How postdevelopment can transform EU (‘Development’) Studies

by Sarah Delputte, Jan Orbie and Julia Schöneberg

This is the introduction to a blog series seeking to explore how Postdevelopment approaches can inform, infuse and potentially transform the study of EU (development) policies and relationships with the Global South. The aim is to stimulate thinking about different imaginaries of ‘another Europe’ and alternative role(s) the EU could/should play, inspired by insights from postdevelopment thinkers. The blog series results from various exchanges and discussions between the contributors since early 2019. It builds, amongst others, on the insights gained through a reading group on post-development at the Centre for Studies (CEUS) at Ghent University, a full-day workshop on bridging EU- & Post-Development in May 2019 and a visiting scholarship by Julia Schöneberg at CEUS in September-October 2019.

Although much research on the European Union (EU) and its ‘development policy’ can be considered ‘critical’ towards the EU’s policies and approaches, remarkably, post-development debates have remained largely off the radar in debating the EU’s global role. In line with a call by Manners & Whitman (2016) to advocate for more dissident voices in theorising Europe, and Schöneberg’s (2019) plea for ‘practical’ post-development, we argue that a post-development perspective towards EU ‘development’ can contribute to the field in important ways. In framing our approach, we want to use postdevelopment insights to imagine the EU as part of a ‘pluriverse’ and foster more creative and critical thinking on the EU and its relations with the so-called ‘Global South’.

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[COVID-19 Pandemic: Worlds Stories from the Margins] Eating my Food Politics; Reflections During COVID-19

by Rosa de Nooijer

Image 1 – Quince by Paul de Nooijer

My ways of eating have become fundamental to the way I want to be in the world. Food has always played an important role in my life, as we need food to stay alive, but it also connects us to those around us, whether that is when we are growing food, eating food or when we are caring for the earth and the other-than-humans on and in it. However, over the past years, I have come to understand that much of the food we buy and eat is produced in agricultural landscapes that are highly industrialized and mechanized. Not just that, but the bigger food systems, of which the growing of crops is only a small part, are de-humanizing and exploiting workers all over the world to ‘please the needs of consumers’ and destroying bio-cultural diversities to sustain capitalism and other oppressive systems. Also, the inequalities that are reproduced in these food systems result in the majority of the world population relying on cheap and unhealthy food, which increases their risks to a variety of diseases, one of which is COVID-19 which has been linked to different food-related diseases, for example diabetes, obesity and malnourishment.

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Cultural management and transition: reflections during the pandemic

by Ana Agostino

On 29 April this year the Faculty of Culture from University CLAEH in Montevideo organised a forum to reflect on the role of cultural managers during the pandemic, where different approaches and visions were shared. I was glad to participate and contribute with some reflections. This text is the continuation and deepening of those first ideas.

The current crisis caused by the Coronavirus pandemic has transformed daily life in almost all countries of the world. In these four months, countless articles have been written in Uruguay and around the world on the impact of the pandemic, on the possible exit and future scenarios. If we could talk about the density of virtual meetings, we could certainly be facing a historical record, not only of simultaneous activities in the virtual space but also of the number of people on line. Most of them analysing the very meaning of the pandemic itself, a variety of aspects of reality and their relationship to the phenomenon. Perhaps the greatest coincidence in this babel of seminars, articles, videos and other diversity of tools used to try to understand and project, is that reality as we know it, to a greater or lesser extent, will change. It is changing. It changed. And therefore it is possible to say that the future, the sense of the future, is in dispute.

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[COVID-19 Pandemic: Worlds Stories from the Margins] Caring for Our Shared Life-Worlds

by Wendy Harcourt

In her beautiful and widely circulated piece in Con Tactos, Judith Butler speaks of Human Traces on the Surfaces of the World asking us to consider deeply our interconnectedness:

“The virus lands on, enters, one bounded body and departs to land on the skin of another or on an object, looking for a host —the surface of a package, the porous material of a shared world” (21 April 2020).

The question is how can we share this world, as we all feel our vulnerability and our interconnectedness. How can we move beyond the deep multifaceted inequalities which are so starkly revealed in the pandemic and work towards maintaining communities that are based on care and respect for others diversity and our common responsibility for our shared life-worlds.

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Re-enchanting Education Beyond the Crisis: On Care in Knowledge Re-Creation

by Adrian Schlegel

The COVID-19 pandemic, its political responses as well as their devastating social consequences have left me unsettled and weary. As for many students, this moment of total uncertainty has pushed my heart off a cliff while tying my head to the desk attempting to focus on classwork. Continue reading “Re-enchanting Education Beyond the Crisis: On Care in Knowledge Re-Creation”

It is time to abandon “development” goals and demand a post-2030 Utopia

by Mia Kristin Häckl and Julia Schöneberg

Following the critique, by Brecht De Smet, of the inherent shortcomings of the development paradigm, Julia Schöneberg and Mia Kristin Häckl argue for a post-2030 Utopia that starts now. They propose to ‘un-develop’ the Global North and to start from a multitude of radical alternatives from below.

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[COVID-19 Pandemic: Worlds Stories from the Margins] Our Bodies are not Machines: From Crisis to Collective Healing

by Paulina Trejo Mendez

I googled the word crisis looking for a definition, here are the first three that appeared.

The first one: a time of intense difficulty or danger.

The second one: a time when an important decision must be made.

The third one: The turning point of a disease when an important change takes place, indicating either recovery or death.

I write this from the comfort of my own home, in a world that tries to overcome a health crisis to go back… outside, to visit friends, family and be able to connect with others, to grieve collectively, to feel a hug. I write from the safety of my home, a privilege I enjoy because I could stay inside, and quarantine, not everyone was able to do that where I come from, in Mexico. Their realities would not allow it, and even when some can stay at home, home is not a safe place to be in for everyone. Violence can be deadly for women and girls confined with their abusers.

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[COVID-19 Pandemic: Worlds Stories from the Margins] BLACK LIVES MATTER – Solidarity Message

Some brief remarks from the editors, Rosalba Icaza and Zuleika Sheik

When we spoke of breath in our introduction to this series, on how oppression takes the breath away, we could not imagine that a few weeks later our worlds would reel from the death of George Floyd, which brought into the mainstream the deaths of countless other black bodies across the Global South at the hands of law enforcement. To us the link between the state carceral system and the lockdown and its exacting of violence on black bodies is explicit. It cannot be ignored. For this week’s feature, we offered this space to the ISS Black Community, based at the International Institute of Social Studies, Erasmus University Rotterdam, who wrote a Message of Solidarity to the Black Lives Matter movement and that was featured on ISS website. We are grateful to ISS Black Community as they granted us permission to reproduce it in full here. 

by the ISS Black Community

Who are we? 

Day by day I keep asking this question as reasons fly out the window when I see the monstrosity perpetrated against each other. Today it is racism, tomorrow it is gender inequality, ethnicity bias, religious conflict, everyday it’s a constant struggle over one divide or the other.

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[COVID-19 Pandemic: Worlds Stories from the Margins] Edges of the Pandemic – Survival Activism at the Peripheries in Brazil


by Su-ming Khoo and Mayara Floss

At the edges of necropolitics

If the current COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one thing it is that the elephant of widening inequality and basic deprivation is still in the room. A shadow hangs over the struggle to understand the different problems of the COVID-19 pandemic – a shadow of necropolitics that puts some people and risks in the obscure background in the current emergency, while others are in the foreground and the light. On the ground, social activists are working with primary care professionals in everyday struggles to help people stay safe and provide basic necessities like food, water or soap. Meanwhile, far-right protesters, some from the better-off classes who protest from the safety of their cars, but also some daily workers, Uber drivers and street traders are demonstrating against the lockdown, in protests that are reported to be approximating a military coup.  Their objective is getting workers back to work, contrary to public health recommendations. The elites want the economy to be re-opened, so they can get back to making profits and their convenient market freedoms, while the precariously-employed are torn between the need to stay safe at home, and the need to return to work in the absence of alternative means of survival.

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[COVID-19 Pandemic: Worlds Stories from the Margins] THE DAY AFTER

by Gustavo Esteva

No future

We lost floor underfoot.

Our world was reasonably predictable. Suddenly, from one day to another, deep trends that allowed us to anticipate the general and probable course of events and behaviors disappeared. We can no longer foresee what will happen. We are facing radical uncertainty.

There are inertias, obsessions, propensities and hobbies. We can correctly assume that a variety of actors and sectors of society will persist in the lines of behavior that characterize them. But we cannot know the outcome of their actions in what will undoubtedly be a new balance of forces, under radically new circumstances.

The world we will experience after the pandemic will not have changed because of it, but for previous critical conditions. We know almost nothing about the climate that is emerging after the climate collapse. Even less do we know what will remain of the institutions after the socio-political collapse. The pandemic only heightened the challenges at the crossroads we had already reached.

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