The Aga Khan Foundation and the global dissemination of the Village Organization

Emily Manetta, University of Vermont – Jonah Steinberg, University of Vermont

The Village Organization (VO) was put into practice in 1982 by the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme, to serve as the sole local channel for “participatory development” in Northern Pakistan. The VO is not a political form indigenous to the Pakistan Himalaya, but rather a form introduced by an exogenous institution working on the village level. In this paper we suggest that this model emerges directly from naturalized and now widely-distributed notions of “development” and public participation rooted in normative discourses of modernity. Our analysis stems both from ethnographic research in Pakistan, with comparative material from the Tajikistan Himalaya, as well as an examination of the discourse found in a wide range of publications and newsletters circulated by the parent non-governmental organization (NGO), the Aga Khan Foundation. – excerpt from the article –

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