The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge

Posted: 21 May 2009

See all articles by David Lewis

David Lewis

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Dennis Rodgers

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Michael Woolcock

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG); Harvard University - Kennedy School of Government; Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS)

Date Written: January 21, 2008

Abstract

This article introduces and explores issues regarding the question of what constitute valid forms of development knowledge, focusing in particular on the relationship between fictional writing on development and more formal academic and policy-oriented representations about development issues. We challenge certain conventional notions about the nature of knowledge, narrative authority, and representational form, and explore these by comparing and contrasting selected works of recent literary fiction that touch on development issues with academic and policy related representations of the development process, thereby demonstrating the value of taking literary perspectives on development seriously. Not only are certain works of fiction “better” than academic or policy research in representing central issues relating to development, but they also frequently reach a wider audience and are therefore more influential. Moreover, the line between fact and fiction is a very fine one. The article also provides a list of relevant works of fiction that we hope academics and practitioners will find both useful and enjoyable.

Keywords: development knowledge, representation, narrative authority, fiction

Suggested Citation

Lewis, David and Rodgers, Dennis and Woolcock, Michael, The Fiction of Development: Literary Representation as a Source of Authoritative Knowledge (January 21, 2008). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1408008

David Lewis (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

Dennis Rodgers

affiliation not provided to SSRN ( email )

Michael Woolcock

World Bank - Development Research Group (DECRG) ( email )

1818 H. Street, N.W.
Mailstop MC3-306
Washington, DC 20433
United States
202-473-9258 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://econ.worldbank.org/staff/mwoolcock

Harvard University - Kennedy School of Government ( email )

Littauer-G-11G
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States
617-495-0911 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://ksgfaculty.harvard.edu/michael_woolcock

Harvard University - Harvard Kennedy School (HKS) ( email )

79 John F. Kennedy Street
Cambridge, MA 02138
United States

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