Undeveloping the North

by Aram Ziai

The concept of ‘Undeveloping the North’ (‘Abwicklung des Nordens’) opposes both the discourse of ‘development’ in general (and its imperative of ‘developing the South’) and the discourse of ‘sustainable development’ as its accompanying ecological modernization. It sees relations of power in global capitalism and its drive for accumulation as the cause of poverty in the South and ecological degradation worldwide. Therefore, it focuses on struggling against these relations of power and this economic system. The concept (Spehr 1996: 209-236, Hüttner 1997, Bernhard et al. 1997) arose from a critique of sustainable development, which was seen as an ecological modernization of corporate capitalism reproducing ideas of Western superiority, patriarchal faith in science and technology, and unjustified trust in planning and ‘development’ (Hüttner 1997: 141).

Continue reading “Undeveloping the North”

Post-Development: Decolonial Alternatives to Development

This is the introductory note of the conference on ‘Decolonial Alternatives to Development’ that is organised at University of Kassel, Germany, 10 – 11 September. Members of the Convivial Thinking Collective are attending the conference and will report. 

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.

Continue reading “Post-Development: Decolonial Alternatives to Development”

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’ .

Continue reading “Elephants in the ‘development’ room – a response to Julia Schöneberg and Henning Melber”

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.

Continue reading “Problems of development and “development” as a problem”

Challenges to EU Development Policy: Paradigm Lost or Stretched?

by Sarah Delputte and Jan Orbie

European Union (EU) development policy seems plagued by many challenges from within and outside. We argue that underlying these challenges lay more fundamental problems with the Eurocentric, modernist and colonial paradigm of EU development policy. We witness some cracks in the pillars of the current paradigm, namely in the form of policy failures, epistemic changes, and power shifts. However, this seems unlikely to entail radical paradigm change. Instead of moving in the direction of post-development, we merely observe experimental approaches stretching the prevailing paradigm.

Continue reading “Challenges to EU Development Policy: Paradigm Lost or Stretched?”

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.

Continue reading “CALL FOR PAPERS AND CONTRIBUTIONS: Post-Development: Decolonial Alternatives to Development”

CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Intercultural Philosophy and Critical Development Theory in Dialogue

++ Please read the Call also in Spanish, French, German. We thank Mariela Vargas  and Rodrigue Naortangar for the translations. ++

Intercultural Philosophy has taken a global perspective from its start, it endeavoured “to interconnect contributions from all cultural traditions into philosophical discourses equally, this is to say, not just putting them aside each other in a comparative way, but rather bringing them into an open common space, so that all positions in this polylogue are kept open for change” (Mission Statement POLYLOG).

Continue reading “CALL FOR ABSTRACTS: Intercultural Philosophy and Critical Development Theory in Dialogue”

“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?”