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December 04 , 2008

Art, Culture and International Development

Humanizing social transformation


Culture is not simply an explanation of last resort, but is itself a rich, multifaceted and contested concept and set of practices that needs to be expanded, appreciated and applied in fresh ways if it is to be both valued in itself and to be of use in practical development. This innovative book places culture, specifically in the form of the arts, back at the centre of debates in development studies by introducing new ways of conceptualizing art in relation to development.

The book shows how the arts and development are related in very practical ways – as means to achieve development goals through visual, dramatic, filmic and craft-inspired ways. It advocates not so much culture and development, but rather for the development of culture. Without a cultural content to economic and social transformation the problems found in much development – up-rooting of cultures, loss of art forms, languages and modes of expression and performance – may only accelerate. Paying attention to the development of the arts as the content of development helps to amend this culturally destructive process. Finally, the book argues for the value of the arts in attaining sustainable cultures, promoting poverty alleviation, encouraging self-empowerment, stimulating creativity and the social imagination, which in turn flow back into wider processes of social transformation. Discussion questions at the end of each chapter make this book ideal to help foster further thinking and debate.

This book is an inspiring read for postgraduate students and researchers in the fields of development studies, cultural studies and sociology of development.

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