Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs

Erin Beck ─ How Development Projects Persist: Everyday Negotiations with Guatemalan NGOs

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

4 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.

McKinney Conference Room

In How Development Projects Persist Erin Beck examines microfinance NGOs working in Guatemala and problematizes the accepted wisdom of how NGOs function. Drawing on twenty months of ethnographic fieldwork, she shows how development models and plans become entangled in the relationships among local actors in ways that alter what they are, how they are valued, and the conditions of their persistence. Beck focuses on two NGOs that use drastically different methods in working with poor rural women in Guatemala. She highlights how each program's beneficiaries—diverse groups of savvy women—exercise their agency by creatively appropriating, resisting, and reinterpreting the lessons of the NGOs to match their personal needs.

Erin Beck is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Oregon. Her research focuses on international development, microfinance, NGOs and gender-based violence in Latin America, with a particular focus on Guatemala. She is interested in how governmental and nongovernmental actors design institutions to enhance the wellbeing of populations marginalized on the basis of gender, ethnicity, and class, and how these institutions actually affect people's lives on the ground. Her work on international development has appeared in World Development, Latin American Politics & Society, Studies in Comparative International Development, and Sociology of Development. Her book, How Development Projects Persist: Everyday Negotiations with Guatemalan NGOs is available from Duke University Press. She is currently in the second year of a project that explores indigenous Guatemalan women's experiences of gendered violence and access to justice in Guatemala and the United States. This project seeks to understand why some women are able to access Guatemala's newly created Femicide and Violence against Women Courts whereas other women are blocked from access and end up fleeing as refugees in the United States.

Development and Governance Seminar