An ethnography of NGO practice in India

Utopias of development

By Stewart Allen

An ethnography of NGO practice in India


  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Hardcover
  • ISBN: 978-1-7849-9299-6
  • Pages: 192
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £75.00
  • Published Date: August 2018
  • BIC Category: Sociology, Anthropology, Politics & government, SOCIAL SCIENCE / General, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Anthropology / General, Society & social sciences / General, Society & social sciences / Anthropology
  • Series: New Ethnographies


Through an ethnographic study of the 'Barefoot College', an internationally renowned non- governmental development organisation (NGO) situated in Rajasthan, India, this book investigates the methods and practices by which a development organisation materialises and manages a construction of success. Paying particular attention to the material processes by which success is achieved and the different meanings and discourses that they act to perform, this book offers a timely and novel approach to how the world of development NGOs and development ideologies work. The author argues that the College, as a prolific producer of various forms of development media, achieves its success through materially mediated heterotopic spectacles: enacted and imperfect utopias that constitute the desires, imaginings and Otherness of its society. The chapters that follow consider the different scenarios through which success was realised at the College.


Stewart Allen was previously a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science


Introduction: selling the Barefoot College
1 Strands of history
2 An award controversy
3 India is shining
4 Solar spectating: the witnessing of development success
5 Circuits of knowledge
6 Replication and its troubles
Conclusion: the frayed edges of the spectacle

Sign up to our newsletter
and receive 20% off all future book orders