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

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Massey University
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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.
Samoan culture, Cattle, Samoan farmers, Agricultural development