Seminar Report: "Memory of Development"

by Taisuke SHIME
Graduate School of Asian and African Area Studies (ASAFAS), Kyoto University

Date: March 6, 2003, 2:00-5:00 p.m.
Venue: Room 207, 2nd Floor, East Wing
The Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS) Kyoto University

2:00-2:40 ADACHI Akira (ASAFAS)
  "Problems with the Memory of Development"

2:40-3:20 KATO Tsuyoshi (ASAFAS)
  "How Were Development and Revolution Recounted? -An Indonesian Example"

3:40-4:20 UCHIYAMADA Yasushi (Tsukuba University)
  "Development Has No Memory"

4:20-5:00 General Discussion

At the outset of the meeting, Dr. Akira Adachi, the organizer of the study meeting, laid out the significance of research on and the concept of development and memory. Although research into various forms of "memory" became a fad beginning in the 1980s, little discussion has been made on the subject of the memory of development. This point, which was elaborated in later reports, is inextricably linked to the characteristics of development.

  Dr. Adachi underscored the importance of making a distinction between the "memory of development" and "memory in development" in building arguments on the subject. More specifically, he argued that a distinction should be made between the "memory of the project cycle" as a memory of the development planner and the "chain of various events related to a development project," as a memory of those who accept a development plan. Further, three specific target domains can be cited: "culture and politics concerning a local development project and related memory," "official memory and memory of individuals concerning development" and "memory at development aid organizations."

 In the past, the experiences and memories of the "beneficiary" of development have received little focus as an issue of memory. Dr. Adachi concluded by saying that understanding and describing such a memory would require refining the way the memory is recounted, as a means of achieving solidarity with other "beneficiaries" who also have memories of development, with due heed given to the intricate network formed among the three target domains and the politics of local culture.

  "How Were Development and Revolution Recounted?" by Dr. Tsuyoshi Kato shed light on the memory of development through a comparison of keywords that dichotomized the contemporary history of Indonesia. According to Dr. Kato, the contrast between development and revolution can be summed up as follows. First of all, revolution is deeply connected to mobilization, participation/sacrifice, regime overthrow, memory and replay, while development is closely related to elections, satisfaction/consumption, regime maintenance, planning and renewal. Further, interestingly enough, it is desirable for the existing regime to have revolution remain a glorious past, while development is always oriented toward an immediate future, until the next turning point comes. Thus, development never looks back to the past. For development, even the present time is a codename for the near future being drawn to the present.

  "Development Has No Memory" by Dr. Yasushi Uchiyamada addressed two issues. First, there is a solid schema in the field of development, and this schema is constantly and continuously "transcribed." This powerful schema can easily turn people into "development specialists." Second, the core of the problem is from where and how the process of the transcription should be described. His way of raising the issues suggests that the process of development has no memory, and that even if it had, this memory would be just the memory of the form.

  Issues discussed in the question-and-answer session included: "The discussion always took place from the standpoint of the development planner, and never addressed the memory of the beneficiary," "Why do we need to collect withering memories?"; and "How should experiences be recounted?"

  We believe this study meeting marked a first step in opening a new chapter in research on development issues, in that it has provided a first opportunity for discussions on the issue of development and memory. We have to admit that because the meeting was the first such attempt, there were notable gaps in the recognition of issues involved between the speakers and the audience, and as a result the discussions sometimes went around in circles. As we hold many more sessions like this, however, we expect to be able to deepen the understanding of the issues of development and memory.