Culture and Development

DEVS 240/3.0


This course explores the relationship between “culture” and “development” as concepts and practices and where they intersect. We examine how meanings of ‘the West,’ ‘civilized,’ ‘development,’ ‘modernization,’ ‘progress,’ ‘poverty,’ ‘tradition,’ ‘First World’ and ‘Third World’ are constructed and contested concepts. The course will exam how culture has been thought of historically within development ideas and practice as well as its contemporary manifestations.  Moreover we examine how colonial perceptions and practices still imbue much development discourse today and how might they be more effectively challenged.

The course focuses on key sites where culture has been deployed to promote development and how these interact with economic policy and political change. Topics include human rights, tourism, digital culture, food, music and sports. Students will be able to research a wide range of other cultural phenomena as it relates to development for their major research project.

Please note: This course will have 1 hour of synchronous lecture per week (on Mondays at 5:30 pm EST). Attendance is optional as these lectures will be recorded and uploaded to the course in OnQ.

Learning Outcomes

Learning Outcomes

After completing DEVS 240, students will be better equipped to:

  • Identify, employ and analyze core analytic concepts pertaining to “culture” and “global development”
  • Recall and describe how and why development is contested idea and how cultural dimensions are tied to its deployment for political and economic purposes.
  • Identify and breakdown cultural biases within global development discourses
  • Demonstrate through examinations, discussion forms and written work, the relationship between material and representational inequalities that shape “development”
  • Analyze how culture is implicated in development policy and local political organizing
  • Communicate effectively about issues related to culture and global development through discussion, multimedia, and in academic writing





1. Introduction1What is Culture? What is Development? How do they matter together?
2. Culture and Development: Ideas and Practice2Colonialism, Culture, Orientalism, and "The West"
3Modernization Theory and the Invention of Poverty
4Globalization, Disjuncture, and Difference
5Hegemony and Cultural Policy
6Counter-Hegemony and Alternative Development
3. Culture and Development in Practice7Human Rights and Gender
8Working in Development
4. Topics in Culture and Development9Food
11Digital Culture
12Course Summary