Thinking Small

Thinking Small: The United States and the Lure of Community Development

Daniel Immerwahr
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: Harvard University Press
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x0h4w
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  • Book Info
    Thinking Small
    Book Description:

    Daniel Immerwahr tells how the United States sought to rescue the world from poverty through small-scale, community-based approaches. He also sounds a warning: such strategies, now again in vogue, have been tried before, alongside grander moderization schemes—with often disastrous consequences as self-help gave way to crushing local oppression.

    eISBN: 978-0-674-73583-5
    Subjects: History, Business, Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. PREFACE: MODERNIZATION, DEVELOPMENT, AND COMMUNITY
    (pp. ix-xii)
  4. INTRODUCTION: ACTUALLY EXISTING LOCALISM
    (pp. 1-14)

    IN 1958, theSaturday Evening Postpublished serial installments of an unorthodox novel. It had no love story, little action, no single protagonist, and not much by way of a plot. Set in a fictional country in Southeast Asia, it dwelled mostly on embassy life, the relationship between nationalism and communism, foreign aid, and what Asians thought of the United States. But despite its unusual form and arid content,The Ugly American,by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick, shot onto the bestseller lists and remained there for seventy-eight weeks; by 1959, it was outselling even Vladimir Nabokov’s sensationalLolita....

  5. 1 WHEN SMALL WAS BIG
    (pp. 15-39)

    THE FUTURE looked bright from Anaheim in 1955. There, Walt Disney opened his long-awaited theme park, Disneyland, with its five “lands.” In one, Tomorrowland, Disney offered “a vista into a world of wondrous ideas.”¹ Forecasting the future of 1986, its attractions included the Flight to the Moon, Autopia, and the Hall of Chemistry. Disney accompanied it with a series of television programs—“Man in Space,” “Mars and Beyond,” and “Our Friend the Atom”—that U.S. military advisers and prominent technical consultants, such as the famed rocket scientist Wernher von Braun, had helped to write. The message of Tomorrowland and the...

  6. 2 DEVELOPMENT WITHOUT MODERNIZATION
    (pp. 40-65)

    THE AGE of development started big. In the valley of the Tennessee River, whose basin sprawls across eight states and is only slightly smaller than Guatemala, the U.S. government launched an enormous campaign of economic and ecological transformation. Starting in 1933, the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) hired tens of thousands of men to clear more than 175,000 acres of land, build more than 1,200 miles of highway, and excavate thirty million cubic yards of rock and earth.¹ At the center of this frenzy of construction stood a series of dams designed to irrigate the valley, generate billions of kilowatt-hours of...

  7. 3 PEASANTVILLE
    (pp. 66-100)

    IN 1952, a staff member in the U.S. embassy in New Delhi named Ellery Foster wrote a series of memoranda about what he took to be a looming crisis in India. The crisis was not one of the sort usually discussed—a failure of the monsoon, an epidemic, or a famine. It was, rather, a more deeply rooted problem: the erosion and imminent destruction of the local community. Centuries of feudalism and imperial rule, Foster warned, had so strained the local community that it was on the brink of extinction.¹ In this regard, India was coming to resemble the United...

  8. 4 GRASSROOTS EMPIRE
    (pp. 101-131)

    ON MAY 24, 1943—the four hundredth anniversary of Copernicus’s death—ten “modern pioneers of science” received citations for their contributions to “that democratic way of living which enabled such geniuses as Copernicus.”¹ The ceremony was a regal affair, staged in Carnegie Hall and featuring a message from President Roosevelt. The honorees included Albert Einstein, Walt Disney, John Dewey, Henry Ford, and Orville Wright. Yet one honoree stood out from the group. Unlike the others, he was not a household name and did not live in the United States. He was Y. C. James Yen, from Sichuan, China.

    Although not...

  9. 5 URBAN VILLAGES
    (pp. 132-163)

    IN JUNE 1962, John F. Kennedy ascended the dais at Yale’s commencement ceremony to deliver an address about the economy. It was more than an economic state of the union; it was a declaration of victory. Although previous generations had endured the “grand warfare of rival ideologies,” Kennedy maintained, the United States had entered a new era. Economic problems had revealed themselves to be “subtle challenges for which technical answers, not political answers, must be provided.”¹ The economy, in other words, was a math problem, and the economist John Maynard Keynes had largely solved it. Keynesian macroeconomic management and technological...

  10. EPILOGUE: WHAT IS DEAD AND WHAT IS UNDEAD IN COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT?
    (pp. 164-184)

    NEW YEAR’S EVE, 1965, caught Carl C. Taylor in a reflective mood, and he sat down to write a series of letters about the state of community development. There were only a handful of people in the world better qualified to hold forth on the topic. In the United States, Taylor had overseen a key division within the USDA’s Bureau of Agricultural Economics and had been president of the American Sociological Society. Abroad, he had observed and consulted on community development programs in twenty-one different countries on behalf of the United Nations, the United States, and the Ford Foundation.¹ He...

  11. NOTES
    (pp. 187-244)
  12. ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. 245-246)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 247-253)