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

by Rosalba Icaza & Zuleika Sheik

Some discomforts, reflections and an invitation.

The storyteller imbues the margins and our embodied experiences of oppression with sacredness for as Anzaldúa (2007: 60) describes those who are pushed out and have faced multiple oppressions are most likely to develop ‘la facultad’ – the capacity to see in surface phenomena the meaning of deeper realities. The ones possessing this sensitivity are ‘excruciatingly alive to the world’ and from critical collective remembering, recreating and reweaving these experiences can develop the most complex and multiple forms of liberatory praxis ~ Sara Motta

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Alternatives to what?: From “The Divide” towards the “Pluriverse”

by Julia Schöneberg

Postdevelopment proponents offer the most radical critique of past and present development policy and cooperation: It is failed. Rather than thinking about alternative development approaches, reforms and refinements, they call for a full abandonment of “development” as a discourse, as a vision and as a practice. Proponents like Escobar, Esteva, Sachs and many others have been challenged as merely offering critique, but no construction. Indeed, the vision for alternatives to development remains blurry. Almost 25 years ago, Escobar proclaimed that truly just alternatives can only source from the grassroots, the local, the communities. This may be right to some extent, yet realising that grassroot alternatives are not existing in a vacuum, but in a system of globalised, neoliberal capitalism makes it hard to imagine how these alternatives can claim their just and legitimate spaces.

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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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What is Wrong with the Foundations of Education in a Pluriverse? A Personal Account

by Victor Nweke

The call to decolonize institutions of learning both in terms of the composition of the curricula and the facilitators (teachers) is now an issue even in Europe, the United Kingdom, North-America, and Australia. Prior to the 21st century, the call was predominantly made by intellectuals and students from colonized nations, of which Africa is part. But, what is wrong with the foundations of education? What is sustaining it? Why is it difficult to undo? These questions can be and have been coughed and approached in different ways by different scholars. I choose to address them from my intersubjective experiences as a human being, an interconnected individual member of the Igbo nation, a citizen of a country known as Nigeria.

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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?”