This volume critically examines a ubiquitous and, according to editors Rachel Douglas-Jones and Justin Shaffner, undertheorised aspect of contemporary aid, development, and NGO work: capacity building. Capacity building, which became a prominent feature of development discourses in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is a nebulous concept that does a lot of 'work,' as the editors note in their introduction. At once a goal and a method for achieving that goal, capacity building encompasses a wide
... ge of attributes, including abilities, attitudes, behaviours, conditions, infrastructures, knowledge, relationships, resources, skills, and values. It identifies them as inadequate or insufficient in the present. Then, capacity building seeks to transform them at a variety of levels (individual, organisational, societal) to bring about a desired future. The editors argue that 'capacity building "works" through comparative transformation. It must generate (preferably measurable) insufficiencies which need to be made to appear -an absence that becomes a potential' (page 8). A second argument underpinning this volume, and the reason we decided to review it in Commoning Ethnography, is that ethnographic comparison is a generative approach for engaging with highly mobile concepts like capacity building. Accordingly, the eight ethnographic chapters in this volume take a comparative approach in attending to the contested, transformational, futureoriented 'work' that capacity building seeks to do in diverse settings.