The 2017 publication of our co-edited Special Issue on Capacity Building in Ethnographic Comparison has a long history. It started in 2009, when as part of the International Science and Bioethics Collaborations project, I was given the PhD title “Building Capacity: research governance in developing world settings.” Though the resulting PhD adopted a different title, the concept of capacity building remained a central question.
Struggling to find ethnographic and theoretical literature addressing the topic critically, Justin Shaffner and I co-organised a panel at the 2011 AAAs in Montreal, where we began exploring the workings of the concept.
We were, and continue to be, struck by the ubiquity of the concept, and the radically different uses to which it is put. In 2015, we followed up with a Wenner Gren funded workshop called Hope and Insufficiency: Capacity Building in Ethnographic Comparison on the intended and unintended effects of capacity building. The resulting special issue in the Spring edition of The Cambridge Journal of Anthropology vol.35 (here) is a selection of articles from the workshop, many of which are by excellent junior scholars.
More details about the workshop and the Visual Essay competition which accompanied it can be found on the dedicated website here.