Friday, August 28, 2015

Give a man a fish. No, I mean it: Give a man a fish!

     "It is on the basis of this dual critique of both politically oriented action and of regnant ideas about sustainable development that Scherz seeks to redeem the status of 'small present-oriented acts of care.'  In the final paragraphs of her book, Scherz urges readers who are concerned with helping the poor to position themselves in such a way as to make relationships of dependence possible, to '[be] someone others might attach themselves to.'  This is a radical revaluation of the term 'dependence,' which has so long been the bugbear of development efforts.  Rather than willing those in poverty to be able to help themselves, one commits to being a helper; rather than decrying such assistance as unsustainable, one commits to sustaining it.  Here small acts emerge as compelling because they are socially productive, giving rise to the sort of relationships that have the power to effect real changechange that, importantly, resonates especially well in many of the places where development projects are positioned."

     Naomi Haynes, reviewing Having people, having heart:  charity, sustainable development, and problems of dependence in Central Uganda, by China Scherz (Chicago:  University of Chicago Press, 2014), in "The perils and power of charity, or, In praise of small acts," Books and culture 21, no. 5 (September/October 2015):  13 (12-13).

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