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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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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CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS: Views on the EU as a development actor in conversation with postdevelopment

We are calling on scholars of EU Studies, Development Studies, International Relations and related fields.

We would like to invite you to submit your abstracts for our panel session on “Views on the EU as a development actor in conversation with postdevelopment”, which will take place at the upcoming EADI ISS 2020 Conference in The Hague (29 June – 2 July 2020): https://www.eadi.org/gc/2020/

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Development: a failed project

Read also in SPANISH

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’

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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).

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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.

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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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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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