Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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An Alternative to Development Framework: A Study of Permaculture and Anarchism in Global Justice Movements in New Zealand

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posted on 2021-11-11, 22:27 authored by Gaisford, Tazia

This study is a response to calls for alternatives to development by postdevelopment authors and critics of post-development alike. It asks “can the praxis of permaculture and anarchism provide an alternative to development?” Although alternatives to development arguably do not exist untouched by the dominant development paradigm, it is possible to imagine and to create the different possible organisations based on principles of mutual aid, direct action and self-management. Anarchism as a politically focused social philosophy and permaculture as an ecologically focused design philosophy are mutually beneficial in strengthening each other. The combined analysis of alternatives to development uses case studies in the Wellington Region, primarily Climate Camp Aotearoa, with permaculture and anarchist principles, and contributes another perspective to the post-development debate. The two approaches share converging central ethics, principles and struggles of praxis. They recognise that transformative change is necessary. Whether it is called a cultural revolution, transition or paradigm shift, the underlying recognition is that we need to live more harmoniously with each other and the natural environment by creating diverse post-industrial societies. Many tools, principles and processes advocated by alternative development and post-development are the same. However, the combination of those tools, principles and processes, and how they are designed and applied in relation to each other systemically, are significant in determining whether or not the intent is that of an alternative to development. Solidarity and stewardship, decentralisation and autonomy, tight multiple feedback mechanisms and a whole system design approach are some of the alternative people-focused solutions proposed by anarchism and permaculture. Fieldwork research was conducted using the qualitative ethnographic and action research methods of participant observation from a constructionist and post-development perspective. Global justice networks are given importance as examples of the anarchistic intent of alternatives to development.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Development Studies

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Master of Development Studies

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Research Masters Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

School of Geography, Environment and Earth Sciences


Overton, John