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John G. Sommer
Traditional approaches to development have not proved equal
to the task of ensuring a just society, especially for the most socially,
economically, and psychologically oppressed peoples. The unique individuals and
groups introduced in this book recognize that a qualitative and sustainable
improvement in the lives of the most downtrodden—those battling discrimination
by gender, class, or caste—can be achieved only when the root causes of their
oppression are addressed, not just its symptoms. Not only have these leaders and
their organizations found strikingly effective and innovative ways by which
people may secure their human and civil rights and realign power relations in
society; they have also enabled the marginalized poor to pursue their own
interests and their own struggles for justice and equality.
Empowering the Oppressed offers highly readable stories, lessons learned, and
analysis from India that should be applicable in many settings around the world
where injustice prevails. The book also cites analyzes the implications for
foreign aid donors, who are frequently chary of supporting empowerment
activities, and shows by example both how such aid is effectively given and how
critical it is to successful development outcomes.
About the author: John G. Sommer has been actively engaged in international
development in a variety of capacities over more than three decades. Now an
independent consultant and writer, he was most recently Dean of Academic Studies
Abroad at the School for International Training/World Learning in Vermont.
Previously, he worked at both grassroots and senior policy levels with agencies
such as the U.S. Agency for International Development, Peace Corps, and Overseas
Development Council in Washington, DC, and with The Ford Foundation and
International Voluntary Services in South and Southeast Asia, respectively. Mr.
Sommer has also been engaged with other NGOs and government departments as a
board member and consultant, and was author, among other works, of Beyond
Charity—U.S. Voluntary Aid for a Changing Third World, in many ways a
precursor to the current volume.
Contents: Foreword by LC Jain/Preface/Introduction/Of Pigs and Coats and
Human Bondage/Reclaiming the Human Personality/Trunks of the Banyan: In Support
of Women/Struggle in the South: Land to the Landless/Power of Knowledge, Power
of the Purse/Variations on the Theme/Lessons Learned/Implications for
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Last updated on Tuesday, September 13, 2011.
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