This is an ethnography of development in practice. It builds on recent work in the anthropology of development in its examination of the evolution and persistence of a number of key ideas about gender, technology and race. It explores how these are rooted in both material practices and ideologies, notably the Enlightenment and colonialism, but goes beyond previous studies which have tended to focus mainly on the apparently monolithic power of the developers. The authors argue for a more nuanced account of power through analysis of the relationship between individual agency and structural constraint. Their study shows how a simple dichotomy between "us", the developers, and "them", the victims of development, misconstrues the nature of the processes involved.