Participation and empowerment: reflections on experience with indigenous communities in Amazonas Brazil

Participatory approaches have become increasingly popular in international development. Although traditionally associated with small non-governmental projects they are increasingly used by governmental and international organisations such as the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the World Bank. This article - focusing on a small health agent project in Amazonas Brazil - challenges the assumption that participation inexorably empowers and argues that culturally inappropriate participation may be used to legitimise prescriptive intervention.