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Against NGOs: A Critical Perspective on Civil Society, Management and Development



What would development look like if its practitioners and scholars were 'against NGOs,' challenging common sense about them? This seminar presents a critical perspective on NGOs, describing how they emerged as key agents of development over time. Through an interpretative history based on Gramscian concepts, it shows how civil society organizations were gradually enlisted in development as non-state technocratic actors. Professor Nidhi Srinivas argues that management studies and development studies emerged as commonsensical explanations for capitalist crises. Each offered complementary solutions to balance the needs of capital and society, in particular historical circumstances. These solutions also situated civil society as agents of development and vectors of management.


In a tight exchange between Nidhi Srinivas, Ugo Mattei, and the students of the International University College of Turin, the discussion raises provocative questions on what forms of knowledge-politics can respond productively to the crises of our contemporary moment.

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