The Narrative of Development
Updated: Sep 1, 2020
A brief reflection on the Western perspective and definition of development, during my immersive placement in Cambodia.
The definition of development changes each and every day as we as society progress and our needs change and continue to become more complex. As a result, the Western perspective of development can be considered inherently contentious.
Going into our home-stay on the island of Koh Pdao, I instinctively had the pre-judgement that their 'basic' way of living would in no way progress them as a society. However, having the privilege to fully immerse ourselves over a length of time within the village, my naive and ignorant values were challenged and shifted.
My pre-judgments were from my own perspective, obviously, but if we were to 'flip' the perspective, there was a lot more for us to learn. To approach development with the perspective that we are the developing, and villages, such as Koh Pdao are developed, we would write a very different narrative.
The village of Koh Pdao was far richer in other aspects of life. The people of Koh Pdao had mastered collectivism; they had created a strong sense of community. There was a non-material attachment, they were selflessly welcoming, generous and most importantly, in the present. They had developed significantly further in a lot more aspects of life than western society ever has, and ever will.
Although I acknowledge, that there are serious development issues within this village, if we flip the perspective at times, we can begin to have a better understanding of these communities and work together to meet the development needs that are necessary and needed. Not what WE think is required.
"They had developed significantly further in a lot more aspects of life than Western society ever has, and ever will. "
Let’s start to challenge the definition and narrative of development and empower those who are in the middle of it.