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The History of Development

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The History of Development
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Subtitle: From Western Origins to Global Faith
Author/Editor: Gilbert Rist
New Pb 320 pp.
Subject: History & Biography,Environment & Ecology,Development
Condition: Good
Published: 2015

The History of Development, now in its fourth edition, is a classic development text, which has both defined and changed its field. Gilbert Rist provides a complete and powerful overview of what the idea of development has meant throughout history. He traces it from its origins in the Western view of history, through the early stages of the world system, the rise of US hegemony, and the supposed triumph of third-worldism, through to new concerns about the environment and globalization.

In a new chapter on post-development models and ecological dimensions, written against a background of world crisis and ideological disarray, Rist considers possible ways forward and brings the book completely up to date. Throughout, he argues persuasively that development has been no more than a collective delusion, which in reality has resulted only in widening market relations, whatever the intentions of its advocates.


'If you want to understand the ideological forces that have shaped North-South relations for half a century, you need this remarkable book.' - Susan George

'This is an impressive account of the rise and demise of the belief system that has pushed mankind to the brink of disaster' - Wolfgang Sachs, author/editor of The Development Dictionary and Fair Future

‘Richly fascinating ... Rist strips away the layers of illusion and rhetoric with surgical precision to expose the conceptual fallacies and flaws on which development is founded.’ - The Tribune

Praise for previous editions:

'Compelling and exciting reading ... Rist's book, written with deliciously mild irony, is an account of the most crucial moments in which the rites of a belief embraced by millions were elaborated and canonized' - European Journal of Development Research

'This book does an outstanding job' - Journal of Developing Areas

Table of Contents

Preface to the Fourth Edition
Preface to the Third Edition
Preface to the Second Edition


1. Definitions of Development
2. Metamorphoses of a Western Myth
3. The Making of a World System
4. The Invention of Development
5. The International Doctrine and Institutions Take Root
6. Modernization Poised between History and Prophecy
7. The Periphery and the Understanding of History
8. Self-reliance: The Communal Past as a Model for the Future
9. The Triumph of Third-Worldism
10. The Environment, or the New Nature of 'Development'
11. A Mixture of Realism and Fine Sentiments
12. Globalization as a Simulacrum of 'Development'
13. From the Struggle against Poverty to the Millennium Development Goals
14. The Great Turnaround?
15. Beyond 'Development': From Downscaling to a Change in the Economic Paradigm



About the Author:

Gilbert Rist is professor emeritus at the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva. He previously taught in Tunisia, and spent several years as director of the Centre Europe-Tiers Monde. His other publications include The Delusion of Economics (Zed Books, 2011). The History of Development was his first book to be translated into English, and has also been published in Spanish and Italian.
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