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  • JASS
By: Srilatha Batliwala

Over the past fifty years of development history, we have seen the repeated distortion of good ideas and innovative practices as they are lifted out of the political and historical context in which they evolved and rendered into formulas that are “mainstreamed”. This usually involves divesting the idea of its cultural specificity, its political content, and generalizing it into a series of rituals and steps that simulate its original elements, but usually end up without the transformative power of the real thing. Thus good ideas – evolved to address specific development challenges – are altered into universally applicable panaceas. Transferring the right rhetoric – buzzwords and catch phrases emptied of their original meaning – is a vital part of this legerdemain. This is not to question the transfer and replication of effective interventions for social justice and development, but the manner and motives for which it is done.

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