From Statesmen to Technocrats to Financiers: Development Agents in the Third World

21 Pages Posted: 25 Jul 2017 Last revised: 17 Nov 2017

See all articles by Priya S. Gupta

Priya S. Gupta

Southwestern Law School; London School of Economics - Law Department

Date Written: July 21, 2017


This chapter is part of an edited collection—edited by L.Eslava, M.Fakhri and V.Nesiah—that revisits the various political, economic, legal, and social legacies of the Bandung Conference—the 1955 meeting of twenty-nine Asian and African countries in Bandung, Indonesia. The chapter analyzes three modes of development expertise and agency at work since Bandung against the political and economic ideals espoused at the conference and argues for the relevance of the current rise of finance and its forms of expertise in this genealogy. It traces three sets of actors who—drawing on different sets of values, practices, and forms of knowledge—successively advanced and complicated Bandung’s political, economic, and social legacy from 1955 to the present. The interplay among them is best understood as a series of transformations of development expertise reflecting the ascendancy of three types of agents of development: statesmen, technocrats, and financiers. These transformations—and the foregrounding of particular agents in particular moments—reflect the emergence of new forms of knowledge, ideas, and practices regarding development, as embodied in new sites of expertise and new directions for resource allocation. The transition between the first two of these agents, well documented elsewhere, resembles to some degree a kind of “routinization of charisma,” to borrow Weber’s formulation: a movement from charismatic statesmen to bureaucratic technocrats. The second transformation—from technocracy to the dominance of finance and from technocrats to financiers—is still unfolding and being understood today. A central claim of this chapter is that this move, however, was not external to the project of the third world, but was in large part a consequence of its trajectory.

Keywords: Bandung, Development, Finance, International Law, TWAIL – Third World Approaches to International Law, Politics of Knowledge, Economic Sociology, Political Economy, Technocracy

Suggested Citation

Gupta, Priya S., From Statesmen to Technocrats to Financiers: Development Agents in the Third World (July 21, 2017). TLI Think! Paper 65/2017; Southwestern Law School Research Paper No. 2017-7. Available at SSRN: or

Priya S. Gupta (Contact Author)

Southwestern Law School ( email )

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London School of Economics - Law Department ( email )

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