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Spirit of Development: Protestant NGOs, Morality, and Economics
are important sources of humanitarian aid in Africa, entering where
the welfare programs of weakened states fail to provide basic services.
As collaborators and critics of African states, religious NGOs occupy
an important structural and ideological position. They also, however,
illustrate a key irony—how economic development, a symbol of science,
progress, and this-worldly material improvement, borrows heavily
from other-worldly faith.
Through a study
of two transnational NGOs in Zimbabwe, this book offers a nuanced
depiction of development as both liberatory and limiting. Humanitarian
effort is not a hopeless task, but behind the liberatory potential
of Christian development lurks the sad irony that change can bring
its own disappointments.
While rapt attention
has been given to the supposed role of NGOs in democratizing Africa,
few studies engage with the ground operations. Questioning the assumption
that economic development is a move away from religious mysticism
toward the scientific promise of progress, the author offers a remarkable
account of development that is neither defeatist nor comforting.
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