What might the work of Bruno Latour — and STS more broadly — offer critical development studies? Growing out of work in South Africa, I have a theoretical piece on what Latour can offer post-development studies and practice. It is being published in Development & Change. (open access version)
The work of the French anthropologist-cum-philosopher Bruno Latour has influenced a wide variety of disciplines in the past three decades. Yet, Latour has had little noticeable effect within development studies, including those sub-fields where it might be reasonable to expect affinity, such as the anthropology of development. The first half of this article outlines some core aspects of Latour’s oeuvre as they relate to development and anthropology, particularly focusing on the post-development critique. Latour’s approach to constructivism and translation, his analytical commitment to ‘keeping the social flat’ and his distribution of agency offer novel ways of maintaining some of the strengths of post-development without falling prey to some of its weaknesses. The second half of the article explores the potential for a Latour-inspired theory of development that may provide fruitful avenues for scholarship and practice beyond post-development, emphasizing materialism, relationality and hybridity.