Solar spectating
The witnessing of development success
in An ethnography of NGO practice in India
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This chapter considers how the Barefoot College enrols donors and supporters through the act of witnessing and the use of Callon’s (1986) notion of translation. Drawing upon Shapin and Schaffer’s (1985) concept of the virtual witness, it is argued that the College’s success depends largely on the visual spectacle of its lamps and solar training to enrol supporters worldwide. The College achieves this firstly through the limited capacity of first-hand witnessing in the solar training workshop, and secondly (and more significantly) through the virtual witnessing of solar projects by the interpretive community of partners and donors worldwide via multi-media activities including literary technologies, but also short films and presentations made available on video-sharing websites and DVD.

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