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Jamal, Imran (2022) Developing Moralities: An Ethnographic Study of New Elite Development Actors in Bangladesh. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This thesis explores young Bangladeshi new elite actors in development and how they conceptualise and practice new modalities of development. By working with a group of actors who are often overlooked when studying development, especially in the context of the Global South where the what and how is the primary focus rather than the who and why, I to demonstrate the importance of local elites in shaping and transforming the nature and practice of development. Based primarily on two organisational ethnographies in NGOs in Dhaka, and drawing on the anthropology of elites, development and morality, I illustrate how the new elite actors work primarily with urban, middle-class young people to cultivate market-oriented subjectivities. This marks a shift in local development practice which has tended to focus on rural, poor actors and the provision of services. This shift is occurring within a broader context of economic and social change in Bangladesh, as the country is striving to achieve middle-income status. I situate the new elite actors within a changing landscape of elites in Bangladesh to explore formations and reproduction of eliteness, particularly with regards to elite development workers. Following this, I explore how new elite-led organisations mark certain continuities and departures from older NGOs and development workers. Drawing on my ethnographies, I provide an account for how different organisations try to differentiate themselves from one another through the use of affective capital at large public events aimed at middle- and upper-middle class actors. Further drawing upon affect and emotions, I highlight how elite and non-elite actors navigate the tensions and contradictions in cultivating ethical-moral subjectivities through development practice, either at their places of work or via voluntary engagement. I place the practice of subjectivity formation by the organisations in which I work, within the broader national context of nationalism and neo-liberalism, to demonstrate how organisational cultivation of market-oriented subjectivities of young people is linked to emerging forms of citizenship cultivation in Bangladesh.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: Departments and Subunits > Department of Anthropology & Sociology
SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: David Mosse
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 15 Mar 2022 15:02

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