Muhammad Ali Zaidi

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PhD Student

Institute of Development Research and Development Policy
Ruhr-University Bochum
Universitätsstr. 105, Room 2.23 / 2.24 / 2.27 / 2.32
44789 Bochum


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Phone: +49 (0)234 / 32-26163

Fax: +49 (0)234 / 32-14294

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Research Interests

  • Ecologically Sustainable Rural, Freshwater and Costal Livelihood
  • Civil Society & Politics of Development
  • NGOs amid Rural Development Culture
  • People-led Development
  • Post-development Theory
  • Visual Ethnography

Research Project

Negotiating development: A trans-sequential ethnography of development in Pakistan


‘Development’ is considered as an ethnocentric approach in the course of which a ‘western agenda’ is promoted and reproduced, and political, cultural and social realities in so-called developing countries are ignored. Moreover, the leading academia lays emphasis on the development students to look beyond ‘development’ in order to probe the answers to the fundamental questions of ‘underdevelopment’. However, the notion of development aggregates different conceptual frameworks in accordance with the ground realities and the backgrounds of development apparatus including actors and institutions.

Albeit Pakistan has become one of the top aid recipients in the world, receiving development aid from a wide range of sources and has a huge number of non-government structures, but the country still lacks the availability of thick anthropological descriptions of the sector unlike other South Asian countries. The PhD project is an attempt to examine the development process in Pakistan by critically researching the interfaces of development apparatus as ‘developer’ and community ‘to be developed’. In the contemporary arena of multilateral development, non-government organizations (NGOs) are viewed as important actors of international development which gain sway as cultural broker. This projected will be questioning that how the international development discourse and apparatus meets with the communities of rural south of Pakistan? In what manners non-government organizations play mediatory role in between local communities and international development organizations and in what way it influences the indigenous culture and knowledge?

This requires an ethnographic investigation, in the course of which two levels of analysis will be distinguished; at the first level, the concept(s) of development within the scholarly discourse on development will be examined and try to comprehend its relative significance in the context of Pakistan. However, at the second level, the structure of the channel and actors of development will be epistemologically analyzed by the collection of trans-sequential ethnographic data from the international development apparatus, local NGOs and the rural communities of the northern and central Sindh, Pakistan.

Supervisor: Prof. Dr. Eva Gerharz