Education & Development

[What follows is a summary of our critique of dominant models of development and education as oppressive systems of exploitation and enslavement. What we have highlighted are just a few of the examples of oppression and exploitation that dominant development and education models have caused. Our response to these oppressive systems is Dreamscaping and Lovescaping.]

 

We are first and foremost human beings, and that is the lens we use to see the world. Everything else is secondary.

 

Colonialism showed us (among other things) how language was used to characterize and define the “other.” Localized knowledges and understandings were deemed wrong and persecuted, and knowledge and learning became privileged and prejudiced. In order to break this pattern, we must deconstruct these barriers to knowledge to free humans from the notions of a linear way of understanding the world. In other words, we must critique and change mainstream educational and development thought. By breaking apart the dualism of language, we acknowledge the actuality of multiple ways of living, denying the oppositional discourse that is inherent in current development paradigms and unshackling the domination archetype that exists between societies and peoples. We can use language to alter humanity’s psychology of thinking by rejecting the philosophy of dualism, of this or that, of right or wrong, and embracing pluralism. Living, then is grounded on the certainty of the present – the authenticities and identities of the experiences of the existents. We are first and foremost human beings, and that is the lens we use to see the world. Everything else is secondary.

We believe that education is a tool of liberation and empowerment, that it is the mechanism for social change and justice. We believe that we have to unpeel the layers that separate the world and instead focus closely on what unites it. Education allows us to deconstruct what we and others have already built. It allows us to to see structures with a critically conscious eye, and it allows us to step back and analyze what we understand, what we know, how we come to know and how we see ourselves. Further, it allows us to take action. When we begin this process of interrogation, we grasp that “best” and “right” are not universal, We come to the realization that there is only what is “best and right for here and now.” We look at the world as it is, but we see if for what it could be, and that is what dreamscaping is, seeing the world as it is, and scaping out what we want it to be.

Dreams are often the foundation of which societies are built upon.

Dreams are often the foundation of which societies are built upon, and we want to live in a society that envisions a world collectively and execute to achieve that collective imagination. For our dreams are the realities we speak into existence. We believe in a world created by this mantra and sustained by this new kind of development, a development that is not really development, but a maturation of respect and sharing that goes beyond materialism and acknowledges the beings that we are – Alive. Here and now. Different and the same.

We created Dreamscaping and Lovescaping as an answer to the inherent inequities and flaws that we have witnessed in current education and development paradigms. We envision partnering with peoples from around the world in order to bring to life their visions, their creations, and in so doing, bring to life our dream of a better world. As a human being, we encompass all human beings. Just like all human beings are us.

If we are to move past the hegemonic, capitalistic, oppressive nature of what we call modernity, we must let go of the worship and idolization of individuality and individualism at the expense of the collective harmony of the community of peoples that has become so twisted in western ideology.

In Encountering Development (1995), Arturo Escobar outlines the history of the hegemonic practice of development.  His (and others) rejection of a  linear view on development contributed a discourse to the concept of development, ultimately rejecting altogether the idea of development. Many argue that “development” has failed, and that after decades of doing development, argue that the world is worse off (Illich, 1968; Pieterse, 2000; Rahnema, 1997). These scholars rightly recognize linear development as a top-down imposition that neglected the realities of peoples and cultures (Escobar, 1995).

We seek…alternatives to development.

In contrast to the fixed, linear model of development shared by many in the development world, Dreamscapers and Lovescapers are situated within this community that views knowledge as being culturally situated. In this space, we paint the history of development in a much darker and revealing light. Whereas developmentalists and modernists view development as a way to uplift countries to modernity, we recognizes development as a form of control that is often detrimental to society and nature.

We use discourse as a methodology to analyze development and deconstruct the developmental reality that has engulfed our mentality. We seeks “alternatives to development” (Dreamscaping and Lovescaping) rather than “alternative development” because “alternatives to development” breach the paradigm of development whereas “alternative development” simply reaffirms development by another means (Pieterse, 2000).

Dreamscaping and Lovescaping is our response.

We seek to undo the objectification of peoples entrenched from colonial times which carried over into processes of development. We gaze upon education as a power structure that begs deconstruction through discourse, disentangling the economical viewpoint of development and widening the possibility for critique and solutions (Brigg, 2002). Education to us then is not a means or a tool, but a critical discourse into a greater knowledge paradigm. Whereas development imposes educational development, education in a Dreamscaping/Lovescaping context liberates. In development, education becomes a system of power and oppression, a means toward an economic outcome. In Dreamscaping and Lovescaping discourse, education deconstructs the systems of power, liberating all from the linear paradigm of control.

In order to dream up new concepts and solutions, we need to critique the dominant forms of development and education (thus, this commentary). For without discourse, without critique, new inventions will fail to materialize. It is only by critiquing the concept of development will we be able to see past the loaded prejudices embedded within the development paradigm. However, we recognize that critiquing is not enough, it must be paired with action. We cannot just critique, we must critique and respond with a solution.

Development grew out of the philosophy of colonialism and was used as a way for the West to keep power. As Escobar highlights

Countries that were self-sufficient in food crops at the end of World War II – many of them even exported food to industrialized nations – became net food importers throughout the development era…as they contracted under pressure to produce cash crops, accept cheap food from the west, and conform to agricultural markets dominated by the multinational merchants of grain. (Escobar, 1995, p. 104)

Where colonialism was a direct oppression, development arose as economic exploitation, which legitimized this oppression through hegemonic institutions.

Development is often justified through the lens of progress. Progress is used to describe a society’s march towards modernity. However, modernity, like progress is problematic. Their definitions are derived from the Western/Eurocentric mindset that grew out of colonialism and European imperial expansion. Ironically, the expansion of Europe demonstrated that which Europeans and Westerners ultimately came to reject – the plurality of ways of living. Instead, they blindly followed the dualistic mirage of civilized (read Christian) and barbarian (read Infidel) and made it their mission to civilize the rest of the world, despite the complex societies that they encountered (Shanin, 1997).

This would go on to become development. Ivan Illich describes development as “Rich nations now benevolently impose a straitjacket of traffic jams, hospital confinements and classrooms on the poor nations, and by international agreement call this ‘development’” (Illich, 1997, p. 95). Development has become the process of turning once self-sufficient peoples into dependent consumers, individually enslaved to the market of supply and demand. Development breaks apart societies, placing individual wants and needs over those of the community. It fosters competition instead of collaboration and emphasizes individual freedom at the expense of group oppression. As Ivan Illich lays out:

Each car which Brazil puts on the road denies fifty people good transportation by bus. Each merchandized refrigerator reduces the chance of building a community freezer. Every dollar spent in Latin America on doctors and hospitals costs a hundred lives, to adopt a phrase of Jorge de Ahumada, the brilliant Chilean economist. Had each dollar been spent on providing safe drinking water, a hundred lives could have been saved. Each dollar spent on schooling means more privileges for the few at the cost of the many; at best it increases the number of those who, before dropping out, have been taught that those who stay longer have earned the right to more power, wealth and prestige. What such schooling does is to teach the schooled the superiority of the better schooled. (Illich, 1997, p. 96)

Illich’s critique of development is one that Escobar and others echo. In Development as Planned Poverty, Illich (1997) spares no punch as he tears down the illusion of development. Development doesn’t give freedoms to the masses, but enslaves them into the system which development is designed to support. It is, as Illich declares, “a surrender of the social conscious to packaged solutions (96).”

The reality of development isn’t that it is planned poverty, but that it is systemized slavery. It has legitimized oppression. Development, which is based in capitalism, ignores the history of capitalism. As Edward Baptist (2014) elucidates, capitalism was born, and succeeded on the back of millions of African slaves in America. This exploitation of capital, was replicated across the world through colonialism, and continues today through the systemization of neo-colonialism. Countries in the global south are forced to take loans from the north and sell their lands to northern-based multinational corporations, who in turn, use the land to create goods to sell in the north, because that is where the money is located. Meanwhile, the south, which was once self-sufficient, is worse off, its citizens are forced to buy commercialized goods that they don’t necessarily need, instead of deciding for themselves. As Aimé Césaire so aptly declares, colonization = thingification (Césaire, 1955/1972) in that the systems in place, the people in charge, treat others as subjects, as objects to be quantified instead of the humans that they are. Césaire decries the use of statistics in development and laments about the civilizations destroyed, the ways of life diminished, the genocide that has taken place. Capitalism, like development, is just a new process for the age-old system of oppression.

In short, “development” is an oppressive system of exploitation and enslavement. What we highlighted here are just a few of the examples of this exploitation. Our response to this oppressive system is Dreamscaping and Lovescaping. We encourage you to share your dreams and scape the world with love.

We look at the world as it is, but we see if for what it could be. And that is what dreamscaping is; seeing the world as it is, and scaping out what we want it to be.

References/Further Reading:

Baptist, E. (2014). The half has never been told: Slavery and the making of American capitalism.

New York, NY: Basic Books.

Brigg, M. (2002). Post-development, foucault and the colonisation metaphor. Third World

           Quarterly, 23(3), 421-436.

Césaire, Aimé. (1972). Discourse on colonialism. (J Pinkham, Trans.). New York, NY: Monthly                Review Press. (Original work published 1955)

Escobar, A. (1995). Encountering development: The making and unmaking of the third

            world. (pp. 21-54.) Princeton: Princeton University Press,

Illich, I. (1968, April). To hell with good intentions. In an address to the conference on

             InterAmerican Student Projects (CIASP) in Cuernavaca, Mexico, on April (Vol. 20).

Illich, I. (1997). Development as planned poverty. In. M Rahnema & V. Bawtree (Eds.), The

             post-development reader (94-102). London: Zed Books

Pieterse, J. N. (2000). After post-development. Third World Quarterly, 21(2), 175-191.

Rahnema, M. (1997). Towards post-development: Searching for signposts, a

new language and new paradigms. In. M Rahnema & V. Bawtree (Eds.), The post

             development reader (377-404). London: Zed Books.

Shanin, T. (1997). The idea of progress. In. M Rahnema & V. Bawtree (Eds.), The post

             development reader (65-72). London: Zed Books.