Practice in Development, Practicing Development: Shifting Contours in Knowledge from the Field

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Rukmini SEN, Ambedkar University Delhi, India
This paper intends to understand knowledge, that comes from the field—the field of the development practitioner. Being part of a research program on Development Practice which is based on the philosophy/methodology of immersion, this paper is an attempt to gauge how knowledge is generated through practice. By practice in development there is a paradigm shift from the development ethnographer to the immersed practitioner. The shift in methodology to map/comprehend development is intrinsically connected with the knowledge that is co-created in the field/from the field. Listening is what distinguishes a development practitioner—she is more aural than ocular, more an engaged listener than a participant observer. Much of what she will generate is people conversing, singing, laboring—everyday living. The attempt in immersion will be to converse and comprehend characters, plots, or voices. Are the conversations around loss (from development landscape) and the comprehension about recovery (into a landscape of development)? And if the development practitioner is also one character in this plot and not one who is only observing the plot, then is it also about the loss and (re)covery, meaning transformation of her-self? Conversations with and comprehension of lives and practices is what seems to be the practicing development.

The field in development practice is as much a contested site as knowledge itself. Is the field only out there or inside the practitioner as well—the self as a field site? So the field-site is not at all an abstraction out there where one visits and returns rather it represents the beginning of an archeology of relatedness which forms the basis of any knowledge. In this case knowledge from the field is praxis-based, relationship dependent knowledge. This paper will be an attempt on sociology of knowledge production when there is practice in development.