This thesis explores the practices of development workers in four human rights-based organizations in Lesotho, and a set of related funding organizations in Norway. Based on six months of ethnographic field research in Lesotho and a subsequent interview study in Norway, I revisit earlier accounts written on the topic, and seek to supplement and expand the more recent ethnographic turn in the study of development. The aim of the study is to draw new insights from Lesotho, a nation more than any other known to anthropologists for its politics and anti-politics of development (Ferguson, 1994).
My findings contribute to the growing body of qualitative evidence about practitioners in aid and development organizations. Contrary to earlier suggestions that they are unaware of the limitations of their own efforts, passive reproducers of western ideas, or largely unwilling or unable to care for matters other than those promoting their own personal prosperity; I highlight the ways in which NGO-work is practiced actively, deliberately, caringly and creatively. I find that doing development is premised on a concern for doing good. The meanings of goodhowever, are contested among and between local workers, expatriates and funding organizations. Moreover, development practitioners generate new hopes, meanings and belongings through the practical encounters of their work.
These features cannot be understood by theoretical perspectives which reduce groups or individuals to broader functions, or methodological approaches concerned with formal discourse. It requires close ethnographic research among concrete actors from villagers and all the way up to development funders.