Because the notion of ‘relevance’ is deeply context bound, I argue that we need to broaden our understanding of development to include ‘conditions for development’. In this paper, I reflect on the well-known adage about ‘give a fish’ and ‘teach to fish’ by adding the following: ‘create the conditions for fishing, we will fish forever’. At the beginning of the 21st century, wich is also an era of rapid globalization, I reflect on (a) what it means to speak of development work (b) in a continent like Asia, wich has emerging industrial giants like China and India, both of whom know extremely lopsided development. Within this framework, I think about what it means to speak of developmentally relevant research. Without losing sight of the hard-won understanding of developmental work acquired over the decade, I plead that we look at development as a multi-layered process. If we do so, we can appriciate the fact that different kinds of research are relevant at different levels: what is relevant at one level does not need to be relevant at another. Thus, criteria for developmentally relevant research will have to keep these different levels seperate from each other. To answer the four questions posed by the taks force, I suggest that we split the global problem about ‘developmentally relevant research’ into three tractable subproblems, each of which giving a different answer at an appropriate level.
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