Implementing Inequality argues that the international development industry’s internal dynamics—between international and national staff, and among policy makers, administrators, and implementers—shape interventions and their outcomes as much as do the external dynamics of global political economy. Through an ethnographic study in postwar Angola, the book demonstrates how the industry’s internal social pressures guide development’s methods and goals, introducing the innovative concept of the development implementariat: those in-country workers, largely but not exclusively “local” staff members, charged with carrying out development’s policy prescriptions. The implementariat is central to the development endeavor but remains overlooked and under-supported as most of its work is deeply social, interactive, and relational, the kind of work that receives less recognition and support than it deserves at every echelon of the industry. If international development is to meet its larger purpose, it must first address its internal inequalities of work and professional class.
About the Author
Rebecca Warne Peters is an assistant professor of anthropology at the State University of New York, Oswego.
“This is a timely and well-judged analysis of the ‘internal inequalities’ that exist at the heart of the project of international development. In a thoughtful and highly readable account of a governance program in Angola, Rebecca Warne Peters combines original theoretical insight with careful empirical analysis.” — David Lewis
“Implementing Inequality is a rare book that comes alive in the best tradition of ethnographic description while building solid theory. Peters' rich account humanizes people in the "implementariat" and their daily challenges, struggles, and decisions. Ultimately hopeful, Implementing Inequality reminds us that frontline workers are already policymakers whose experience can guide a still-possible transformative development.” — Mark Schuller
" Applying currently fashionable concepts with a modicum of theoretical baggage, Peters examines, in anthropological detail, international development, “the purposeful pursuit of social change,” as it is carried out by the implementariate who seek to fulfill the wishes of policy makers, consultants, and donors. Well written and well organized, this is an important contribution to the literature on the intersection of international development and anthropology. Highly recommended." — Choice
"Implementing Inequality is a useful read for both students and development professionals. It could serve as a trigger for self-reflection and urges better practices and greater understanding within the sector." — LSE US Centre American Politics and Policy blog
"Lower wages for local employees, sexism and racism in their own ranks: development organizations are not free from power relations that they actually want to abolish. Experts and employees repeatedly criticize the inequality within aid organizations. With her large-scale field study on a democratization project in Angola, anthropologist Rebecca Warne Peters makes a contribution to the debate. Above all, she reveals the balance of power between project staff and administrative employees." — welt-sichten