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Global DevelopmentA Cold War History$
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Sara Lorenzini

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691180151

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691180151.001.0001

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International Organizations and Development as a Global Mission

International Organizations and Development as a Global Mission

(p.89) 6 International Organizations and Development as a Global Mission
Global Development

Sara Lorenzini

Princeton University Press

This chapter explores how the growing awareness of the global dimensions of development had made international organizations, especially the United Nations, crucial to development thinking and practice. International organizations' involvement in development proceeded in stages, converging toward “one size fits all,” universal technocratic knowledge, and solutions unconnected to cultural specificities, even if distinctive in their ideological orientation. In the 1990s, the naturalized French diplomat Stéphane Hessel wrote that development was a concept that informed the whole structure of the United Nations and gave it meaning. He claimed it took forty years to move from the black-and-white reasoning of the 1950s toward a more nuanced view. The chapter tells the story of this transformation. International organizations that had acted as agencies of civilization in late colonial times became arenas in which different ideas of modernity were articulated. Some, like the World Bank, were clearly the expression of a Western capitalist mindset, whereas others, like the United Nations, provided a home for both technocratic thinking and anti-imperialist ideas that differed from the prevailing modernization theory.

Keywords:   development, international organizations, United Nations, technocratic knowledge, modernity, World Bank, Western capitalism, anti-imperialist ideas, modernization theory

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