The rolling out of governing arrangements related to marketization and managerialization has characterized contemporary societies over the last decades, signaling a radical change in how governance is organized. A particular form of governing that has been given impetus during this transformation is the project. In an era of “projectification”, politics is transformed into measurable and controllable activities that should be implemented during limited periods of time. The aim of this thesis is to explore how the project as an organizational form shapes Swedish development aid and makes it governable.

By mobilizing the concept of assemblage, this thesis investigates how the project is constructed in order to govern development aid efforts and how it attains stability in contexts of tension. By studying how state funders, civil society organizations, and private consultants organize development aid through the project, the thesis shows that multiple components need to be assembled in order to form and sustain it. Thus, the work of brokers with the capacity to align the interests of different stakeholders, the mobilization of standardized work practices, the use of scientific approaches to control and evaluation, the construction of markets for project financing, and the mobilization of a particular form of project time are pivotal for the construction of the project.

The assembling of these components transforms the project into a depoliticized form of governing in which marketization, expertise, and administrative procedures displace political and transformational ambitions. This depoliticization hampers the politicization of the colonial notions of rationality, logic, and linearity upon which the project rests. The thesis concludes that discourses of marketization, managerialization, and standardization constitute raw material from which an advanced neoliberal-modern project can be constructed. This form of governing arrangement requires attention and critique.

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Länk till avhandlingen: (Dis)assembling Development : Organizing Swedish Development Aid through Projectification (diva-portal.org)