Into the Unknown: Explorations in Development Practice

Published on 27 March 2014

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Development is about change, and lives immersed in researching international development should be prepared for exploration, for discovering the unexpected, and for questioning the direction that ‘development’ is taking.

Robert Chambers reflects on experiences, which led him to examine personal biases and predispositions, and he challenges readers to examine the pervasive significance of power in forming and framing knowledge. Into the Unknown reflects on the journey of learning, and encourages readers to learn from observation, curiosity, critical feedback, play and fun.

Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) and Community-Led Total Sanitation (CLTS) have benefited from sharing practice, innovations and experience through participatory workshops. This book includes tips on how to lead and convene workshops that can co-generate knowledge and have an influence. Into the Unknown will be of interest to development professionals, including academics, students, NGO workers and the staff of international agencies.


‘With his infectious optimism and lucid, insightful – and often highly entertaining – prose, Robert Chambers has given us yet another book that is set to become a classic. Of all of his works, this is my favourite, not only for its reflexive engagement and for the inspiring example Robert gives us of looking for lessons from where things went wrong, but also for what it exhorts us to do: to engage our imaginations, our passions and our curiosity to create a better, fairer world.’ Andrea Cornwall is Professor of Anthropology and International Development, University of Sussex, UK.

‘In this book, Robert Chambers refers to himself as ‘an explorer’ and poignantly reflects on his incredible half-century career of ‘exploration’. Like other great explorers, Robert has opened new frontiers – of knowledge, methodology, self-reflection and learning. In this latest book, he inspires and challenges other development practitioners also to become explorers – not to follow his path, but to create their own paths towards a new 21st century development project.’ John Gaventa, Director, Coady International Institute, St Francis Xavier University, Canada, and Professor (on leave), Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex.


Robert Chambers

Research Associate

Publication details

Chambers, R.
978 1 85339 823 0


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