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The Abnormal Distribution of Development: policies for Southern women and children

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This paper offers a feminist critique of the relationships between gender and development by exploring the intersections between three sets of debates: firstly, the relations between interventions for women and for children through the anomalous position accorded to 'the girl child' in aid and development policies; secondly, the relations between psychological and economic models of development; and thirdly, the gendered and geographical allocation of attributes and opportunities. Drawing on analyses of the 'psychological complex' I suggest that the cultural resources that inform developmental psychological models are highly cultural and class specific (white, middle class, of the northern hemisphere), giving rise to a globalisation of development that is reinscribed within international aid and development policies. In homogenising difference to its norms, this globalisation paradoxically reproduces the north-south opposition as an expression of cultural and political imperialism. While northern children 'develop', dominant discourses of children of the South are preoccupied with 'survival'. By such means the cultural hegemony of a unitary psychology remains intact. This paper discusses the 'abnormal distribution' of development to draw attention to the ways cultural and gender inequalities flow from the norms and generalised descriptions central to the current practice of developmental psychology and to urge that this is an important site of intervention for feminists addressing gender and development issues .
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 1995-03-01

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