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Imperial Nature

Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization

Copyright Date: 2005
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 384
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  • Book Info
    Imperial Nature
    Book Description:

    Why is the World Bank so successful? How has it gained power even at moments in history when it seemed likely to fall? This pathbreaking book is the first close examination of the inner workings of the Bank, the foundations of its achievements, its propensity for intensifying the problems it intends to cure, and its remarkable ability to tame criticism and extend its own reach.

    Michael Goldman takes us inside World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C., and then to Bank project sites around the globe. He explains how projects funded by the Bank really work and why community activists struggle against the World Bank and its brand of development. Goldman looks at recent ventures in areas such as the environment, human rights, and good governance and reveals how-despite its poor track record-the World Bank has acquired greater authority and global power than ever before.

    The book sheds new light on the World Bank's role in increasing global inequalities and considers why it has become the central target for anti-globalization movements worldwide. For anyone concerned about globalization and social justice,Imperial Natureis essential reading.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-13209-0
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Preface
    (pp. vii-xx)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xxi-xxiv)
  5. I Introduction: Understanding World Bank Power
    (pp. 1-45)

    In June 1995 I was an observer in a two-week training workshop on “environmental economics and economy-wide policymaking” at World Bank headquarters in Washington, D.C. Most of the invited participants came from Anglophone Africa—Ethiopia, Tanzania, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Kenya, Uganda, and South Africa—and two from Russia and Chile, countries that would be hosting future training workshops.

    Every two hours for the next two weeks, new learning modules were presented by experts from the World Bank, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Worldwatch Institute, and other Washington-based agencies. The workshop started out with a learning module on “imagining a...

  6. II The Rise of the Bank
    (pp. 46-99)

    As World Bank/IMF officials gathered in Washington, D.C., for the 1995 annual meetings in the face of an ailing global economy the mood was anything but grim. The meetings marked the fifty-first anniversary of the Bretton Woods conference, which led to the establishment of these institutions and the Bank’s stewardship of the global development project. But the party had its gatecrashers—an energetic global activist network that stormed downtown Washington with an impressive “50 Years Is Enough” campaign. The protesters successfully undermined the anniversary celebration and shocked the complacent Bank and IMF leadership. Over time they have played a major...

  7. III Producing Green Science inside Headquarters
    (pp. 100-150)

    As a data collector, the World Bank is unrivaled, sending missions abroad to study everything from government budgets to ownership records for village lands. Much of this information is not actually published by the Bank, largely because governments consider such disclosures to be national security risks, but the Bank’s published reports do not hesitate to draw conclusions from this exclusive information. The Bank, therefore, is doubly well situated as the largest “research” organization in the world with such remarkable access, yet one that is unable (and unwilling) to release its coveted data, imbuing its reports, conclusions, and policy statements with...

  8. IV The Birth of a Discipline: Producing Environmental Knowledge for the World
    (pp. 151-180)

    On Christmas Day in 1990, five thousand villagers threatened by forced resettlement and their supporters set off on a “long march” to a dam site in India’s Narmada River Valley, hoping to close down the Sardar Sarovar Dam construction project (Baviskar 1995; McCully 1996; Udall 1995). Eight days into their walk, police blocked their passage, many were beaten,140 were arrested, and 8 began a hunger fast on the side of the road. Twenty-one days later, with the local police and the national government refusing to budge, the dam’s financier in Washington, D.C.—the World Bank—agreed to commission its first-ever...

  9. V Eco-Governmentality and the Making of an Environmental State
    (pp. 181-220)

    A hand-drawn map of Lao People’s Democratic Republic prepared for the World Bank by a prominent environmental organization does not demarcate the nation’s capital, its towns, or villages. The only cartographic markings are round, oblong, and kidney-shaped, each labeled with initials, such as WB, SIDA, WCS, and IUCN. That these splotches reflect the rezoning of nearly one-fifth of the territory of Laos for conservation, and that these symbols are abbreviations for the World Bank, Swedish International Development agency,Wildlife Conservation Society, and IUCN World Conservation Union, tell an important political story about new efforts to classify, colonize, and transnationalize territory in...

  10. VI Privatizing Water, Neoliberalizing Civil Society: The Power of Transnational Policy Networks
    (pp. 221-271)

    “Africa—do you want to make a difference?” reads the headline of an advertisement in theEconomistin the January 25, 2003, issue. Under this heading, Oxfam UK is looking for a governance and civil society adviser, and on the next page the African Development Bank is searching for a Sustainable Development and Poverty Reduction unit head. Historically, most professionals in the field of development were trained in agricultural or development economics, with experience in irrigation, forestry, or the like. Today, however, the market is demanding professionals equipped with expertise in neoliberal forms of public-sector privatization, good governance, and civil-society...

  11. VII Conclusion: Can It Be Shut Down?
    (pp. 272-292)

    Few moments in history rival this moment, a time when so many diverse people have come together to challenge the existence of a single institution. Such worldwide unity is a direct consequence of the Bank’s enormous reach and highly invasive work practices. This oppositional political momentum could only have been produced within the milieu of the Bank’s latest development regime of green neoliberalism—a regime that is embedded in and emboldened by the rapacious accumulation strategies of global capital. Although the Bank’s earlier regime of structural adjustment and debt management was draconian and poverty-inducing, it was an insufficient “hothouse” for...

  12. Notes
    (pp. 293-316)
  13. Bibliography
    (pp. 317-344)
  14. Index
    (pp. 345-360)