Thinking big in Newcastle

In: Uncategorized

18 Mar 2007

Yesterday I spoke at the worldwide premiere of Think Big, a new documentary by Worldwrite, at an event organised by the Great Debate in Newcastle (see 4 January post). The film shows how Ghanaians have the same ambitions and needs as Westerners. Like those in the developed world they want comfortable homes, access to modern technology and fulfilling worse. Only in a relatively poor country like Ghana it is harder to achieve such goals.

Like most Western audiences those in Newcastle said they were all in favour of development. Yet, also in a typical way, they then raised concerns about corruption, the environment, inequality and indigenous culture. I countered by arguing that the debate about development nowadays does not typically take the form of a clash between those who are in favour and those who are consciously against. Instead the mainstream view redefines development in a narrower way in response to the kinds of concerns outlined above. So what today passes for “development” is in fact hostile to the genuine modernisation, urbanisation and industrialisation of poorer societies.

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