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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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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Problems of development and “development” as a problem

by Henning Melber and Julia Schöneberg

Right-wing populism remains on the rise, unleashing the brute force of predator capitalism under authoritarian regimes. The temporary vision of promoting social welfare states as a form of good governance has been replaced by new ideologies bordering to a revival of Social Darwinism. White supremacists, populists and nationalists (re-)enter political commanding heights, basing their rule on exclusion and racism. Those concerned about inequality and all forms of discrimination, advocating the rights of the marginalised and disadvantaged, are ridiculed, harassed and increasingly victims of direct, structural and cultural violence. Their struggles for human rights, justice and dignity face an uphill battle. Political repression is mounting. The unsustainable exploitation of the world’s limited resources as integral part of a growth paradigm is once again accelerated.

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CALL FOR PAPERS AND CONTRIBUTIONS: Post-Development: Decolonial Alternatives to Development

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. It furthermore criticised the paradigm’s colonial continuities – a Eurocentric perception of difference as backwardness, legitimising interventions by claiming to ‘develop the underdeveloped’ instead of ‘civilising the uncivilised’, and allowing for the preservation of a colonial division of labour. In the light of these fundamental points of disagreement, Post‐Development perspectives declared ‘development’ as beyond reform. Instead of alternative development, they argued, it was necessary to look for alternatives to development. These were to be found in concepts and practices beyond those Western models (to be more precise: those that were hegemonic in the West) which were to be universalized through ‘development’. Concepts and practices arising out of disillusionment with the false promises of ‘development’, inspired by non‐Western cultural traditions were presented aspotentially bringing forth a Post‐ Development era.

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“Alternatives to development” as a universal project?

by Julia Schöneberg

Thinking, reading and writing about “development” can be a daunting undertaking – and it gets worse the deeper you dig. Starting off as a student with the naïve desire to learn about development in order to acquire the tools and skills for making the world a better place, my occupation with the topic has turned into an intellectual struggle, disillusionment, much frustration and anger with those who for so long have shaped the concept and practice of “development.” Continue reading ““Alternatives to development” as a universal project?”

Call for Abstracts: Re-Thinking, Re-defining, Re-positioning: “Development” and the Question of “Alternatives”

Development Days Conference, Helsinki, 27.02.-01.03.2019

Critiques of development of the last three decades have clearly pinpointed the many flaws in the way development is theorised and practiced (Escobar 1985, 1992; Esteva and Prakash 1997, 1998; Ferguson 1990; Kothari 2005; Kiely 1995; Munck 1999; Rahnema and Bawtree 1997; Sachs 1992; Schuurmann, 1993; Ziai 2012, 2016). We are well aware that established and conventional ways are leading to a dead end.

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Why I refuse to rethink development – again (and again, and again…)

This summer I attended several academic conferences, and while I was initially extremely enthusiastic to be given the chance to put my work out for discussion, exchange with and learn from colleagues, by early autumn I am fatigued and disenchanted.

Maybe the reason for this is that several of these events where claiming to be “rethinking development”, yet by the end I fail to recognize what was essentially new in the arguments exchanged and the discussions led and what will move us forward.[1]

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