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Une "Banque du savoir" ? Enquête sur la nature et la politique de l'expertise de la Banque mondiale

Abstract : In the 1990s, the World Bank was facing an unprecedented crisis, due to the consequences of structural adjustment programs and of some projects it financed, which were considered harmful by many. The response of the international institution was to describe itself as a “Knowledge Bank”, claiming by this term that its primary value lied in its development knowledge, while acknowledging the political nature and the need to transform this knowledge. This thesis takes up this self-description and investigates the current nature of this Knowledge Bank. To this end, ethnographic studies, mainly in West Africa, were conducted on knowledge that the World Bank itself has identified as one of its prominent concern: the knowledge embedded in its development interventions (projects, technical assistance). By discussing mainly the literature in anthropology of development, and building upon relevant work in Science and technology studies, the thesis identifies an “expertise as operation” at the heart of these interventions. This expression denotes the actions undertaken by World Bank experts (consultants, project managers) to construct or transform the identities and problems of individual or collective entities, through the production and mobilisation of knowledge about them, and often by ensuring that these entities seize upon this knowledge about themselves. The choice made in the thesis to analyse economic interventions (support for the competitiveness of an economic sector, support for the development of entrepreneurship, or research on industrial policies) allows for an in-depth analysis of the much criticized neoliberal and “economicist” policy of the World Bank, so as to show that the politics of the institution cannot be reduced to those aspects, and is primarily embedded in these operations of expertise on identities and problems.
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Félix Boilève. Une "Banque du savoir" ? Enquête sur la nature et la politique de l'expertise de la Banque mondiale. Sociologie. Université Paris sciences et lettres, 2020. Français. ⟨NNT : 2020UPSLM023⟩. ⟨tel-03007392⟩

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