Intervention, opportunity and response : a clash of paradigms in smallholder cattle projects in Samoa : a thesis presented in fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Development Studies at Massey University
This thesis examines the notion of development as a process of interaction and negotiation
between two cultures: the Western development project subculture and, in this case, Samoan
culture. It analyses the origins, issues and implications of misunderstandings and
misinterpretations that result from this process.
Specifically this thesis investigates the validity of expressed Western perceptions and
interpretations of Samoan cattle-farming behaviours that are characterised as irrational in
project literature. This is done by examining the role and incorporation of cattle into Samoan
culture, society and livelihoods to determine if there are rational explanations, based in
Samoan culture and cultural values, for the ways Samoan farmers utilise cattle, particularly
in traditional exchange occasions ifa'alavelave). In doing this, efforts are made to provide a
perspective from the Samoan viewpoint.
Conventional Western interpretations are found to be grossly misinformed. The origins of
misinterpretations between the two cultural perspectives (Western/Samoan) and implications
for approaches to development projects and development theory are drawn out. Cultural
misinterpretations in projects are seen as consistent with, and a function of, the role ascribed
to culture in modernisation and liberal modernisation theory.
On one hand cultural interaction resulted in misinterpretation. On the other hand, it resulted
in endogenous development. This thesis finds that cattle have been actively incorporated into
Samoan traditional and modem activities and livelihoods by Samoans according to their own
culturally determined priorities and criteria. This thesis argues that this may be considered
successful development and therefore that the protestations that can be traced to the practice
of modernisation theory are an irrelevent non-issue.
The endogenous development that did occur may be seen as a process of cultural interaction
and negotiation which can be usefully informed by populism. The tenets that would underpin
a new theory of development are suggested as rooted in basic human psychological needs
which motivate development activity. This can be combined with the concepts of moral
economy and active response to other cultures found in populism and concepts of diversity
from post-modernism to form the basis of a new theory of development.