Development is about change, and lives immersed in researching international development should be prepared for exploration, for discovering the unexpected, and for questioning the direction that ‘development’ is taking. Robert Chambers reflects on experiences, which led him to examine personal biases and predispositions, and he challenges readers to examine the pervasive significance of power in forming and framing knowledge. Into the Unknown reflects on the journey of learning, and encourages readers to learn from observation, curiosity, critical feedback, play and fun. Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) have benefited from sharing practice, innovations and experience through participatory workshops. This book includes tips on how to lead and convene workshops that can co-generate knowledge and have an influence. Into the Unknown will be of interest to development professionals, including academics, students, NGO workers and the staff of international agencies.
Table of Contents
Prelims (Preface/ Acknowledgements/ Abbreviations and acronyms)
Part I Exploring experience
1 Critical reflections of a development nomad
2 Power, knowledge and policy influence: reflections on an experience
3 Ignorance, error and myth in South Asian irrigation: critical reflections on experience
Part II Exploring learning
4 Learning about learning
5 Participatory workshops: teaching, learning and large groups
6 Exploring the co-generation of knowledge: critical reflections on PRA and CLTS
Part III Into the new unknown
7 Exploring for our faster future world
Back Matter (References/ Index)
‘This is a wonderful book of deep insight, sharp reflection and above all renewed call to action. Robert Chambers is one of the great explorers of our age, brave enough to pass into new landscapes of thought and ideas, capable enough to explain how poor people could live their lives if only they had the opportunity.’
Jules Pretty, Professor of Environment and Society, University of Essex
‘This is a fascinating and inspiring journey into participation, learning and social transformation. Chambers is a quintessential practitioner, thinker, learner and provocateur. I believe that this latest addition to Robert's collections will stimulate a new generation of development practitioners in an era of “doom and gloom” today.’
Dr Rajesh Tandon is founder-President of Participatory Research in Asia.
‘Robert Chambers introduces us to an art of exploratory rock climbing called “development practice” – a practice that knows many teachers. Few, however, show the humour and self-reflexivity of Chambers in these profoundly humanist memoirs by a unique development practitioner.’
Louk Box is former Rector of the International Institute of Social Studies and currently Distinguished Fellow at the University of South Africa’s Chair in Development Education.
‘With his infectious optimism and lucid, insightful – and often highly entertaining – prose, Robert Chambers has given us yet another book that is set to become a classic. Of all of his works, this is my favourite, not only for its reflexive engagement and for the inspiring example Robert gives us of looking for lessons from where things went wrong, but also for what it exhorts us to do: to engage our imaginations, our passions and our curiosity to create a better, fairer world.’
Andrea Cornwall is Professor of Anthropology and International Development, University of Sussex, UK.
‘A brilliant book. Robert Chambers draws on his personal journeys in rural development to provide searing insights into the pervasive blind spots and myths that hamper development efforts worldwide, and ways to overcome them. Into the Unknown will inspire both seasoned and burgeoning explorers in rural development and encourage them to find truer pathways forward.’
Roberto Lenton, Founding Executive Director, Robert B. Daugherty Water for Food Institute at the University of Nebraska, USA
‘In this book, Robert Chambers refers to himself as ‘an explorer’ and poignantly reflects on his incredible half-century career of ‘exploration’. Like other great explorers, Robert has opened new frontiers – of knowledge, methodology, self-reflection and learning. In this latest book, he inspires and challenges other development practitioners also to become explorers – not to follow his path, but to create their own paths towards a new 21st century development project.’
John Gaventa, Director, Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University, Canada,
and Professor (on leave), Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.