by Fiona Faye
I felt uncomfortable when writing about other people after my last research stay in Benin. In qualitative research, you have so much material and then you need to decide what to take in, what to leave out. The picture is always incomplete because you only have a certain number of pages. How can you make comprehensible to the readers all you saw and experienced and everything people explained to you so patiently? Even worse, you have the power to choose and thereby to substantially shape what the readers will think about the persons or groups of people you are writing about. It’s this kind of power, which is probably impossible to avoid (is it?) when writing about somebody else, which makes me feel uncomfortable in my skin, especially as a white researcher in Benin.
Continue reading “Uncomfortable in white Skin: Research, (Self-)Reflexivity and Representation”
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It’s time to abandon development and think about postdevelopment instead.
by Julia Schöneberg
“They talk to me about progress, about ‘achievements,’ diseases cured, improved standards of living. I am talking about societies drained of their essence, cultures trampled underfoot, institutions undermined, lands confiscated, religions smashed, magnificent artistic creations destroyed, extraordinary possibilities wiped out. They throw facts at my head, statistics, mileages of roads, canals, and railroad tracks. […] I am talking about natural economies that have been disrupted – harmonious and viable economies adapted to the indigenous population – about food crops destroyed, malnutrition permanently introduced, agricultural development oriented solely toward the benefit of the metropolitan countries, about the looting of products, the looting of raw materials.”
– Aime Césaire (1950): ‘Discourse on Colonialism’
Continue reading “Development: a failed project”
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.
Continue reading “Being a ‘hypocritic’ commonwealth scholar: On moments of colonial backlog and postcolonial fractures”
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.
Continue reading “Problems of development and “development” as a problem”
by Christopher Millora
The tendency to frame ‘poor’ and ‘vulnerable’ populations as subjects and recipients of development programmes continues to persist today. In international volunteering, so-called ‘global south’ nations seems to be often framed as ‘beneficiaries’ and ‘hosts’ of services delivered by volunteers from the so-called ‘global north’ nations. There is also the widely known “dominant status model” which suggests that those with higher socio-economic status tend to volunteer more as they have a surplus in money, time and expertise. While these narratives do not argue that volunteering is only the domain of the rich, their persistence seems to eclipse the valuable role of volunteering and helping activities by ‘vulnerable’ populations, for instance, within the global south.
Continue reading “Solidarity as Development Practice? – Insights from Volunteering Practices in Global South Communities”
Talk given at the Early Career Researchers Plenary, Development Studies Association Conference, 28 June 2018, Manchester
by Julia Schöneberg
I was enthusiastic to embark on my PhD field research. Ready to observe and to research, to analyse and to understand. The proposal was fully elaborated, I was well into the literature review and the flight tickets for Port-au-Prince, Haiti were booked. I was ready.
And then – my little fluffy idealistic bubble burst just like that. Continue reading “Entanglements of Positionality – Reflections on development research practice”