I have a new academic-ish article up at boundary 2 online in a special issue edited by David Golumbia on the “Digital Turn.” It’s on “social innovation” and the way that it circulates in the so-called “Third World” and in humanitarian and development agencies. It picks up on the argument of my first book, which explored the importance of “underdevelopment” in the evolution of U.S. nationalism, by tracing development’s successor concept: innovation.
Here’s a teaser:
As an ideology, innovation is driven by a powerful belief, not only in technology and its benevolence, but in a vision of the innovator: the autonomous visionary whose creativity allows him to anticipate and shape capitalist markets.
Given the immodesty of the innovator archetype, it may seem odd that innovation ideology could be considered pessimistic. On its own terms, of course, it is not; but when measured against the utopian ambitions and rhetoric of many “social innovators” and technology evangelists, their actual prescriptions appear comparatively paltry. Human creativity is boundless, and everyone can be an innovator, says Yunus; this is the good news. The bad news, unfortunately, is that not everyone can have indoor plumbing or public lighting.
Read the whole thing here.