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This article offers an analysis of a struggle for control of a women’s development project in Nepal. The story of this struggle is worth telling, for it is rife with the gender politics and neo-colonial context that underscore much of what goes on in contemporary Nepal. In particular, my analysis helps to unravel some of the powerful discourses, threads of interest, and yet unintended effects inevitable under a regime of development aid. The analysis demonstrates that the employment of already available discursive figures of the imperialist feminist and the patriarchal third world man are central to the rhetorical strategies taken in the conflict. I argue that the trans-discursive or “borderland” nature of development in general and women’s development in particular result in different constructions of “development” goals, means and actors based not only on divergent cultural categories but on historically specific cultural politics. I argue further that the apolitical discourse of development serves to cloak its inherently political project of social and economic transformation, making conflicts such as the one that occurred in this case not only likely to occur but also likely to be misunderstood.


Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism





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Women's & Gender Studies

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This article was published as

Davis, Coralynn V. 2003 “Feminist Tigers and Patriarchal Lions: Rhetorical Strategies and Instrument Effects in the Struggle for Definition and Control over Development in Nepal.” Meridians: Feminism, Race, Transnationalism 3(2):204-249.

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