing material disparities. By the 1920s, however, Roberto Simonsen—a prominent paulista industrialist, engineer, and economist—was already insisting that increasing productivity was the surest means of raising living standards. On these early debates about industrialization, see my monograph For Social Peace in Brazil: Industrialists and the Remaking of the Working Class in São Paulo, 1920–1964 (Chapel Hill, N.C., 1996). []
  24. Jacques Lambert, Os dois Brasis (Rio de Janeiro, 1959). The text most associated with the idea of Brazil as two societies, one modern and one backward, is Euclides da Cunha, Os sertões (repr., Brasília, 1963), first published in 1902. It was translated into English as Rebellion in the Backlands. []
  25. Jane Schneider, ed., Italy’s “Southern Question”: Orientalism in One Country (Oxford, 1998). []
  26. The classic statement of this view is Frank, Capitalism and Underdevelopment. Later works in the vein of dependency theory tended to be less absolute or fatalistic in their arguments. See Fernando Henrique Cardoso and Enzo Faletto, Dependency and Development in Latin America (Berkeley, Calif., 1979). []
  27. On the coffee boom in São Paulo, see Emília Viotti da Costa, Da senzala à colônia (São Paulo, 1966); on its emergence as an industrial center, see Warren Dean, The Industrialization of São Paulo, 1880–1945 (Austin, Tex., 1969), and Wilson Cano, Raízes da concentração industrial em São Paulo (Rio de Janeiro, 1977). []
  28. On the invention of the bandeirante myth, see Antonio Celso Ferreira, A epopéia bandeirante: Letrados, instituições, invenção histórica (1870–1940) (São Paulo, 2002). []
  29. For a brief but illuminating discussion of the historical tendency to dissociate slavery from capitalism, see Walter Johnson, “The Pedestal and the Veil: Rethinking the Capitalism/Slavery Question,” Journal of the Early Republic 24, no. 2 (Summer 2004): 299–308. []
  30. There is a growing literature on the social and political construction of the Nordeste. Durval Muniz de Albuquerque Jr., A invenção do Nordeste e outras artes (Recife/São Paulo, 2001), and Stanley E. Blake, “The Invention of the Nordestino: Race, Region, and Identity in Northeastern Brazil, 1889–1945” (Ph.D. diss., State University of New York at Stony Brook, 2001). []
  31. I discuss this at greater length in “Racializing Regional Difference: São Paulo versus Brazil, 1932,” in Nancy P. Appelbaum, Anne S. Macpherson, and Karin Alejandra Rosemblatt, eds., Race and Nation in Modern Latin America (Chapel Hill, N.C., 2003), 237–262. []
  32. The Nordeste, as a “timeless” region, did become a source of folklore and cultural authenticity for many paulista scholars and artists. Nísia Trindade Lima, Um sertão chamado Brasil: Intelectuais e representação geográfica da identidade nacional (Rio de Janeiro, 1999). []
  33. The leading scholar of nordestino identity sees it primarily as a construction of political and intellectual elites from the Nordeste. Albuquerque, A invenção do Nordeste, 65–172. []
  34. One widely circulated separatist manifesto warned the paulista population that the federal troops were “mestizos born of slaves, the foul offspring of the slave quarters, who now wish to enslave you.” Weinstein, “Racializing Regional Difference,” 249. []
  35. “Meio século de evolução da Paulicéia,” Diário Popular, January 23, 1954, 3. By way of introducing the statistics on race in São Paulo, the article announced that “the hegemony of the white race over the others was revealed” by the new data. This is an interesting use of the word “hegemony” (hegemonia) to mean numerical preponderance. []
  36. To quote one developmental economist, “the power of attraction of a center today has its origin mainly in the historical accident that something was started there and not in a number of other places where it could equally well or better have been started, and that the start met with success.” Gunnar Myrdal, Rich Lands and Poor: The Road to World Prosperity (New York, 1957), 27. []
  37. David Ludden, “Modern Inequality and Early Modernity: A Comment for the AHR on Articles by R. Bin Wong and Kenneth Pomeranz,” American Historical Review 107, no. 2 (April 2002): 470–480. []
  38. Arndt, Economic Development, 49–54. []
  39. For a related argument, see Geoff Eley, “Historicizing the Global, Politicizing Capital: Giving the Present a Name,” History Workshop Journal 63 (2007): 163–168. []
  40. Even more ironically, a key point of their argument was to critique conservative claims that market forces, if left unfettered, would reduce inequality. Albert O. Hirschman, The Strategy of Economic Development (New Haven, Conn., 1958), 125–132; Myrdal, Rich Lands and Poor, 3–10, 23–38. []
  41. C. Cindy Fan, “Uneven Development and Beyond: Regional Development Theory in Post-Mao China,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 21, no. 4 (1997): 620–639. []
  42. Myrdal, Rich Lands and Poor, 43–44. []
  43. On regional inequalities and current tensions in Bolivia, see Simon Romero, “Bolivians Now Hear Ominous Tones in the Call to Arms,” New York Times, December 15, 2007; “Protesters in Bolivia Seek More Autonomy,” New York Times, December 16, 2007. []
  44. Escobar, Encountering Development, 225. For a similar perspective, see María Josefina Saldaña-Portillo, The Revolutionary Imagination in the Americas and the Age of Development (Durham, N.C., 2003), esp. 191–257. []
  45. David Harvey, Justice, Nature and the Geography of Difference (Cambridge, Mass., 1996), 363. []
  46. James Ferguson, “Decomposing Modernity: History and Hierarchy after Development,” in Loomba et al., Postcolonial Studies and Beyond, 166–181. []
  47. Ibid., 172. []
  48. Ibid, 176–177, 179. []