From Commodity to Capability Fetishism: Human Development as a Harmonisation of Social and Territorial Cartographies

Kizito Michael George


The development discourse has been thrown into a disarray and paradigmatic quagmire by the impasse of neo-liberal transnational social cartographies. There are calls within the development discourse fraternity to deterritorise the concept of development so as to grapple with it sufficiently and effectively. Failure to adhere to this call, various development discourses have been accused of methodological territorialism. This paper uses critical hermeneutics to argue that the trajectory from Trickle Down and Basic Needs Theory to Human Rights, Capability and Functionings approaches to development is fundamentally a paradigm shift from territorial to social cartographies. This paper further argues that despite the significance of social cartographies occasioned by neo-liberal globalisation, territorial cartographies as envisaged by structuralists, post-structuralists, post-developmentalists, post-colonialists and global ethnographers are still vital because of their thorough critique of the power discourse behind structures that disadvantage individuals. The paper contends that in order to realise engendered development, it is pertinent to ultimately look at the individual who is the basic ingredient of a moral society (ethical individualism) as well as the structures and strictures that disempower and vulnerablelise individual moral agents.

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