The Development Industry and the Co-optation of Body Politics

  • Wendy Harcourt
Part of the Gender, Development and Social Change book series (GDSC)


The chapter interrogates the co-optation of feminist understandings of body politics in development practices and programs by constructing an ethnoscape of a recent South Asian training on gender, generations and sexuality. In a reflection on the potential of ruptures in the praxis of body politics, the chapter concludes with a consideration of how feminists can act from the ‘privilege of the middle’.


Development Industry Development Practice Body Politics Development Discourse Feminist Strategy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Antrobus, P. 2004. The Global Women’s Movement: Origins, Issues and Strategies, London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  2. Appadurai, A. 1990. ‘Disjuncture and Difference in the Global Cultural Economy’, Theory, Culture, Society, 7: 295–310.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Appadurai, A. 1996. Modernity at Large. Cultural Dimensions of Globalization, Minnesota: Public Planet Books.Google Scholar
  4. Baksh R. and W. Harcourt eds. 2015. Introduction’, OUP Handbook of Transnational Feminist Movements, Oxford, New York: OUP: 1–50.Google Scholar
  5. Carty, l. and C. T. Mohanty. 2015. Mapping Transnational Feminist Engagements: Neoliberalism and the Politics of Solidarity’ in Baksh R. and W. Harcourt. 2015 OUP Handbook of Transnational Feminist Movements, Oxford, New York: OUP (82–115).Google Scholar
  6. Connell, R. 2012. Transsexual women and feminist thought: Toward new understanding and new politics. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society. 37 (4):857–881.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Cornwall, A., Corrêa, S. and Jolly, S. eds. 2008. Development with a Body: Sexuality, Human Rights and Development. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  8. Cornwall, A. and Jolly, S. 2009. Sexuality and the development industry. Development, 52(1) 5–12.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Cornwall, A. 2007. Revisiting the Gender Agenda. IDS Bulletin 38 (2) March: 69–78.Google Scholar
  10. Coy, P.G. 2013. Co-optation. The Wiley-Blackwell Encyclopedia of Social and Political Movements. London: Wiley-Blackwell: 280–281.Google Scholar
  11. De Jong, S. 2016. Mainstream(ing) has never run clean, perhaps never can: Gender in the Main/Stream of Development. In Harcourt, W. ed. Palgrave Handbook on Gender and Development. London: Palgrave.Google Scholar
  12. De Jong, S. 2009. Intersections of Aid: Women NGO workers’ reflections on their work practices. CSSGJ Working Paper Series, University of Nottingham, Centre for the Study of Social and Global Justice.
  13. De Jong, S. and S. Kimm. 2015. Co-optation of Feminist Discourses and Practices. unpublished paper.Google Scholar
  14. Development 2009. Window on the World. Development ‘Sexuality and Development’ 52 (1). London: Palgrave Macmillan: 124–125.Google Scholar
  15. Escobar, A. 2012. Encountering Development. The Making and UnMaking of the Third World. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  16. Ferguson, L. 2015. “This is Our Gender Person”. The Messy Business of Working as a Gender Expert in International Development. International Feminist Journal of Politics 17(3): 380–397.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fraser, N. 2013a. Fortunes of feminism: From state-managed capitalism to neoliberal crisis. Brooklyn, New York: Verso Books.Google Scholar
  18. Fraser, N. 2013b. How feminism became capitalism’s handmaiden—and how to reclaim it’, The Guardian, Monday 14 October. (accessed 25 March, 2015)
  19. Fraser, N. and N. A. Naples. 2004. To understand the world and to change it: An Interview with Nancy Fraser. Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 29:1103–24.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Grewal I. and C. Kaplan. 2000. Postcolonial Studies and Transnational Feminist Practices’. Berkley: San Francisco State University and University of California. (accessed 25 March, 2015)
  21. Harcourt, W. 2009. Body Politics in Development: Critical debates in gender and development. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  22. Harcourt, W. 2005. The Body Politic in Global Development Discourse: A Women and Politics of Place Perspective. In Harcourt and Escobar A. eds. Women and the Politics of Place. Bloomfield CT: Kumarian Press: 32–47.Google Scholar
  23. Harding, S. 1991. Whose Science? Whose Knowledge? Thinking from Womens Live. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Hartmann, B. 1995. Reproductive Rights and Wrongs: The Global Politics of Population Control (revised). Massachussets: South End Press.Google Scholar
  25. Jolly, S., A. Cornwall and K. Hawkins eds. 2013. Women, Sexuality and the Political Power of Pleasure. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  26. Kothari, U. 2005. Authority and Expertise: The Professionalisation of International Development and the Ordering of Dissent. Antipode 37 (3): 425–426.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lind, A. ed. 2010. Development, Sexual Rights and Global Governance. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  28. MacKinnon K. 2011. Development Professionals in Northern Thailand, Singapore: National University of Singapore Press.Google Scholar
  29. Miller, A. M. 2004. Sexuality, Violence Against Women, and Human Rights: Women Make Demands and Ladies Get Protection. Health and Human Rights: An International Journal. 7(2):16–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mohanty, C.T. 1988. Under Western Eyes: Feminist Scholarship and Colonial Discourse. Feminist Review 30: 65–88.Google Scholar
  31. Mosse, D. 2004. Is Good Policy Unimplementable? Reflections on the Ethnography of Aid Policy and Practice. Development and Change 35(4): 639–671.Google Scholar
  32. Mosse D ed. 2011. Adventures in Aidland: The Anthropology of Professionals in International Development. New York: Berghahn.Google Scholar
  33. Mukhopadhyay, M. 2004. Mainstreaming Gender or streaming gender away: Feminists Marooned in the Development Business. IDS Bulletin, 35 (4): 95–103.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Naples N.A. 2013. It’s Not Fair!: Discursive Politics, Social Justice and Feminist Praxis SWS Feminist Lecture. Gender &Society, 27 (2): 133–157.Google Scholar
  35. Pereira, C. 2014. Changing Narratives of Sexuality: Contestations, Compliance and Women’s Empowerment, London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  36. Petchesky, R. 2002. Global Prescriptions. Gender health and human rights. London: Zed Books in association with UNRISD.Google Scholar
  37. Prügl, E. 2011. Diversity Management and Gender Mainstreaming as Technologies of Government, Politics & Gender, 7: 71–89.Google Scholar
  38. Roberts, A. 2015. The Political Economy of “Transnational Business Feminism”. International Feminist Journal of Politics, 17 (2): 209–231.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Rose, G. 1997. Situating Knowledges: Positionality, Reflexivities and Other Tactics. Progress in Human Geography, 21 (3): 305–320.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Shildrick, M. and J. Price. 1998. Vital Signs: Feminist Reconfigurations of the Bio/logical. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.Google Scholar
  41. Spivak, G.C. 2000. Claiming Transformation: Travel Notes with Pictures. In Ahmed, S. et. al.Transformations: Thinking Through Feminism. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Stirrat, R.L. 2008. Mercenaries, Missionaries and Misfits: Representations of development personnel. Critique of Anthropology 28(4): 406–425.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. SWIRCO et. al. 2015. Assessing, engaging and enacting worlds: Tensions in feminist method/ologies. International Feminist Journal of Politics 17 (1):158–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. True, J. 2012. The Political Economy of Violence Against Women. Oxford: OUP.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  45. Truong, T. and W. Harcourt. 2014. Negotiating Global Body Politics. Gender. Technology and Development. 18(1): 1–8.Google Scholar
  46. Wieringa, S. and H. Sivori eds. 2012. The Sexual History of the Global South: Sexual Politics in Africa, Asia and Latin America. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
  47. Woodward, A. E. 2012. Building velvet triangles: Gender and informal governance, in Chew, William L. & Mosslemans, B., Vesalius College 25 years of academic excellence in teaching and research, Brussels: Academic & Scientific Publishers.VUB-press: 145–170.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Wendy Harcourt
    • 1
  1. 1.ISSThe HagueThe Netherlands

Personalised recommendations