Triumph of the Expert
Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism

By Joseph Morgan Hodge

“Hodge’s meticulous historical analysis and extraordinary synthesis of the relevant case literature are a remarkable feat.... a smart, well-written, and accessible book....”

American Historical Review

“Hodge brings to light the role that Britain’s imperial networks of applied scientific and technical experts played in shaping development throughout the twentieth century...with its emphases on agrarian concerns, technical solutions, and state intervention..... A pathbreaking historical study with important implications for understanding the current nature of international development.”

Journal of British Studies

“Huyendo de tópicos y determinismos, este libro constituye una minuciosa descripción de la lógica de dominación cultural y económica aplicada por Occidente. Se entienden mejor la racionalidad de sus políticas, sus contradiciones y los problemas que hoy en día repiten muchos organismos internacionales…. En cualquier caso su lectura es obligada par quienes trabajan en la idea de una globalizacion para el siglo XXI con grandes paralelismos con el proceso colonial .”

“This book provides a detailed description of the rationale behind the cultural and economic domination by the West while avoiding clichés and determinism. It fully analyses the logic of the policies often followed by many international agencies today, with all their inherent problems and contradictions…. This should be required reading for whoever is struggling with the understanding the issues of globalization in the 21st century with its direct parallels to the colonial process.”

Juan Infante Amate, Universidad Pablo de Olavide

“Hodge provides an excellent analysis of the historical roots of the contradictions and problems associated with development.... Hodge’s important and insightful book will generate considerable rethinking of many assumptions usually taken for granted about the globalization project.”

International Review of History

The most striking feature of British colonialism in the twentieth century was the confidence it expressed in the use of science and expertise, especially when joined with the new bureaucratic capacities of the state, to develop natural and human resources of the empire.

Triumph of the Expert is a history of British colonial doctrine and its contribution to the emergence of rural development and environmental policies in the late colonial and postcolonial period. Joseph Morgan Hodge examines the way that development as a framework of ideas and institutional practices emerged out of the strategic engagement between science and the state at the climax of the British Empire. Hodge looks intently at the structural constraints, bureaucratic fissures, and contradictory imperatives that beset and ultimately overwhelmed the late colonial development mission in sub-Saharan Africa, south and southeast Asia, and the Caribbean.

Triumph of the Expert seeks to understand the quandaries that led up to the important transformation in British imperial thought and practice and the intellectual and administrative legacies it left behind.

Joseph Morgan Hodge is an assistant professor of history at West Virginia University in Morgantown.

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In Series

Series in Ecology and History

Related Subjects

African History · Environmental History · African Studies · History · Environmental Policy · Colonialism and Decolonization



Retail price: $34.95, S.
Release date: Feb. 2007
432 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World


Retail price: $59.95, S.
Release date: Feb. 2007
432 pages · 6 × 9 in.
Rights: World


Release date: Feb. 2007
≅ 432 pages
Rights: World

Additional Praise for Triumph of the Expert

“Hodge’s study is a timely reminder that the modern discourses of development emerged out of particular histories, especially the efforts of colonial authorities and experts to manage the social, economic, and ecological crises of the late colonial world.”

Journal of Colonialism and Colonial History

“Hodge’s book builds upon the path-breaking work on colonial African development by Helen Tilley, Richard Grove, Monica van Beusekom, and others, but he has drawn together a fuller and synthetic account of the British colonial agrarian project and the bumpy road along which the expert came to seize control of development in the post-1945 period.”

International Journal of African Historical Studies