"Otherwise Engaged": Culture, Deviance and the Quest for Connectivity through Road Construction
Workaround: In current version of Panels 3.8, it seems this body field needs to be populated in order for title above to appear. This note is hidden by custom CSS style. Jack Latimer.
Refereed Journal Papers
This article explores the cultural framings that all too frequently pass un-noticed in standard cost-benefit accounts of development economics. Our purpose is not simply to add our voice to those who argue for the importance of 'bringing culture back in', for we assume that in contexts of modern development economics 'the cultural' cannot simply be added to the technical or the economic, as these perspectives are explicitly elaborated as an abstraction from the cultural. Rather, we are interested in how an exploration of the cultural dynamics of technical process leads us to a disjunctive (rather than an additive) mode of 'inclusion'. Building on approaches from science studies and social anthropology, we draw on our ethnographic and historical investigations of road-building in Peru to explore divergent modes of connectivity through which a politics of cultural engagement is played out. Taking the example of a highway under construction in a frontier zone not generally considered of economic importance to the wider national economy, we discuss the historical desire for 'connectivity', highlighting the instability of the physical and social environments on the margins of a marginal state. In this context we find that the vital energies of the frontier - entrepreneurial, innovative, experimental and unruly - consistently disrupt the vision of smooth, orderly, technical integration. We argue that this tension between the cultural and the technical, so clearly manifest at the frontiers of capitalist expansion (but characteristic of technological expansion more generally) is a driver rather than an obstacle in the development process. Attempts to produce a political resolution to a perceived lack of integration on the margins of society too often proceed through further attempts at securing smooth continuity (via further technical modes of intervention) rather than building on the diverse (disjunctive) modes of engagement that already exist.2008Journal of Cultural Economy1179-92