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Rochelle Stewart-Withers

Doctor of Philosophy, (Development Studies)
Study Completed: 2007
College of Humanities & Social Sciences


Thesis Title
Contesting Development: The Experience of Female-headed Households in Samoa

Read article at Massey Research Online: MRO icon

Ms Stewart-Withers studied the development experience of female-headed households in Samoa through a feminist post-development framework and participatory methodologies. Her research showed that female-headed households are not always socially isolated, stigmatised, lacking in agency and the poorest of the poor. These findings worked to contest many of the ways that female-headed households have been problematised in development scholarship and practice, and rendered to the position of ‘other’. This study highlights the importance of culture when attempting to frame the development experiences of female-headed households in any part of the world, and the overall importance of contesting development categories. Shifting beyond a desire to uncritically categorise and label provides a space for envisioning development as a culturally specific, imaginative and opportunistic experience. This shift also provides a space for truly seeing the ways that people struggle, often successfully, to create and pursue opportunities.

Professor Regina Scheyvens
Dr Donovan Storey