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Governing through developmentality: the politics of international aid reform and the (re)production of power, neoliberalism and neocolonial interventions in Ghana Open Access


Other title
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Mawuko-Yevugah, Lord
Supervisor and department
Smith, Malinda (Political Science)
Examining committee member and department
Knight, Andy (Political Science)
Aitken, Rob (Political Science)
Harder, Lois (Political Science)
Smith, Malinda (Political Science)
Abrahamsen, Rita (School of International Development & Global Studies, University of Ottawa)
Abdi, Ali (Educational Policy Studies)
Department of Political Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
The international donor community led by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has in the last decade or so intensified and consolidated its promotion of ‘poverty reduction’ as the central focus of international aid. The two institutions claim that this new approach is radically different from the top-down structural adjustment policies of the preceding two decades. Drawing on the West African state of Ghana, this study interrogates the arguments, policies, practices, evolution and implementation of this new architecture of aid. Drawing on the critical social theory of Michel Foucault and postcolonial scholars, the study concludes that contemporary discourses about, and practices of, poverty reduction in Africa and elsewhere represent an attempt to discursively (re)produce the global South in ways that justify and legitimize Western interventions through the imposition of neoliberal reforms. I interrogate discontinuities and continuities in the new aid and development agenda in order to show that what is produced and maintained through the various interventions is, in fact, the dominance and influence of a neoliberal agenda in Africa’s postcolonies. This hegemony of neoliberal orthodoxy persists despite the rhetoric of a post-Washington Consensus development paradigm, which points to practices of consultation, civil society participation and local ownership as core principles that mark a difference from the earlier paradigm. More fundamentally, I show that, as with earlier structural adjustment policies, the poverty reduction strategy framework can be seen as a governing technology that reinscribes the status quo of western economic power and dominance. I argue that contrary to the claim that the poverty reduction strategy framework alters aid relationships by transferring power and influence from donors to aid recipient countries or even developing an equitable ‘partnership’, there is, in fact, continuity and intensification of disproportionate donor influence and even domination in the development policy making process
License granted by Lord Mawuko-Yevugah ( on 2009-12-09T23:23:09Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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