Why Positionalities Matter and What They Have to do with Knowledge Production

by Julia Schöneberg, Arda Bilgen and Aftab Nasir

Coming from three different educational, geographical, and class backgrounds, the three of us met for the first time in a research institute in Germany. Together with a group of international colleagues, we were eager to be trained in Development Studies and pursue a PhD degree. In reminiscing about this journey many years later, we shared the struggles and challenges we experienced during our so-called ‘fieldwork’ stays in very different geographies and realised that there was a blatant gap not only in the way we approached our research, but also in the way we were trained: a lack of confrontation with the centrality of power and positionality in ‘development’ research (or any kind of research for that matter) – and a disregard of the colonial legacy in the way knowledge is created and considered legitimate.

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Looking at the UNDP with different eyes

by Juan Telleria

I really like these moments when you find a new idea that catches your attention and changes the way you used to understand something. You are reading a text or listening to something and suddenly you think ‘Oh… I never thought about this issue in this way!’ For a few seconds, your mind wanders and tries to understand the novel perspective opened up by the new idea. Then, you realise that your understanding of the world has changed (at least a little) and now you look at it with different eyes. I like these moments so much that I’ve become addicted to them. Probably, that is why many years ago I decided to start my PhD in Philosophy, and nowadays I publish my findings aiming to share these moments with other open-minded people.

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On the Colonial Problem in the EU’s ‘Sustainable’ Trade Agreements

by Camille Nessel

This contribution is part of 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.

European colonialism describes a complex period of economic exploitation, racial ideologies and cultural domination. In the last stages of colonialism towards the 1880’s, ideas of a philanthropic civilizing mission were institutionalized. During this civilizing mission, EU member countries like France began to systematically civilize indigenous people through Western “superior” values. This logic shows surprising parallels with sustainable development ideas in the EU’s trade agreements, as I will argue.

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Why a firm postcolonial stance is fundamental for the future of ‘development’ NGO work

by Julia Schöneberg

Recently, I participated in a NGO workshop, where a large group of German NGO project officers and representatives met to discuss trends and challenges of the sector. One of these was ‘Postcolonialism’ (as a noun). The ‘new trend’ was assigned the guiding question of ‘How the ideal Postcolonialism-sensitive development cooperation would look like?’.

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An African Renaissance perspective on EU-Africa relations

by Valentina Brogna

In this blog Valentina Brogna explores how the concept of African Renaissance (AR) may reshape the relations between the European Union (EU) and Africa. Partly building on African and diasporic perspectives, she argues that EU-Africa relations are still imbued with coloniality, that there is unclarity as to what delinking from Western modernity would entail for Africa, and that the EU should first and foremost listen rather than proactively seek agreements.

This contribution is part of 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.

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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 agnotology and the ‘worlds’ of development

by Su-ming Khoo

The ongoing global Covid-19 pandemic places a magnifying glass on many issues of local and global fairness and justice that have been ignored and under-emphasised. The world-wide outbreak, the public health measures to contain it, and the resulting socioeconomic disruption call for greater attention to be paid to the inequities and injustices that have been hiding in plain sight. The problems of under-emphasis and apparent lack of knowledge about who is really suffering maps directly onto trajectories traced in critical development studies.

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It’s all about “Post-” and “De-“: Some (Dis-)entanglements of Post- and Decolonialism and Postdevelopment

by Julia Schöneberg

Starting to read about critical perspectives towards “development” you will soon encounter post- and decolonial literature and arguments, popping up regularly as catchwords. Both are not homogenous streams of thought, but rather certain standpoints from which “development”, capitalism, Eurocentrism, Anthropocentrism and the ongoing legacies of colonialism are critiqued and contested.

Then, you may notice that likewise postdevelopment (PD) comes with a “post-“ prefix. How to make sense of all the “post” and “de”? How do they all connect?

You’re confused? Fret not and look no further, here’s a zine for you!

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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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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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