Class Year


Document Type

Student Research Paper

Date of Creation

Spring 2017

Department 1



By the end of the twentieth century, a subfield of anthropology known as critical development studies emerged - in large part due to the work of James Ferguson and Arturo Escobar - as a critique of post-colonial development programs and NGOs of the West that were at work in much of the developing world - most notably sub-Saharan Africa. Development was largely panned by these early researchers as a means by which Western powers habituated problems in the developing world so as to create a profitable industry of development. Contemporary anthropological inquiries have called for an increasingly field-based approach to the study of development so as to better understand how development organizations are managed and regarded in their host communities. Many anthropologists - such as Gardner, Lewis, and Mosse - argue that organizations which successfully integrate into their communities and actively seek local perspectives and participation are more likely to defy post-colonial anthropological stereotypes about development organizations. This paper adds to a growing literature on these organizations by examining the role that one small community based organization (CBO) is playing in a predominately black township of Durban, South Africa. The Umkhumbane Schools Project (USP) is an American-South African joint program aimed at improving mathematics and science scores among underserved high school youth in five secondary schools in Cato Manor Township. An examination of the problems schools face in Cato Manor, the structure and history of USP, and perspectives on the program's success reveal that the organization has integrated within Cato Manor as it continues - with mixed results - to create key participatory roles for South African educators, students, parents, and community members. This paper explores the challenges CBOs face in implementing their programs and grapples with how to define and measure CBO success all while attempting to move anthropological exploration of development beyond critique and towards an increasingly qualitative measure for understanding the humanity of development.


Written as a Capstone Honors Project in Anthropology.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.