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Transnational Community Development Projects and the Micro-Politics of Social Life in the Borderlands, Nagaland, Northeast India
In this paper I touch upon two aspects of development presented through my ethnographic study of the Nagaland Environment Protection and Economic Development (NEPED) project using participant observation, recording life histories of respondents, and village-based household interviews. The first is the discursive construction of the project beneficiary as poor, underdeveloped and backward through published literature. The second is the inter-household negotiation of developmental resources as reflected through the circulation of micro-credit as revolving funds in the project villages.
I explore the micro-politics of everyday life and project practice using Scott's (1990) idea of 'infra-politics' to reflect on the contest of representation between the beneficiary community and the 'project experts' Pigg (1992), while on the other hand analyze the struggle within the community for resources made available by the project and the ways people capitalize on it. Thus I will highlight the actors, networks and institutions involved in community development programmes and problematize the ideal conceptualization of community as a site for collective participation.
Through the study of development institutions and popular polices the paper focuses on the practice of objectification and the creation of populist discourse on participation that overlooks multiple layers of patronage, public and self interest exercised by beneficiaries (the project community) in community development programmes (Mosse, 2005; Hickey and Mohan, 2004; Brow 1992).