Negotiating Boundaries and Borders: Qualitative Methodology and Development Research

Negotiating Boundaries and Borders

ISBN: 978-0-7623-1283-2, eISBN: 978-1-84950-395-2

ISSN: 1042-3192

Publication date: 15 March 2007


The spatial and often binary orderings of development discussed above have underpinned the dominant formations of development knowledge and the configuration of whose authority counts in development decisions and debates. Since these orderings of knowledge, authority and space are a pivotal feature of development, it is important that qualitative researchers engage with and challenge them. The contributions by Humble and Smith and by Yanacopulos challenge the construction of development research along North/South lines. Exploring what counts as development research, Humble and Smith note a geographical orientation towards research in the South to the exclusion of other approaches, informed by the historical influence of colonialism, the anthropological tradition and an increasing de-politicisation of development. This spatial filtering privileges certain sets of development knowledge and hence conceptions of what development is or should be. Drawing on their experiences of research with NGOs and in UK schools the authors make the case for critical engagement with the meanings of development in the North, challenging the traditional boundaries of what counts as development research. Yanacopulos, in Chapter 3, also takes up this challenge, but in this case arguing that we need to “think about the ways that development actors, structures and dynamics operate at a global level” (p. 35). Focusing on the rise of Transnational Advocacy Networks (TANs) and their roles in development, Yanacopulos explores the methodological challenges of researching a potentially fluid formation across national boundaries. But in doing so, she also demonstrates the important role qualitative methodologies can play in generating new understandings which challenge the North/South boundaries of development.


Smith, M. (2007), "Negotiating Boundaries and Borders: Qualitative Methodology and Development Research", Smith, M. (Ed.) Negotiating Boundaries and Borders (Studies in Qualitative Methodology, Vol. 8), Emerald Group Publishing Limited, Bingley, pp. 1-9.

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