Development Mobilities: Identity and Authority in an Angolan Development Programme

Rebecca Warne Peters

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


This ethnographic essay considers how international non-governmental organisations are able to make claims to authoritative knowledge about development work by offering the transnational mobilities of their staff members as evidence. I examine how one professional's biography-his trajectory from Angola to Britain and back again-was differentially presented to external donors and internal staff members as befitting the institutional needs of an international good governance intervention in Angola. These presentations reflect a commoditisation of the cosmopolitanism of professionals' histories in the service of development as a regime of mobility. I argue that, in this development regime, a global hierarchy prevents some individual professionals, particularly those from developing nations, from realising the same benefits of their cosmopolitan mobility as professionals from industrialised nations. While one of mobility studies' many strengths is that it highlights global interconnectedness, social scientists should not read equality in these interconnections but examine how patterns of transnational mobility may produce and reproduce global structures of inequality.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)277-293
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Ethnic and Migration Studies
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013


  • Africa
  • Ethnography
  • International Development
  • Mobility
  • Transnational Professionals

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Demography
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)


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