Forging Modern States with Imperfect Tools: United Nations Technical Assistance for Public Administration in Decolonized States
A revised version of this article is in Humanity Journal (2020), Forthcoming
44 Pages Posted: 29 May 2019
Date Written: May 3, 2019
This article examines United Nations (UN) programs of technical assistance for public administration as a ‘technology of stateness’ during the postwar period of decolonization (roughly 1945-1965). Drawing on the wider modernization and development literature as well as original research in the UN Archives, the article shows how the Public Administration Division of the UN’s Technical Assistance Administration connected with a larger network of actors interested in promoting public administration reforms in decolonized states, including other international organizations, private actors (including charitable foundations and professional associations), state agencies, and national elites. The article further analyzes the rationalities and technologies advanced by UN technical assistance in this field, finding a complex picture whereby the advice given and actions taken by UN officials suggested both a tendency towards centralization of state of power and a movement of power away from the state. In doing so, the article highlights continuities between postwar development and the ‘neoliberal’ practices of development management that emerged towards the end of the twentieth century. A revised version of this article is forthcoming in Humanity Journal, 2020.
Keywords: United Nations, technical assistance, public administration, decolonization, development, Hammarskjöld
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