Transient assemblages, ephemeral encounters, and the ‘beautiful story’ of a Japanese social enterprise in rural Bangladesh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Eleven Japanese corporate executives and ten Bangladeshi village-based entrepreneurs stand around an array of gleaming solar panels perched precariously on piles of bricks and hay. Despite being labeled a “social enterprise,” this solar-energy initiative emerged neither from development planning nor from a company’s market strategy. Instead, the project emerged from a chaotic series of events and the Japanese state’s decentralized patronage politics that drew together a wide array of non-state actors in a haphazard initiative in Bangladesh. This article offers an ethnographic case of ephemeral encounters (building on Faier and Rofel, 2014) and contributes to a theory of transient assemblages in development (drawing on Tsing, 2015 and DeLanda, 2016). It teases apart the diverse factors that produced and were produced by a solar social-enterprise pilot project, which neither arose from a plan for a social enterprise nor generated one. I argue for a diffuse understanding of project agency, the productivity of non-communicative interaction, and the unequal material politics that characterize these encounters across difference. This alternative view on development decenters the project and instead focuses on the emergent properties of the act of assembling, even when the assemblage fails to cohere.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages30
JournalCritique of Anthropology
Early online date16 Jan 2020
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2020

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • development
  • assemblage
  • encounters
  • social enterprise
  • Japanese corporations
  • Bangladesh

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