The Narrative of Development
Updated: Feb 22
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 a 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 for 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 were 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 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 the 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 needed.
"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.