This article examines ‘the village’ as a category of development knowledge used by policymakers and experts to remake the ‘Third World’ during the Cold War. The idea of the village as a universal category of underdevelopment, capable of being remade by expert-led social reform, structured efforts to win the ‘hearts and minds’ of people from Asia to Latin America and Africa. Rooted in a transnational interwar movement for rural reconstruction, village projects were transformed in the 1950s and 1960s by a scientization of development that narrowed the range of experts in the field and by Cold War politics that increasingly tied development to anti-communism and counterinsurgency. From India to Central America, strategic efforts to control rural populations won out over concerns for rural welfare.

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Copyright © 2011 London School of Economics and Political Science. This article first appeared in Journal of Global History 6:3 (2011), 481-504.

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