4 Solar spectating: the witnessing of development success I concluded the last chapter with the suggestion that part of the College’s success depended on its ability to thread seemingly disparate positions into a coherent narrative, allowing it to adjust its position in accordance with a changing development landscape. In this chapter I consider the material means by which the College disseminates its heterotopic spectacles of development and enrols donors and supporters. Drawing upon Shapin and Schaffer’s (1985) concept of the ‘virtual witness’, I argue that
without it he could only get low-paying, temporary jobs, like those in the back of the warehouse where he was out of sight from labour inspectors. Abbas was a trained engineer with experience in solar panel installation in Yemen. He once found a job installing solar panels in South Jordan through a local gig platform, Open Sooq, but was paid only half of the agreed rate. Without a work permit, he had no legal pathway to complain. He tried to apply for
the social reproduction of the precariat by substituting for an absent fixed-grid ( Jacobsen, 2015 ). Together with cash-transfer programmes ( Lavinas, 2013 ), this includes biometric registration and experimentation with block-chain authentication as a means of managing aid and work entitlements ( Dodgson and Genc, 2017 ). Solar power lighting and charging solutions are widely marketed together with portable ceramic water filtration systems ( Redfield, 2015 ). Replacing a need for medically-staffed feeding centres, take-away mother
’ , GeoJournal , 80 : 4 , 491 – 502 . Cross , J. ( 2013 ), ‘ The 100th Object: Solar Lighting Technology and Humanitarian Goods’ , Journal of Material Culture , 18 : 4 , 367 – 87 . Dijkzeul , D. and Sandvik , K
Through an ethnographic study of the Barefoot College, an internationally renowned non-governmental development organisation (NGO) situated in Rajasthan, India, this book investigates the methods and practices by which a development organisation materialises and manages a construction of success. Paying particular attention to the material processes by which success is achieved and the different meanings that they act to perform, this book offers a timely and novel approach to how the world of development NGOs works. It further touches upon the general discrediting of certain kinds of expertise, moving the book beyond an anthropology of development to raise wider questions of general interest.
The author argues that the College, as a heterotopia and a prolific producer of various forms of development media, achieves its success through materially mediated heterotopic spectacles: enacted and imperfect utopias that constitute the desires, imaginings and Otherness of its society.
Founded by the charismatic figure of Bunker Roy, the Barefoot College has become a national and global icon of grassroots sustainable development. With a particular focus on the Barefoot College’s community-managed, solar photovoltaic development programme, this book considers the largely overlooked question of how it is that an NGO achieves a reputation for success.
6 Replication and its troubles In August 2007, as part of the Indian Technical Economic Cooperation (ITEC) and Special Commonwealth African Assistance Programme (SCAAP) agreement, and in conjunction with an international NGO, eighteen solar photovoltaic (PV) systems were installed in the village of Kafenkeng, the Gambia, West Africa, and a further fifty-seven systems in the nearby village of Kankurang by two Barefoot solar engineers (BSEs) trained at the Barefoot College. The vice president of the Gambia inaugurated the systems at a ceremony in September of
, the challenges of serving a widely dispersed population and the financial unviability of extending the grid to remote and inaccessible areas (Nouni et al. 2008: 1189). ‘Power for all’ remains an unfulfilled ambition. Included in this strategy, however, is the allowance of stand-alone systems ‘independent of the regulatory regime’ (Ministry of Power, n.d.), including biomass, hydro and solar energy systems at the village level. Such strategies are not without their own difficulties, particularly in the case of solar energy, which typically necessitates high up
5 Circuits of knowledge Lakshmi, forty-five years old, works in the solar workshop of the Barefoot College, assembling and testing lanterns, lamps and charge controllers. She was born in the nearby village of Tilonia, where she still lives with her elderly parents and three children. As a widow, she is the sole household breadwinner. Unable to attend formal school during the day as a child due to her household chores, she enrolled in the local night school run by the College in her village. After completing night school, she worked as a labourer in the marble
passed since Peter Solar, in a stimulating revisionist analysis of the English Old Poor Law, made a forceful case for the role it played in facilitating the distinctive character of pre-industrial economic success, achieved by Bayly 03_Tonra 01 21/06/2011 10:19 Page 77 77 The relative efficacy of poor relief provisions under the English Old Poor Law what Wrigley has termed England’s primarily ‘organic economy’ (Solar 1995, Wrigley 2006). Solar made a claim that, when comparisons are made between English poor relief and other systems of poverty alleviation to be
light therapy or ‘scientific light treatment’, representing a rarely depicted but crucial component: the solar erythema (‘sunburn’). 3 Shifting and shifty, physicians’ attitudes towards solar erythema as simultaneously dangerous and desirable persist throughout light therapy’s history. Historically, ‘sunburn’ was variously defined as erythema caloricum (heat erythema), photoelectricum (the electric effects of light