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In the 21st century, humanity finds itself in an unprecedented systemic crisis. Whether it’secological catastrophe, the escalation of wars, the political crisis of parliamentary democracies, or the global advance of nationalism and fascism, they are all expressions of the deep crisis into which Capitalist Modernity has plunged humanity and nature. The growth of new feminist, ecological, anti-colonial and democratic movements must be understood as a reaction to the general systemic crisis. However the alternative remains to this day disorganized, fragmented and without a strategic and unifying proposal of common organization. A real opposition to the system and a radical moral, political and intellectual renewal with a global perspective are needed.
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Julia Schöneberg served as one of the guest editors of this Special Issue that sets out to examine the colonial, racist, ableist, casteist, and patriarchal power dynamics that undergird our knowledge and research institutions, publishing realms, development policy and practice, and our everyday lives. It is available here: https://www.tandfonline.com/toc/cgde20/31/2-3
Under the pen name “Two Convivial Thinkers” Lata Narayanswamy and Julia Schöneberg share reflections on (Un)Doing performative decolonisation in the global development ‘imaginaries’ of academia. They argue that imperial forms of knowing and making sense of the world are deeply entrenched in the structures of higher education, both shaping and limiting the ways in which what we call ‘development’ is researched, taught and practised. The article is free and open access.
With Gyekye Tanoh, Third World Network Ghana
At the last world climate conference in Egypt in November 2022, three topics were the focus of international negotiations:
The development of new energy sources to meet the energy needs of the North, the financing of climate infrastructure, and compensation for climate damage in the Global South.
The German government has been working for years in various countries to develop new energy sources. In African countries, for example, the focus is on Senegal (natural gas) or Namibia (hydrogen). Natural gas production in particular is vehemently opposed by the climate movement, but hydrogen production is also criticized for a lack of energy justice, among other things. At the same time, development policy organizations argue for the right of African countries to extract their own resources and thus earn urgently needed foreign currency.
With regard to the financing of compensation for climate impacts and climate infrastructure in the Global South, it is undisputed that both are needed. However, their design is contested. Compensation is considered to be far too low, and the financing of infrastructure through private funds - strongly supported also by German institutions - leads, among other things, to the privatization of public goods and increases the risk of public debt.
We discussed these and other topics with our guest Gyekye Tanoh from the Third World Network (TWN) Ghana. In addition to his work for TWN, Gyekye Tanoh is a consultant for various UN organizations and a climate policy activist.
The edition contains the following topics (amongst others):
- Anil Shah: Kann die Subalterne zahlen? Die kolonialen Wurzeln der Finanzialisierung sozialer Reproduktion in Indien
- Juvaria Jafri: Schattenbanken und der Ausbau eines inklusiven Finanzwesens im globalen Süden
- Paula Haufe: Warum das Mikrofinanzwesen trotz eminenter Kritik fortbestehen kann. Eine diskursanalytische Erklärung anhand der Analyse von Subjektpositionen von Entwicklungsfinanziers in Indien
- Frauke Banse: Der „globale Pool privaten Geldes“ in Afrika Anleihemärkte in lokaler Währung und die deutsche Entwicklungszusammenarbeit
- Carsten Elsner / Franziska Müller / Manuel Neumann / Simone Claar: Finanzialisierung und „de-risking“ in Sambias Energiewende: Perspektiven für nachhaltige Entwicklung? (Open Access)
- Frauke Banse / Anil Shah: Die Geopolitik von Finanzialisierung und Entwicklungspolitik. Interview mit Ilias Alami
Blog entry by Prof. Dr. Aram Ziai
The endeavour of ‘decolonising’ is very much on vogue (not only, but also) in recent discussions and debates in academia and Higher Education. But what does this claim practically and tangibly entail for academia generally and development research and development studies specifically? In this blog, I want to briefly outline what I see as eurocentric or even colonial structures in development studies in terms of its knowledge basis and its knowledge production before pointing to possible ways of decolonising development research.
The German government as well as the European Commission claim to start a new area of equal partnership with African countries: “(…) the days of ‘aid’ and of ‘donors and recipients’ [must be] put behind us” (BMZ 2017, 4). One main tool for this assumed new partnership is the increased role of private companies ‒ be it by way of financing or direct investment.
This study analyses the recent and most prominent initiatives of the German Government and the European Commission vis-à-vis the African continent and their reference to private sector promotion. The initiatives looked at are: 1) the German driven Compact with Africa (CwA), 2) the Marshall Plan with Africa of the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (both 2017), 3) the Entwicklungsinvestitionsfonds (Development Investment Fund) of diverse German Ministries (2019) as well as 4) the External Investment Plan (EIP) (2017) of the European Commission and 5) the Post-Cotonou Agreement between the European Commission and, among others, African states. - Banse 2021, 6 (Executive summary)
‘We cannot solve our problems with the very same thinking that created them’. This quote, attributed to Einstein, sums up one of the main arguments of this talk and of the recently published book, “Revolutions in Learning and Education from India”, on which it is based. The presentation will argue that in order to tackle the many challenges – from rising inequality and poverty levels to environmental degradation, climate change, political apathy, and a general sense of disenchantment – that are found in today’s world, we need to stop relying on the ideas of “Development”, economic growth and “progress” so deeply ingrained in our minds. While, as it will be argued, schooling and other forms of modern education are some of the key instruments that keep us firmly within the ambit of this ‘sacrosanct canon’ of development, growth and progress, there exists an abundance of educational projects which re-imagine learning and education, and therefore also re-envision what makes meaningful – and more sustainable – lives. Drawing on several case studies from the Indian subcontinent, the presentation will introduce some of these alternatives and show how they can be understood as a form of prefigurative politics based on Jacques Rancière’s principle of radical equality.
Christoph Neusiedl produces transdisciplinary research that is located at the crossroad of post-development and radical political theory and the Philosophy of Education. His recently published book “Revolutions in Learning and Education from India: Pathways towards the Pluriverse” offers a critique of the ways in which mainstream education contributes to perpetuate an inherently unjust and exploitative development model. As an alternative, the book proposes a new anarchistic, postdevelopmental framework that goes beyond Development and schooling to ask what really makes meaningful lives.
Please register here.
The junior group of the subject area development politics and postcolonial studies has published the new edition of the journal "Peripherie".
The edition contains the following topics (amongst others):
- Aram Ziai - "Auswirkungen der globalisierungskritischen Protestbewegung.Institutionelle Reformen, ein neues Politikverständnis und postkoloniale Nachfragen"
- Anne Reiff - "Alle(s) kooptiert? Globalisierungskritik und partizipative Weltbankreformen.Eine postkolonial-feministische Kritik des Kooptationskonzepts"
- Janet Conway - "Kosmopolitisch oder kolonial? Das Weltsozialforum als „Kontaktzone“"
- Walden Bello - "Deglobalisierung – Zwanzig Jahre später(Zur Diskussion)"
- Frauke Banse, Friederike Habermann, Jai Sen & Peter Wahl mit Aram Ziai - „Our World is not for Sale!“ Was hat die globale Protestbewegung der 1990er Jahre erreicht – und was nicht?"
You can find the journal by clicking on the following link.
Postcolonial Critique unearth the Eurocentrism of the discourses and practices of "development". This volume opens up perspectives to on the fight of global inequalities beyond a eurocentric world view. The authors analyse colonial continuities in contemporary development cooperation, explore decolonial strategies in research and practice and sketch out lived alternatives according to the ideas of post-development.
Julia Schöneberg is research fellow at the University of Kassel in the DFG-funded project "Theorizing Post-Development. Towards a reinvention of development theory."
Aram Ziai is head of the subject area development politics and postcolonial studies at the University of Kassel.
The volume contains contributions of: Frauke Banse, Anne-Katharina Wittmann, Albert Denk, Esther Kronsbein, Christine Klapeer, Julia Plessing, Meike Strehl, Julia Schöneberg, Gabriela Monteiro und Ruth Steuerwald, Fiona Faye, Jacqueline Krause und Joshua Kwesi Aikins.
Please follow this link to get to the publication.
We, the researchers of the EU research network “Decolonising Development“, stand in solidarity with the signatories of the open letter “The threat of academic authoritarianism – international solidarity with antiracist academics in France.” We wish to express our concern with the trend to attack and slander post- and decolonial studies. This trend can be witnessed in France using the slogan of “Islamo-Leftism“, but it can be observed in numerous other European countries as well, often in the guise of a defense of academic freedom. In the UK a series of interventions, mirroring those emerging at the end of Trump’s presidency in the US, have sought to invert the premises of anti-racist and decolonial studies to spread falsehoods about these ideas and then to denounce them as part of increasingly authoritarian discourses. These include misrepresenting Critical Race Theory as teaching white pupils about ‘inherited racial guilt’ and suggesting that to teach it is to ‘break the law’. The UK universities Minister also sought in a Parliamentary speech to link ‘decolonisation’ to ‘censoring History’, suggesting that to ‘remove elements of history’ is reminiscent of the Soviet Union and China. To blame “indigenist, racialist and decolonial ideologies” allegedly imported from North America for terrorist attacks and assassinations by fundamentalists, as some academics in their 100 Manifesto are claiming in France, is nothing short of outrageous.
As scholars committed to peaceful, respectful and plural coexistence, justice and dignity for all, we think that Islamic cultures, like other cultures present in Europe and the world, cannot be simply dismissed as possessing an inferior morality and be condemned to invisibility and silence. We are living in a world which unmistakeably bears the marks of European colonialism, which had occupied 85% of the earth‘s surface and has lasted for centuries. Today’s global asymmetries of power and division of labour are directly shaped by colonialism, and in all too many cases today’s – subtle or violent – racism is its legacy, long after formal independence has been achieved by former European colonies and universal rights have, at least in theory, been recognized.
Decolonial and postcolonial studies have – not only in North America, but all over the world – begun to investigate and unveil this racism and these asymmetries. Movements like Black Lives Matter and Rhodes Must Fall illustrate that there are many people who perceive an urgent need for such critical theories. They recognize the necessity to rectify Eurocentric curricula or representations of history in textbooks, to investigate the effects of colonial violence that can be witnessed even today. To equate this with the support for terrorism is not only slander. It amounts to taking the position of the coloniser who wishes to defend its privilege of defining what counts as true. Let us be clear: colonialism denied the right of self-determination on the basis of racialized constructions of superior and inferior groups to populations the world over. It was a crime which cannot be reconciled with the idea that humans possess dignity and equal rights, and with the project of constructing a peaceful and inclusive global world. In this context, it is particularly important that thorough and solid research is not only allowed but actively encouraged, so that facts and new angles can be unearthed and debated in as dispassionate a manner as possible. As academics, we believe in research and academic debate to drive this process forward.
The threat of academic authoritarianism does not come from those who criticize colonial legacies and seek to change the traditional curricula, it comes from those who defend them and who wish to control and banish postcolonial and decolonial studies in universities. The continuous and deliberate conflation of intolerance and censorship with a range of ideas, including anti-racism, anti-Islamophobia and decolonisation that might be broadly construed as on the ‘left’ of our political discourse is a now well-trodden path to, ironically, shut down and, in some instances, criminalise, ideas that are seen as outside of our political, social and economic norms. This type of misrepresentation is profoundly dangerous to the types of pluralistic, inclusive and dynamic exchanges of ideas that the vast majority of Higher Education institutions are committed to nurturing. For a network of decolonial scholars, the threat this poses to our capacity to discuss, debate and disseminate these ideas is very real and must be challenged. Linking our academic commitment with violence and terrorism is a simplistic strategy defending the Eurocentric status quo in which the history has been written by the colonisers. As scholars committed to peace, respect, plurality, justice and dignity, we can only understand this attack in terms of racism and anti-racism: a racist narrative attacking anti-racist scholars and activists in order to maintain a white supremacist status quo. The current nationalist and authoritarian populist labelling of others is a continuation of structures that must be refused if a world of peace and genuine domestic and international cooperation are to be possible.
We call upon the EU to defend universities and schools against this new academic authoritarianism, in the name of the universal – not European – values of humanism and justice. This has to include social justice as well as cognitive justice.
Please find the publication als on the website of COST Action - Decolonising Development. Follow this link here.
The COST Action ‘Decolonising Development’ launch event has been recorded and is available on youtube now. Find the video here.
During the event, Rosalba Icaza Garza, Kalpana Wilson and Olivia U. Rutazibwa were discussing imperatives and practical implications on what ‘decolonizing’ can, must, and shouldn’t mean. It was a rich and challenging conversation.
Aram Ziai's brief input on Zhengistan starts at 6:00min.
Aram Ziai's "Development Discourse and Global History" (2015) is now open access.
"It admirably deploys Foucauldian theory and methodology, demonstrating why its author has become the most persistent and insightful analyst of development from poststructural perspectives."
- Arturo Escobar, Kenan Professor of Anthropology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, USA
In this episode of the Deep Dive Podcast, Prof. Dr. Aram Ziai speaks about the history of development aid, the role of the World Bank in development politics, German and international colonial guilt, the Summers Memo, and the importance of the Mont Pèlerin Society amongst others.
You can listen to the full episode here.