So Long, Development, and Thanks for All the Fish.

litbonanza.jpgAid: Give a man a fish, he’ll eat for a day.

Development: Teach a man to fish, he’ll eat for a lifetime.

Modernization: If we could teach that man to be just like us I bet he’d fish great.

Women In Development: Teach a man to fish, he’ll foolishly drink the profits away. Teach a woman to fish, her and the kids will eat too. Women will be liberated by the fishing industry. Millions of fish escape us each year because women’s labour is not sufficiently exploited as a resource.

Gender And Development: The cultural and gender roles of women and men are complex and interrelated with their manner of fishing, and thus an important consideration in planning a fishing trip. Women should fish in the main part of the stream.

Post-Colonial Development: The First World stole all our fish in the first place, and they continue to invent new and imaginative ways to purloin our fish, so please just lay off about our so-called fishing failures.

Neo-Colonial Development: Europe has stolen our fish for generations and we the People’s Liberators will no longer submit to this humiliation! Now will each peasant please fork over 20 fish…the People’s Liberators need to repopulate their goldfish pool on the French Riviera.

Sustainable Development: Where are all these fish supposed to come from anyways? According to David Suzuki, if everyone fished like North Americans we’d need 700 oceans!

Economic Trade and Development: If you give me 3 trout and I give you 2 salmon, we’ll each end up with a boatful of caviar.

Post-Development: Just who the hell are you to tell these people how to fish? They have been fishing for generations upon generations and now you come along and tell them what to do? Who says they want your big trollers anyways when their hand-nets seem to work just fine? …What do you mean, “high rate of infant mortality?”. Don’t impose your Western bias on their lifestyle!

Development as Freedom: Maybe…we should try…asking these fishers what they want?

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Kerrie Thornhill Hop Wo grew up on Vancouver Island and graduated from UBC's International Relations program. Although she is currently a Program Coordinator for Calgary Immigrant Women's Association in Calgary, her heart remains in West Africa where she volunteered and worked in the field of gender and development. She finds her nine-to-five job easy and is worried about re-adjusting to graduate school next year.

8 Responses to “So Long, Development, and Thanks for All the Fish.”

  1. Alan B

    The weird thing is that “Post-Colonial Development” sounds exactly like some locals in BC. Not naming any names. And “Sustainable Development” sounds like the eco-footprint folks (William Rees [of UBC] et al). Interesting, the more they sound like real people the less funny they are to me…

  2. Angelina

    Yeah, it’s kind of creepy how they sound like real people. I’m pretty sure the fishers just want to reel in their daggum fish and make a living. :/

  3. Kerrie

    It’s satire.

    I should really get that tattooed on my forehead.

  4. jo gorton

    Kerry your amazing as ever. Hilarious…. I commission a cartoon. I do have some issues though… Development as Freedom is a good thing- but abstract and no doubt trickier to begin implementing past the walls of theoretical development classes at Sen’s home university cambridge. Did you find that the more time you spent outside of university the less you appreciated post-modernist thought? Especially while you were in West Africa?

  5. Kerrie

    Hey again Jo!!

    I think Amartya “Marty” Sen has more to offer in the sense of “guiding principles” than a concrete plan of action or change. I’ve never been too hung up on that. Personally, I have found it useful to have some major abstract frameworks or philosophies to look to when a difficult question arises. As if there are any easy questions.

    As for the post-modern thought, I’ll have to get back to you on that one by email some time. I never completely drank the kool-aid on postmodernism, well maybe a sip or two. I spent much of fourth year university saying “now now, let’s not point fingers at whose society is sexist, don’t categorize men as being all oppressive, blah blah blah”. Now, and this will shock you to your core, I am even more unapologetically feminist than before. There is no excuse for the oppression of women-anywhere. Living in West Africa made me more cynical, towards the West, towards Ghana/Africa, towards development work-but also more determined than ever. There’s a lot of bullshit, but then you also meet the occasional person who is so brilliant and determined that you have to stick with it and try to follow their example.

    I think there is an awful lot of crap development work being done out there, but that’s why people who care about things like Dev As Freedom need to stay in the field, so we can go get PhDs, rise to the top of our professions, and start bossing the NGOs around! Hey you, World Food Programme-you call a warehouse in Accra local procurement? You’re fired, and I’m replacing you with a woman from the community who knows what she’s doing!


  6. Leigh-Anne

    I printed this out and passed it around to the early birds at a meeting of my AIDS collective. It was very well received and I thought you might want to know that.

    It’s a wonderfully witty article, Kerrie.

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