Can ‘participatory’ approaches to development constitute a viable strategy for promoting citizenship? This paper addresses this question by scrutinising the equivocal reaction of a peasant community in Nepal to the unfolding of one such project, which supposedly reflected their empowerment as equal citizens. Drawing on the notion of ‘symbolic citizenship’ that values people’s ‘right to narrate’ viewpoints that occur to them naturally, this study proposes a more promising approach that allows people to divulge dilemmas arising from real-world complexities, and then determine the terms of their empowerment, in defiance of the prevailing liberal democratic framework.
CPRC Working Paper No. 142, Chronic Poverty Research Centre, London, UK, ISBN: 978-1-906433-49-9, 27 pp.