Drawing on fieldwork in Uzbekistan and Washington, D.C., the author illustrates how conceptual ambiguities in development work can lead to corruptions of entire aid projects by structuring a recipient community of elites and thereby generating new forms of knowledge and practice, alignment and interest. The author then examines the dialectic of acceptance and subversion of NGO ideals by local recipients. In this process, the concept of civil society loses its utility as a conceptual category and gains the potential to become an instrument for dissembling structures and relations of power between different interest groups at subnational, national, and transnational levels.

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