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Loving to Straighten Out Development: Sexuality and ‘Ethnodevelopment’ in the World Bank’s Ecuadorian Lending

Bedford, Kate (2005) Loving to Straighten Out Development: Sexuality and ‘Ethnodevelopment’ in the World Bank’s Ecuadorian Lending. Feminist Legal Studies, 13 (3). pp. 295-322. ISSN 0966-3622. (doi:10.1007/s10691-005-9005-7) (KAR id:1693)


Gender staff in the World Bank -- the world's largest and most influential development institution -- have a policy problem. Having prioritised efforts to get women into paid employment as the "cure-all" for gender inequality they must deal with the work that women already do -- the unpaid labour of caring, socialisation, and human needs fulfilment. This article explores the most prominent policy solution enacted by the Bank to this tension between paid and unpaid work: the restructuring of normative heterosexuality to encourage a two-partner model of love and labour wherein women work more and men care better. Through a case study of Bank gender lending in Ecuador I argue that staff are trying to (re)forge normative arrangements of intimacy, a policy preference that remains invisible unless sexuality is taken seriously as a category of analysis in development studies. Specifically, I focus on four themes that emerge from the attempt to restructure heteronormativity in the loan: (1) the definition of good gender analysis as requiring complementary sharing and dichotomous sex; (2) the Bank's attempt to inculcate limited rationality in women such that they operate as better workers while retaining altruistic attachments to loved ones; (3) the Bank's attempt to inculcate better loving in men, such that they pick up the slack of caring labour when their (partially) rational wives move into productive work, and; (4) the invocation of a racialised hierarchy resting on the extent to which communities approximate ideals of sharing monogamous partnership. Aside from providing clear evidence that the world's largest development institution is involved in micro-processes of sexuality adjustment alongside macro-processes of economic restructuring, I also critique the Bank's sexualised policy interventions and suggest that they warrant contestation.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/s10691-005-9005-7
Additional information: The original publication is available at
Uncontrolled keywords: Ecuador - ethnodevelopment - gender and development - heteronormativity - sexuality - World Bank
Subjects: K Law
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > Kent Law School
Depositing User: A. Davies
Date Deposited: 19 Dec 2007 19:09 UTC
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2021 09:40 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Bedford, Kate.

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