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The fiction of development: knowledge, authority and representation

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This article introduces and explores issues regarding the question of what constitute valid forms of development knowledge, focusing in particular on the relationship between fictional writing on development and more formal academic and policy-oriented representations of development issues. We challenge certain conventional notions about the nature of knowledge, narrative authority, and representational form, and analyse these by comparing and contrasting selected works of recent literary fiction that touch on development issues with academic and policy-related representations of the development process, thereby demonstrating the value of taking literary perspectives on development seriously, based on the fact that certain works of fiction are better than academic or policy research in representing central issues relating to development, that they also frequently reach a wider audience and are therefore more influential, and finally because the line between fact and fiction is a very fine one. The article finally provides a list of relevant works of fiction that we hope academics and practitioners will find both useful and enjoyable.

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