Collective and community work in Senegal: Resisting colonial and Neoliberal models of economic development

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Senegal's history since the nineteenth century has favored collective ownership and work, whether state-run cooperatives or community-based organizations (CBOs). This chapter first examines the history of resistance to cooperatives imposed by the French colonial administration and Senegal's independent state until 1980. The primary separate community organizations were, and are, within daaras: communities based on Islamic spiritual principles. The chapter then explores today's CBOs, many of which are faith-based, that resist neoliberal approaches to development, again, through community-based principles. CBOs have grown within the space that state control once occupied, and have as much do with indigenous structures and faith-based principles as they do with globally recognized models of development. These foundational philosophies shape the ways people organize themselves, choose their shared goals, and elect their leaders. To discuss contemporary trends in community organization, the chapter uses ethnographic examples from two present-day communities, one a faith-based daara and the other a five-village CBO. This history and contemporary examples show that locally grown organizations resist easy definitions of colonial, state, or neoliberal development, and take control over the ways they organize their communities.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)117-135
Number of pages19
JournalStudies in Symbolic Interaction
StatePublished - 2017


  • Agency
  • Community
  • Development
  • Neoliberalism
  • Senegal


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