Publication date:14 August 2014
With the publication of this remarkable book in 1998, Gustavo Esteva and Madhu Suri Prakash instigated a complete epistemological rupture. Grassroots Post-modernism attacks the three sacred cows of modernity: global thinking, the universality of human rights and the self-sufficient individual. Rejecting the constructs of development in all its forms, Esteva and Prakash argue that even alternative development prescriptions deprive the people of control over their own lives, shifting this control to bureaucrats, technocrats and educators. Rather than presuming that human progress fits a predetermined mould, leading towards an increasing homogenization of cultures and lifestyles, the authors argue for a ‘radical pluralism’ that honours and nurtures distinctive cultural variety and enables many paths to the realization of self-defined aspirations. This classic text is essential reading for those looking beyond neoliberalism, the global project and the individual self.
'Beyond its definite "no" to the global project, this book takes a stimulating glance at the renewed life of social majorities and offers good reasons for a common hope.' Gilbert Rist, author of The History of Development 'Do you look for a book which is both subversive and common sense? Reach for Grassroots Post-modernism, a compelling account of how western civilization is being transformed from below.' Wolfgang Sachs, Wuppertal Institute 'Esteva and Prakash courageously and clear-sightedly take on some of the most entrenched of modern certainties, such as the universality of human rights, the individual self and global thinking. In their efforts to remove the lenses of modernity that education has bequeathed them, they dig deep into their own encounters with what they call the "social majorities" in their native Mexico and India. There they see not an enthralment with the seductions of modernity but evidence of a will to live in their own worlds according to their own lights. Esteva's and Prakash's reflections on the imperialism of the universality of human rights avoids the twin pitfalls of relativism and romanticism. Their alternative is demanding and novel, and deserves our most serious consideration. Grassroots Post-modernism is a much-needed and most welcome counterpoint both to the nihilism of much post-modern thinking as well as to those who view the spread of the global market and of global thinking too triumphantly.' Frédérique Apffel-Marglin, professor emeritus, Smith College 'Quite simply, a book which will transform how one sees the world.' North and South