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Negotiating Religion and Development Identity Construction and Contention in Bolivia
: Arnhild Leer-Helgesen
: Area Studies, Development Studies, Humanities, Politics & International Relations, Social Sciences
: 2019
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This book argues that relationships between religion and development in faith-based development work are constructed through repeated processes of negotiation. Rather than being a neat and tidy relationship, faith-based development work is complex and multifaceted: an ongoing series of negotiations between theological interpretations and theories of human development; between identities as professional practitioners and as believers; between different religious traditions at local, regional and international levels; and between institutional structures and individual agency. In particular, the book draws on a deep ethnographic study of Christian faith-based development work in the Bolivian Andes. The case study highlights the importance of seeing theological interpretations as being firmly embedded in local religious and cultural systems involved in a constant process of identity construction. Overall, the book argues that religion should not be seen as homogeneous, or either 'good' or 'bad' for development; instead, we must recognise that institutional faith-based identities are constructed in many ways, formal, theological and interpersonal, and any tensions between ‘religious’ and ‘development’ goals must be worked through in an ongoing recognition of that complexity. This book will be of interest to researchers working in development studies and religious studies, as well as to practitioners and policymakers with an interest in faith-based development work.


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