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Development's Paradox: is Washington DC a Third World city?

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This article examines an urban centre in the heart of the First World through a critical development lens. It contends that traits of the Third World entail certain characteristics which remain consequential as axes of analysis for a variety of economic, political and geographic settings, including new applications in contexts that are typically excluded from the focus of international development practice and scholarship. The article discusses characteristics of ‘third worldality’ in relation to Washington DC. It posits that, despite being emblematic as a power centre, the city exhibits many of the characteristics of a Third World city. Highlighting disenfranchisement, socioeconomic inequality, and environmental health issues, the article reveals a paradox: underdevelopment in the heart of the ‘developed’ world. The article calls for greater recognition of the paradoxes of development theory and practice so as to confront persistent problems of orientalism and lack of self-reflexivity in the field of international development.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of International Service (sis),American University, 4400 Massachusetts Ave, NWWashingtonDC20016, USA

Publication date: October 1, 2011

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