[10.28.19] History and Memory in Experiences of Development: Three Case Studies in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

Kankan Xie, Assistant Professor of Southeast Asian Studies, School of Foreign Languages, Peking University, presents History and Memory in Experiences of Development: Three Case Studies in South Sulawesi, Indonesia.

International Development Policy Lecture Series, School of International Studies, Peking University

Location: C109, School of International Studies, Peking University, Beijing, China

Time: 16:00-18:00, Monday, Oct. 28, 2019


International development programs increasingly seek to empower impoverished communities to improve their health care, schooling, and other public services as much with their local knowledge, capacities, and social capital as with any resources on offer from donors. Underlying this trend is a broader international commitment to bottom-up development in participation and partnership with intended beneficiaries. The effectiveness of these programs is commonly assessed with randomized controlled trials, which tend to assess the impact of a consistent cause on predetermined outcome measures. In this research, we took a different approach by conducting a series of ethnographic studies to understand an experimental participatory development program from the perspectives of the participants.

Based on an ethnographic research in South Sulawesi, Indonesia, this lecture explores how two rural communities experienced a healthcare-focused participatory development program comparatively and contrasts the two with the third village where the program is not offered. This study shows government attention matters to how citizens think of their efficacy and citizens' memory of past government performance often influences how they approach issues concerning community development. Historically, government support of the authoritarian era tended to go to relatively poorer communities, which allowed officials to more easily demonstrate progress to their superiors—a key criterion in their career advancement. Although such a historical pattern did not determine how citizens of the Reformasi period responded to our program, poorer communities, which were more familiar with receiving help from their government, tried relatively harder to work with their village administration on improving their access to quality care. In contrast, participants in wealthier communities put less effort into working with government and more on self-help approaches.