Being a ‘hypocritic’ commonwealth scholar: On moments of colonial backlog and postcolonial fractures

by Vijitha Rajan

This short note is a reflection on how I felt fractured being a Commonwealth Scholar, between my colonial past and post-colonial present. In the discourse of international development, a Commonwealth scholarship is symbolised as a gesture of the lasting commitment of the United Kingdom towards Commonwealth citizens. Yet its lesser projected colonial and post-colonial undertones made my engagement with the ‘prestigious’ Commonwealth Scholarship more complex than a straightforward experience of meritocratic achievement.

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Spirituality, a road to sustainable worlds?

by Anton Vandevoorde

“Water is life, water is sacred” Dale told me, a strong Mi’kmaq water protector, while we were sitting in a strawbale house. The local Mi’kmaq First Nations are protesting since 2014 against the construction of an underground gas storage near Stewiacke, Nova Scotia. Alton Gas, a subsidiary of Alta Gas wants to dissolve ten thousand cubic metres of salt from the underground to make space for gas and discharge the salt in the Shubenacadie river.

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“Lands selling like hot cakes”- Village Politics and Development disorientation

by Alesia Ofori Dedaa

A common assumption about land inheritance and ownership in Sub-Saharan Africa is that it is either matrilineal or patrilineal. However, land ownership is complex and highly political. My family have had to negotiate these complexities in our quest to access, own and keep land in our small world. Land titling used to be informal, but as population increases, it has become complex to negotiate this informality especially in rural communities. In this narrative article, I show how “messy” land systems have become, suggesting possible solutions to it for development practitioners.

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Undeveloping the North

by Aram Ziai

The concept of ‘Undeveloping the North’ (‘Abwicklung des Nordens’) opposes both the discourse of ‘development’ in general (and its imperative of ‘developing the South’) and the discourse of ‘sustainable development’ as its accompanying ecological modernization. It sees relations of power in global capitalism and its drive for accumulation as the cause of poverty in the South and ecological degradation worldwide. Therefore, it focuses on struggling against these relations of power and this economic system. The concept (Spehr 1996: 209-236, Hüttner 1997, Bernhard et al. 1997) arose from a critique of sustainable development, which was seen as an ecological modernization of corporate capitalism reproducing ideas of Western superiority, patriarchal faith in science and technology, and unjustified trust in planning and ‘development’ (Hüttner 1997: 141).

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‘Tipping’ in contemporary India: A colonial story

by Sayan Dey

A few years ago I was travelling by a sleeper class train from Kolkata to New Delhi. As the train was about to reach the final destination, one of the pantry car serviceman approached me for a tip. I was happy to give him a reasonable amount of money for his tireless services that he extended to me during the entire journey, but I was also curious to know that in spite of having a fixed salary why do they ask for a tip from the passengers? When did this cultural practice evolve in India? These questions pushed me towards a galactic socio-historical paradigm that unfurls the colonial roots of this practice.

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Post-Development: Decolonial Alternatives to Development

This is the introductory note of the conference on ‘Decolonial Alternatives to Development’ that is organised at University of Kassel, Germany, 10 – 11 September. Members of the Convivial Thinking Collective are attending the conference and will report. 

Since the 1990s, the Post‐Development critique has sparked debate in development theory and policy. It rejected the entire paradigm of ‘development’ – that there are ‘developed’ and ‘less developed’ countries, thus a universal scale, and that the former can be found in the industrialised West.

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Elephants in the ‘development’ room – a response to Julia Schöneberg and Henning Melber

by Su-ming Khoo

This blog post responds to earlier posts by Julia Schöneberg and Julia Schöneberg and Henning Melber registering continuing disenchantment with ‘development’, concern with a lack of consensus and common definition, and calling for its abolition. Julia’s first blog argued that we should not become the unwitting bearers of a vision of development that we disagree with, and that serves the interests of the most privileged. Three decades after it first emerged, ‘postdevelopment’ is enjoying a moment of renewal. ‘Development’ disavowal is accompanied by proposals, for example Orbie and Delputte recently called for a halt to EU aid and development cooperation and abolition of the EU Development programme, and its eventual replacement with a ‘Post-development Commissioner’ .

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A Postcolonial Look On ‘New’ Donors

by Tomáš Profant

International relations are power relations. This banal argument is clearly visible in the current configuration of the North-South relation. One of the most apparent ways power operates is through the bond of gift. The powerful nations give and the not so powerful receive the so called development assistance. Both are represented as partners in development cooperation.

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Why it is time to turn the decolonial lens onto the institutional structures of Higher Education

by Lata Narayanaswamy

Through the ‘colonial encounter’, existing power relations and imbalances have been shaped in ways that are geographically and temporally uneven yet politically enduring. Unsettling these tendencies through a more critical reflection on how the colonial encounter underpins these perceptions is key to the application of the ‘decolonial’ lens. Calls to ‘decolonise’ the curriculum are getting louder, and rightly so. Whilst this is a start, it does not, in my view, go far enough. There is a need, I would argue, for us to turn the decolonial lens onto the institutional structures and processes that shape the function and delivery of research and teaching in Higher Education (HE).

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