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Review of G. Clarke and M. Jennings (eds) (2008) 'Development, Civil Society and Faith-based Organizations: Bridging the Sacred and the Secular' (Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan)

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Review of G. Clarke and M. Jennings (eds) (2008) 'Development, Civil Society and Faith-based Organizations: Bridging the Sacred and the Secular' (Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan)
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   Book reviews  273  Progress in Development Studies  10, 3 (2010) pp. 267–77where it is shown how interventions have favoured large farms. Changes for farming in ‘globally peripheral regions’ (Chapter 8) are deemed to be more complex, although characterised by two main trends: state-led economic development and, due to external pressures, a change of policy (from the 1980s) towards a neo-liberal approach. Larger farms were again the main beneficiaries and numerous peasant farmers either left farming or sought additional non-farm income. Sandwiched between these two chapters is a review of collectivization in China. For those unfami-liar with the territory, it usefully describes a series of interventions implemented from 1955, including: land reform, residence permits, the Household Responsibility System and Township-Village Enterprises. This chapter captures well the strengths and weaknesses of this book – it is an excellent guide to the novice reader, eager to learn about, in this case, Chinese land reform, although the level of detail can occasionally swamp the more general reader seeking to understand why family farms have persisted as they have. The object of analysis, the family farm, can thus go slightly out of focus as the authors review related topics on, for example, contrasting state interventions.The latter chapters in the book explore some recent trends, including the way that environmentalism has become important to farming (Chapters 9 and 10). Farmers world-wide are increasingly viewed as ‘landscape custodians’, encouraged to protect biodiversity, reduce soil erosion and agricultural pollution and improve animal welfare standards. The authors show how this ‘agri-environmental wave’ has led to significant changes in subsidy payments in Europe and North America, although in other countries compensation has not been paid, despite increased regulation. The book does a good job of revealing these trends and also detects increasing de-agrarianization pressures in Africa and especially Asia (Chapter 12), where small farms have tended to opt for off-farm activities rather than trying to expand their farm enterprise. The authors suggest that this takes a different guise in Europe, ex-pressed through part-time farming, pluriactiv-ity and the ‘quality turn’.The authors bravely end by discussing future prospects for family farms. Their mes-sage is refreshingly upbeat, predicting that family farms will continue despite changes, with some likely to pursue more commercial and cost-sensitive measures, whilst others exploit direct marketing opportunities. Most, they suggest, will continue to develop mul-tiple income streams and will be suited to increasingly pressured markets because of their inherent flexibility. Overall, the book, thus, provides a comprehensive comparative historical analysis of family farms on an inter-national scale. Whilst one could question its ambition to provide a world-wide analysis, the detail and breadth of materials reviewed is impressive and it will prove a valuable re-source for those interested in the future of family farms, including scholars in both human geography and development studies.  Damian MayeCountryside and Community  Research InstituteUniversity of Gloucestershire Clarke, G.  and  Jennings, M. , editors, 2008:  Development, Civil Society and Faith-based Organizations: Bridging the Sacred and the Secular  . Hampshire and New York: Palgrave Macmillan. xx + 272 pp. £58.00 hardback. ISBN: 978 0 230 02001 6.10.1177/146499340901000310It seems remarkable that only a few years ago a student of development studies interested in the nexus of faith and development was forced to scavenge hard to find publications on the topic. Around the turn of the millen-nium the odd book and the journal article began appearing on the theme. Now this trickle is fast becoming something of a flood.  274  Book reviews Progress in Development Studies  10, 3 (2010) pp. 267–77  Development, Civil Society and Faith-based Organizations , edited by Clarke and Jennings, is a provocative recent collection of essays dealing with this area that deserves to be widely read in academia, policy circles, and by aid practitioners. Neglected no more, this volume firmly establishes the topic of faith and development as a legitimate, necessary and compelling field.The collection brings together a range of perspectives to consider specific faith-based organizations (FBOs) in their respective con-texts. A broad definition of FBOs is used which includes charitable organizations as well as political, missionary, representative and even terrorist groups (pp. 24–32). The collection is masterfully framed by the editors’ introduction and conclusion and both chapters deserve to be read in their own right for their careful mapping of the topic. In the background of many papers, lies an implicit concern, perhaps informed by the projects’ srcins in work funded by the UK Department for International Development, with the quandaries facing official donors, namely: What sort of FBOs are appropriate channels for official funds?Responding to this question, some of the papers make powerful pleas for the legitimacy of their subjects and call on donors to broaden out their partnerships with the world of religious organizations. Occasionally this is overplayed, as in Harb’s chapter on Hezbollah-related re-construction work in Lebanon following the  July–August war of 2006. In this account, remarkably, Harb fails to discuss or analyse the military role of the Hezbollah in that same conflict. To make the argument that foreign donor partnerships with Hezbollah-affiliated organizations ‘could be beneficial to all parties’ (p. 235), without sustained reflection on this issue, comes across as peculiarly naive. How-ever, given that Islamic NGOs have come under extreme scrutiny, during the ongoing ‘war of terror’ and the hysteria of US Treasury bans on financial flows to designated terrorist groups, a more impassioned defence is perhaps understandable.The book is at its best where the authors use their subjects to ponder larger questions about the nature of aid today. In a particularly incisive Chapter, Linden shows how there is a ‘close link between God-talk and the srcins of development talk’ (p. 78). The struggle facing donors timidly debating whether or how to work with religious organizations is, therefore, founded on a profound ‘ideological forgetfulness’ (p. 78) about their already ex-isting mutual interconnectedness. Hovland picks up this theme in a brilliant essay that directly addresses donor apprehension over funding the Norwegian Mission Society as a result of the Society being seen as ‘a significant and provocative threat to the “secular” basis of the Norwegian development project’ (p. 173). She argues that this deep fear of religion is premised upon the ‘ideological myth’ (p. 171) of the secular nature of modernity. In contrast, Hovland argues that ‘develop-ment itself has a mission – or even is a mission’ (p. 180).It is in these essays that the rich potential for exploring questions of faith in develop-ment is apparent. The topic is not just simply for those interested in an imagined religious sphere, for no simplistic dichotomy between the two will hold. Instead the secular-religious dynamic is implicated in all development work and the various ways in which this dynamic is negotiated in each specific context becomes a central issue of concern for all involved with the aid industry. On this issue, it would have been instructive to have also presented a case study of a faith-based donor to provide different, yet perhaps parallel, insights into donor dilemmas and challenges. Kroessin and Mohamed’s discussion of Saudi Arabian sup-port for religious NGOs in Somalia intimates toward these concerns.Clark’s chapter, on Islamic charity in Jordan, takes quite a different but equally perceptive   Book reviews  275  Progress in Development Studies  10, 3 (2010) pp. 267–77approach. Clark points out that the roles, func-tions and possibilities facing the charity at the center of her analysis are dependent upon the wider socio-political context including especially the charity’s relationship with the authoritarian Jordanian state. By viewing charitable organizations as embedded in wider webs of relationships, Clark implicitly challenges visions that would use checklists to assess FBO eligibility for donor funds. All decisions about appropriateness can only be made with reference to wider contexts.Clarke and Jennings make a powerful argument for building a ‘coalition of conviction’ (p. 16) across secular-religious divides in order to engage in the fight against poverty. Later, Clarke points to the difficulties facing this task: ‘[t]he challenge posed by the convergence of faith and development is to engage with faith discourses... which seem counter-development or culturally exotic to a secular and technocratic worldview’ (p. 41). Yet, the examples drawn upon in the volume tend not to push the edges of conventional paradigms very far. More radical religious visions of a ‘better world’ were largely left out of the dis-cussion in favor of those organizations that worked within categories comprehendible to the mainstream. This is a familiar theme within post-development debates and it seems that actively engaging with, rather than simply an imperialistic co-opting of, the religious Other, will indeed be an ongoing challenge. But a prime reason why faith and development is such a compelling topic, is precisely the poten-tial for alternatives that may stimulate further reflection, and occasionally also threaten de-velopment’s own orthodoxies.  Development, Civil Society and Faith-based Organizations makes a persuasive argument that we must all become far more comfort-able about engaging with religious concepts and discourse; that is, we need to get over our collective fear of religion.Development studies have been far too slow to take up these concerns and, as a result, lags behind other social sciences influenced by the recent ‘religious turn’. This book moves that process significantly forward. For this, it will long be remembered as book of great significance, perhaps even a classic.  Philip M. FountainSchool of Archaeology and Anthropology The Faculties The Australian National University Rai, S.M.  2008: The Gender Politics of Devel- opment . New Delhi: Zubaan; and London and New York: Zed Books.. vi + 216 pp. £60 cloth, £16.99 paper. ISBN 9781842778371 cloth, 9781842778388 paper. 10.1177/146499340901000311Although much of this work has been published elsewhere, this coherent collection of essays by Shirin Rai (and on occasion with colleagues) remains highly topical. Taken together, they form a comprehensive and very readable book that highlights many of the contradictory challenges facing women in post-colonial states. On the one hand, it appears that gender has been effectively mainstreamed into much of public policy and is now taken seriously by international institutions, such as the World Bank. However, on closer inspection, as Rai argues, gender equality is advocated merely as a means of harnessing women’s labour and improving incomes and productivity rather than addressing unequal gender and power relations. At the same time, it is important to determine to what extent challenges facing women’s groups really are a direct result of political and economic changes that have come to be associated with processes of ‘global-ization’ and what issues are related to longer term structural inequalities and differences. This book seeks to address these concerns and review mainstream debates around demo-cratization and globalization from a gender perspective.  Reproducedwithpermissionofthecopyrightowner.Furtherreproductionprohibitedwithoutpermission.
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