Debating Development

13 04 2014

On Friday, April 11, I joined faculty and students at Virginia Tech in a mini-conference to debate “Development and Humanitarianism.” The event was hosted by Prof. Brett Shadle and Prof. Patricia Nickel to bring together researchers who engage in critical examinations of development and humanitarianism, and researchers who engage in development and humanitarian work. I fall into the latter group, which is why it was a pleasure to meet Prof. Ilan Kapoor (the keynote speaker) and learn more about his postcolonial view on development. 

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Congratulations Emily Van Houweling!

4 04 2013

On March 29, Emily Van Houweling successfully defended her dissertation entitled “Gender, Water, and Development: The multiple impacts and perspectives of a rural water project in Nampula, Mozambique.”

Emily was a doctoral candidate in the Planning, Governance, and Globalization (PGG) program at Virginia Tech, and over the past several years has become a highly valued team member on two large-scale research projects in Senegal and Mozambique. The slide show below provides a few pictures of Emily in the field.

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Development organizations claim that rural water projects deliver a wide variety of benefits – from poverty reduction to women’s empowerment. Emily’s research explores these claims in the context of a rural water project (RWP) in Nampula, Mozambique. From August of 2011 to July of 2012, Emily spent 11 months conducting ethnographic research in five communities where handpumps were installed as part of the RWP. The goal of her research was to describe how the water project unfolds “on the ground” from the perspective of men and women in Nampula, and illuminate the social and gender related impacts of the project that are not captured in standard evaluations. Emily’s research contributes to theoretical debates about the relationship between gender, water, and development, and also offers practical suggestions for designing water projects that are more equitable, culturally sensitive, and sustainable.

I served as the chair of Emily’s dissertation committee along with committee members Maria Elisa Christie, Keith Moore, and Brett Shadle.