The Place of Story, Silk and Song:
Collaborative Development Practice in Lao
Ellen A. Herda, Ph.D.
University of San Francisco
San Francisco, California
Drawing upon local story and talent, development practices have emerged in a variety of ways that bring people from the West who are not full-time professional developers to work with people in Lao on specific projects. Narrative analysis sets the foundation and direction for collaborative development practices carried out by Lao and American educators, musicians, social scientists and artisans. Establishing a relationship between an American school and a school in the remote province of Phongsali, hearing the stories of a small people group in Sayabury talk about the future, promoting the appreciation of Lao silk among urban and surburban Americans, and collaborating with a music demonstration theater in Vientiane are examples of development work that take on meaning through commitment and friendship. Assumptions about development are discussed and questions of sustainability and policy are considered from a critical hermeneutic orientation.