EU trade policy and the “meta-participation” challenge

by Diāna Potjomkina

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.

The ways in which citizen participation is currently organized for “development” purposes have been questioned by critical observers including the post-development community but also by  representatives of the mainstream development world, such as some of the World Bank’s lead economists. Criticism is – justifiably – directed at top-down approaches of the donors, ignoring local power relations, and at participatory fora which lack real impact. In too many cases, the search of “fast policy” and easy solutions has led to uncritical adoption of one-size-fits-all solutions which can easily fail in foreign contexts, even if they were genuinely successful in their place of origin.

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Development Cooperation in a Post-Growth Era

by Ulla Puckhaber & Tanja Brumbauer (NELA -Next Economy Lab)

“Without growth – no investments, without growth there are no jobs, without growth there is no money for education, without growth there is no help for the weak”, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said when introducing the Growth Acceleration Act in November 2009. However, in times of massive ecological overshoot and increasing inequalities worldwide, this growth dependency is increasingly questioned, particularly the notion of ”green growth”. Critics ask:  Is economic growth really indispensable for wellbeing and (global) justice? Or is it, on the contrary, rather a source of global inequalities, severe environmental crises and- even a possible economic decline in the long run?

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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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In times of crises: Why there is no place for ‘development’ in imagining a just future for all

by Adriana Cancar

In these current times of crises, and I purposely use crises in the plural, fatal misconceptions of ‘development’ and ‘growth’ are becoming even more blatantly apparent. Any given day we can see the consequences of ‘development’. Humans are forced to look for a safe place to live as their homes are simply inhabitable due to environmental degradation, land grabs, extractivism, heat waves, floods, droughts and fires. All the while, it feels like the climate crisis is  only taken seriously by young people most likely to experience the devastating consequences of a fossil-based, mass consumptive and resource-intensive lifestyle. Slowly but surely global warming is also hitting the global North –  and that means crises also affect ‘us’, the (relatively) ‘privileged’. By ‘privileged’ I mean those that for decades have profited from a fossil-based, mass-consumptive lifestyle all the while externalizing its costs. Continue reading “In times of crises: Why there is no place for ‘development’ in imagining a just future for all”

The What and the How of Teaching Global Development

by Anke Schwittay

A little over two years ago, this Convivial Thinking blog started with a collective conversation about decolonizing teaching pedagogies. Since then a number of posts have further added to the discussion, and especially its decolonial dimension. Since John Cameron wrote in 2013 about the ‘broader failure in the academy to subject our teaching to serious critical reflection and to consider it worthy of serious writing and publication,’ things are slowly changing in Development Studies, not in small part due to efforts to decolonize the development curriculum. This is both encouraging and important, for as bell hooks has argued, ‘the classroom remains the most radical space of possibility in the academy.’ Many of these contributions have focused on what we are teaching development students, often looking to diversify reading lists. That is not enough, however – how we teach is just as important as what we teach.

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Cosying up the desirability of EU democracy support in Africa to postdevelopment: a bridge too far?

by Nathan Vandeputte

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.

In 2018, Freedom House recorded the 13th consecutive decline in ‘global freedom’, otherwise described as an ‘unfolding third wave of autocratization’. A notable factor has allegedly been the complacency of the international community, in particular the US, Russia, and China. Yet, also the EU is admonished, particularly since its new foreign policy instrument – the Neighbourhood, Development and International Cooperation Instrument that was approved by the European Council in July 2020 – does not convincingly emphasize democracy.

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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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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] 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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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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