PhD theses

Supervised PhD theses - ongoing


Hunger seems to have been haunting mankind from its outsets and will most likely continue to do so until its end. The physical fixation of hunger turns it into an inherent part of personhood and lends it a seemingly universal and natural character. The meaning of hunger, however, is not limited to its physical materiality; it encompasses historico-cultural and socio-political dimensions that call its mere materiality and timelessness into question. 200 years ago in Europe, for example, famishing people were not granted sympathy, their starvation was rather seen as a godly punishment for idleness. Today, we witness a global 'fight against hunger' in the field of international development, and exogenous – not individual – factors (e.g. climate change, financial markets, agro-fuel industries) are held responsible. This historical shift demonstrates that the meaning of hunger is subject to societal regulations. The manner in which the control of hunger is configured, the way meaning is applied to it, the kind of solutions that are detected and what kind of institutions are made responsible for tackling hunger, the kind of policies that are conceived, and what subjects are presumed – in short: the way in which hunger is governed – generates a network of global and local power relations. Such power relations in the field of international development are the interest of my research project. They are examined through a focus on nutrition policy and practices. In order to address my aim – to investigate power/knowledge in international development policy and politics – my overall research question is how societies and people of the Global South are governed through international development policy and politics in the realm of nutrition. I operationalize my research question through an analysis of what sets of ideas, norms and concepts structure the discourse and accordingly the field of possible action of subjects. I investigate what kind of rationalities are at stake and how these shape practices and knowledge systems of nutrition in international development.


In order to address the research question I examine current policies by FAO, WFP, NGOs  and think tanks within the field of nutrition (policy and conference papers, website documents, statements and protocols by NGOs and the UN). These are analyzed through post-structuralist discourse analysis. Furthermore I intend to analyze the level of implementation by conducting interviews in a specific country context with members of NGOs, staff from UN field offices (e.g. World Food Program Regional Office), umbrella organizations, and farmers. Here, I am particularly attentive to possible re-interpretations, transformations and  contestations to international policies. To analyze the field of nutrition policy and politics and to interpret the results of my data analysis, this study draws on the insights of Feminist-Marxist Theory, the concept of Primitive Accumulation, Biopolitics, Post-Development/Critical Development Theories and Post-Colonial Studies.


The development efforts to preserve and keep people and populations alive align themselves with norms about the constitution of an ideal life and body condition. In the field of agriculture and nutrition, these norms are, for example, certain calorie contents, farming techniques or productivity rates. My analysis of key documents by the FAO, WFP and think tanks within the field of nutrition, food agriculture thus far indicates that these norms are based on presumed physiological orders. It suggests that social norms are translated into vital norms in the field under scrutiny. In other words, particular social norms are translated into forms of bodiliness. This hypothesis leads me to further pursue the following questions: What kind of rationalities structure the field of nutrition policies and what conclusions can be draw about their social, historical and political embeddedness? What power effects are thereby generated? Do these rationality patterns differ on the implementation level? What happens to these norms when translated into local contexts? Finally, I suggest that a specific power technique of the nutrition discourse in international development is that the mentioned influential economic rationalities intertwine with biomedical logics. The two disciplines, economics and biomedicine, seem to dominate international policies and practices within the field of nutrition politics. Their emergence in the context of North-South relations can be traced back to colonial rule. Historians have already put forward the strong interrelatedness of nutritional science with European colonialism. These forms of scientific knowledge productions served to design and optimize bodies and populations and render them susceptible to economic exploitation. My preliminary research suggests that these economic and biomedical rationalities are projected onto and inscribed into bodies (individual and societal) through nutrition policies. This leads me to posing a second set of questions: What kind of effects are generated by the interplay of biomedical and economic logics? How does this particular knowledge transfer affect target groups and their subjectivities? In how far do policies and practices turn individuals into moral and economic-rational subjects?


In the 1980s, under the presidency of Thomas Sankara (1983-1987), the West African state of Burkina Faso managed in an impressive way to become independent of food imports within only four years. My PhD project aims to investigate this successful example of political and economic self-determination in the forms of food sovereignty politics and to find out with which concrete policy measures, especially in the area of trade policy, food sovereignty was achieved (RQ1). Yet, the limits of the project will also deserve further scrutiny (e.g. restrained policy space for public policies due to the CFA franc, level of popular participation and acceptance of the food sovereignty project among classes, etc.).

However, such a reconstruction of the success story and its limit at the time is not yet a guide on how to achieve food sovereignty today. Many framework conditions have changed massively since then: the trading rules of the GATT became the neoliberal free trading rules of the WTO; multilateral free trade agreements negotiated in the meantime have, as in the case of the (Post-)Cotonou Agreement, a long, neo-colonial predecessor history, trade policy conditionalities continued to be part of development finance in a slightly different way. Therefore, my second research question is guided by the assumption that the changed framework conditions of a neoliberal world order make an imitation of Sankara's food sovereignty policy (rather) impossible today – at least not without a certain level of delinking of the international economic and trading system. My second research question thus analyses how the policy space for a food sovereignty-oriented trade politics has changed since Sankara's assassination in 1987. Would it be possible to emulate Sankara's trade politics model in our time? A question, which seems to be of high political relevance to the region. And if not, how would the institutional framework have to be changed in such a way that protectionist trade politics oriented towards food sovereignty become possible again? This last sub-question responds to my aspiration to collect and produce knowledge, which is of use for (transnational) advocacy work directed towards the international level (WTO, etc.).

My PhD project is situated in the field of postcolonial political economy. This approach looks at global economic processes from a political perspective, particularly highlighting the power imbalance between the global North and the South as a remnant of the colonial era. I plan to work predominantly empirically and with qualitative methods. Quantitative approaches, such as statistics on the trade situation in Burkina Faso, will be used as a supplement. Since there is almost no literature on my first research question, I hope to be able to reconstruct the success story of my case study through archival work in the Burkinabè ministries’ archives and interviews with witnesses/experts. The latter are planned with people who have worked for the Sankara government in institutions relevant to food sovereignty policy. These include directors, diplomats, technical staff from UNCTAD, the relevant ministries, the National Plan for Economic and Social Development as well as active members or spokespersons of the farmers' union of the time.

In a second step, a comparative document analysis of relevant trade regulations now and then will show how the political leeway for a trade politics oriented towards food sovereignty has shrunk since then. Documents which I want to compare are the GATT 1947 rules vs. the WTO rules, the Lomé II Agreement vs. the (not yet) implemented Economic Partnership Agreements and Post-Cotonou Agreement, the development plan of the time being free of IMF-conditionalities vs. the most recent national development plan of Burkina Faso (2021-2025), which simultaneously functions as a poverty reduction strategy paper for IMF and World Bank and thus allows for development loans. With this historical comparison of policy spaces, I hope to be able to make a political argument, namely how our trading system needs to be transformed in order to allow for food sovereignty as one core pillar of a socio-ecological transformation in times of climate crisis as well as risky dependencies of the world market. Last but not least, I am convinced that drawing this argument from the case study of Thomas Sankara in particular has a huge potential for popular mobilization on the African continent.

Research on the influx of international NGOs in Syria and their role in the depoliticization of the Syrian social movements

In 2011, millions of Syrians have claimed their presence in public spaces. Until then the country was controlled for fifty years by the long-lasting Assad dictatorship

In the decade before 2011, multiple international developmental NGOs have tried to perform in the postcolonial country as the regime opened up to grant permissions to their work. Mainly EU and UN-related organizations faced complicated legislations and resistance of the old guards. Benefiting from corruption, they showed less interest in a reformation process that would grant international actors the ability to mentor their behavior. Thus, International NGOs performing in Syria found themselves working in a void.

The 2011 uprising gave international NGOs the possibility of connecting with the rising social movements. Their intervention structurally changed from providing knowledge and equipment necessary for the peaceful resistance to an enhanced focus on categories within the postcolonial narrative of “technical progression”. Consistent with a pattern of NGOs intervention that directly or indirectly played a role in the depoliticization of social movements.

Many scholars have argued that the intervention of NGOs led to more “professionalization” and depoliticization of social movements. Starting from the neo-Gramscian theory of international relations, this research aims to examine the validity of this argument in the Syrian context. To research their effects on the evolution of the line of events in the last decade in Syria.

In the fall of 2020, the environmental conflict surrounding the planned construction of the Autobahn A49 in north Hessen, Germany intensified when activists assembled a forest occupation and a protest camp to support the long-standing local citizen initiatives against the project. The opponents have raised concerns over the planned mega-infrastructure project that cuts through forests, nature protection areas, and a protected drinking water zones for 500,000 people.

At the same time, rural communities along the transport corridor currently suffer from high levels of through traffic and pollution, which negatively affect their well-being. The planned Autobahn A49 involves a complex arrangement of government, corporations, and other actors promising to resolve local pollution and traffic issues, increase mobility for rural areas, and bring economic benefits for local industries.

In this context, I aim to empirically unravel the social and environmental implications of the Autobahn A49, which concerns a spectrum of political (re)actions ‘from below’ and ‘from above.’ I employ a political ecology and a post-development perspective to study aspects of infrastructure development and the multi-faceted environmental conflict. The ethnographic research approach attempts to contribute to a better understanding of political processes. I seek to shed light on the strategies and practices of the territorial struggle in relation to the biophysical and social environment. I argue that the case of the A49 exemplifies a broader resistance against mega-infrastructure projects in the global North and shares similar yet different characteristics of an economic development project.

In light of the persistent ecological, social and economical crisis, the exploration of alternative  cohabitation arrangements and economic forms is of major relevance. Global development policy focuses on the question how the development of the global South can be implemented sustainably. After the adoption of the “Sustainable Development Goals” the actors of development policy still orientate on the catch-up development idea of the past decades. The conception follows the assumption that, in the fight against poverty and inequality, there are no alternatives to the global economic project, which is based on growth, and that it is important to rearrange it according to sustainability criteria, to manage the challenges of our time. 


Departing from this view this work calls the possibility of sustainable growth and its understanding of “development” into question, reflecting the fact that the agenda of the past sixty-five years has not solved the global problems of poverty, inequality and biological degradation but exacerbated it instead. The destruction of cultures, languages, autonomy and biodiversity are also results of this “development”. Proceeding from the counter assumption that there are multiple alternatives, this work combines Post-development and Degrowth approaches. As part of the post-development discourse, this thesis centers on counter-hegemonic concepts that focus on culturally-sophisticated endogenous development. It honors the diversity of cultures and solutions; and questions the opinion that the western model can be universalized. It also takes the results of sufficiency-oriented, feminist and capitalism-criticizing Degrowth approaches into account. The consequences of growth and its ideology affects the whole world and - as Degrowth approaches are concepts of the global north- this work aims to open the Degrowth discourse to the global south. Especially in the urban spaces of African states the investigations are rare and can connect to post-development as concept of the south.

This thesis considers how the people who are situated socially, politically and geographically outside of the political power structures (the subaltern) in Windhoek manage the challenges of everyday life on the local level. This thesis argues that these people does not live (or survive) because of the global capitalistic system and its growth, but in spite of it. According to this assumption, the work maintains that there must be alternative social structures and forms of (sustainable) economy they resort to. These may refer to different values and knowledge-systems.

This work focuses on the question of what tools come to use and how the used tools are constituted. The meaning of tools in this context follows the definition of Ivan Illich, who defined them as everything conceived by humans as  a mean for a special purpose. That includes instruments/tools (like a hammer) as well as productive institutions or intangible goods (for example education).

The research is conceptualized as a qualitative ethnographic case-study over twelve month and is divided into two phases: An explorative Phase where participatory observation is conducted and the second phase consisting of semi-structured individual- and group-interviews. The purpose of this investigation is to elaborate on convivial tools on the micro- and mesolevel (households and communities) which are results of traditional and hybridized knowledge. Following the concept of a multidimensional balance from Ivan Illich, tools are convivial if they support ecological behavior, participative and distributive justice and autonomy of the individual and the communities. The main interest of the paper is to evaluate if the tools that might be found, can be analyzed as convivial tools (or degrowth-strategies) and, as such, give a perspective for culturally and locally sophisticated alternatives in knowledge, sustainable forms of economics and social togetherness.

The objectives of this research set out to determine whether alternative structures of cohabitation and economics, in opposition to the logic of growth, exist in Katutura. Finally, the study scrutinizes whether a social-economic transformation and reorientation  in connection to traditional or hybridized knowledge  takes place in the communities.

From a decolonial point of view the universalistic truth claim of western science has to be criticized and taken into account. The decolonization of methods is made possible by the reflection of the existing colonialities (such as abstinence of real reciprocity and the positionality of the researcher as white, woman etc.). Therefore, the theory of intersectionality and the concept of critical whitness are taken into account.

My political theory dissertation is situated in a contested sphere between Racism Studies, Intersectionality and Political Economy. It aims to offer a Marxist methodology for the analysis of racism and sexism for societies in times of neo-liberal capitalism. Based on an in-depth study of Marx’ Labour Theory of Value I summarize the work of selected Marxist feminist theorists, Black and Pan-African Marxist thinkers, and Marxist theories from the Global South in order to bring them into dialogue with post-/de-colonial feminist, and Third-World Feminist approaches.

The intention is to understand the place gender and ‘race’ take in the production of value and surplus value within our current mode of production. A critical examination of theories approaching similar issues with similar interest but a different conceptualization is necessary to gain a deeper understanding of the pros and cons of each approach and the ways these approaches can be combined without losing a materialist base. The aim is to develop an integrated methodological approach that can be applied to concrete case studies.

How does the studying to whom the means of production belong and how reproductive work is organised enable a grounded materialist methodology? What kind of methodology is derived from Marxist approaches for understanding the relationship between exploitation and oppression in modern capitalist societies? What do we learn about the relationship of class, gender and ‘race’ through the study of Marx’ Labour Theory of Value? What conclusions can be drawn for transformations and integrative political practices on the ground?

My proposal stems from the need for a clear methodology to analyse, understand and combat racist and patriarchal social formations, centring working people and their multiple subjectivities as the central force of change.

Wenn entwicklungspolitische Fachkräfte nach Alternativen zur Entwicklung¹ suchen

„Ja, aber man kann einen Raum nur putzen, wenn man ihn betreten hat!" Mit diesem Sprichwort quittierte ein Kommilitone am Ende unseres Studiums des Entwicklungsmanagements meine Überlegungen, ob es vertretbar sei, in die Entwicklungspolitik einzusteigen, obwohl sie nachweislich keine faire Antwort auf globale Verteilungsfragen haben würde, sondern – im Gegenteil – soziale Ungleichheiten seit nunmehr 70 Jahren noch verstärkt habe (vgl. Wainwright 2008: 1; Sachs 1993: 8ff). Fünf Jahre später fragte ich eine Kollegin in der entwicklungspolitischen Organisation Engagement Global, deren Fundamentalkritik an Entwicklung ich kannte, warum sie hier arbeite. Ihre Antwort: Man könne das Feld nicht ausschließlich denen überlassen, die ein nachholendes Verständnis von Entwicklung nach dem Vorbild des Globalen Nordens hätten. In beiden Aussagen zeigt sich ein Dilemma. Entwicklungspolitik gibt vor, auf eine weltweite Verbesserung der Lebensverhältnisse benachteiligter Menschen abzuzielen und zieht gerade deshalb Personen an, die eine gerechtere Ressourcenverteilung anstreben, während dem Politikfeld selbst eine auf kolonialen Strukturen aufbauende Ungleichheit innewohnt. Mit diesem Dilemma befassen sich Studien der Entwicklungsforschung. Gemäß dem Post-Development gilt Entwicklung als ein „Fehlschlag mit weltweiten Folgen" (Sachs 1993: 11), der durch einen eurozentrischen, entpolitisierenden, herrschaftsförmigen Diskurs geprägt sei und eine Entwertung aller nicht im kapitalistischen Sinne verwertbaren Praktiken vornehme (vgl. insbesondere Sachs 1993; Escobar 1995; Rahnema und Bawtree 1997; zusammenfassend: Ziai 2014: 405ff).

Hier setzt meine Fragestellung an, welche Handlungsspielräume diejenigen entwicklungspolitischen Berufsakteur*innen haben, die aus dem System heraus nach Alternativen zur Entwicklung (vgl. Escobar 1995: 215) suchen. Gesellschaftspolitisch relevant und dringlich sind diese Alternativen nicht nur, da das westliche Wirtschafts- und Staatsmodell aufgrund seines Beitrags zum Klimawandel nicht mehr als Vorbild tragbar ist, sondern auch angesichts fortwährender Armut, sozialer Polarisierung und multipler Krisen (vgl. Nuscheler 2012: 24ff).

Ich lege die These zugrunde, dass eine Zustimmung zum Post-Development und eine entwicklungspolitische Berufstätigkeit diametral zueinanderstehen – denn das eine möchte den Kern des anderen abschaffen. Wenn bei einer Person beides zutrifft, führt dies zu einer kognitiven Dissonanz, also zu nicht zueinander passenden Kognitionen (vgl. Festinger 1957:17). Betroffene versuchen, diese kognitive Dissonanz zu reduzieren (vgl. ebd.: 16), etwa durch ihren Austritt aus dem Beruf, durch eine Haltungsanpassung oder durch den Versuch, ihr Umfeld zu verändern. Mit meiner Untersuchung möchte ich aufzeigen, dass diese kognitive Dissonanz somit als Motor für Veränderungen fungieren kann. In 15 Einzelinterviews von ca. 90 Minuten mit entwicklungspolitischen Akteur*innen aus Deutschland sollen ihre subjektiv wahrgenommenen Handlungsspielräume ausgelotet werden, um diese dann in vier Gruppen mit Vertreter*innen der Post-Development-Kritik aus dem Globalen Süden und Norden zu diskutieren. Mit der Diskussion der Interviewauszüge wird u.a. eine kritische Reflektion meiner eigenen Interpretationsergebnisse vor dem Hintergrund meiner Subjektposition als Forscherin, die selbst beruflich in der Entwicklungspolitik tätig war, angestrebt (vgl. Mosse 2005: 14). Für die Analyse habe ich die dokumentarische Methode gewählt (vgl. Bohnsack, Nentwig-Gesemann, Nohl 2013: 9ff), da sie es ermöglicht, die Distanz zwischen der Einstellung und dem Handeln von Subjekten zu untersuchen (vgl. Asbrand 2009: 39ff).

Die Frage was einzelne, entwicklungspolitische Akteur*innen tun können, um eine Transformation der Entwicklungspolitik aus dem System heraus zu unterstützen, wurde bisher nicht systematisch erforscht. Bleibt bei einer Fundamentalkritik an Entwicklung nur der Widerstand von außerhalb des Systems oder stellt ein Verbleib in den Strukturen eine Chance für Veränderungen dar – dem institutionellen Interesse an der „Reproduktion der 'Entwicklungsindustrie'" (Ziai 2014: 425; Hervorh. im Orig.) zum Trotz?


¹ Die vielfach im Post-Development verwendete Formulierung der Schaffung von "Alternativen zur Entwicklung" anstelle einer "alternativen Entwicklung" findet sich in Arturo Escobars Werk "Encountering Development. The Making and Unmaking of the Third World" (1995:215). Ich verwende sie im Arbeitstitel meines Promotionsvorhabens, da sie für Fachkundige ein Hinweis für die Verortung im Post-Development und gleichzeitig verständlich für Lesende ohne fachliches Vorwissen ist.

In Brazil, civil society's fundraising practices and financial allocations to civil society organizations in general have seen important changes recently: Development funds deriving from the global north, which have played a central role in providing financial support for civil society organizations during the last three decades, are gradually loosing importance, as in the global north, a conception of Brazil as „„threshold country““, as well as neoliberal transformation processes of transnational „development“ cooperation in general, are advancing. In this context, state funding and funding by private enterprises has been discussed more intensively in Brazil.
Even though civil society's financial resources, its tasks and objectives and its role in society as a whole are seldom thought together, the present dissertation project departs from the assumption that changes in funding schemes influence the scope of action and the discursive and practical conception of state and civil society. From the perspective of governmentality (Foucault, 2004) and postcolonial studies (Hall, 1996; Spivak, 1988; Chatterjee, 2004; Escobar, 1995), I therefore formulate the following research question: How are rationalities and techniques of power, which become effective in the fundraising of a selected range of Brazilian civil society organizations, as well as in different (state-run, private, local, transnational) donor organizations' funding processes, related to the constitution of power, state a civil society in Brazil?
By answering this question, I intend to analyze the implication of decade long „development“ measures coming form the global north - standing in colonial continuity - for a society within the global south. Furthermore, the research can contribute to the creation of a more differentiated image of contemporary Brazilian society and politics, which have been partly designated as „post-neoliberal“.
The research field will constitute of civil society organizations working on rural development in northeastern Brazil, as well as different occidental and Brazilian donor organizations.

Supervised PhD theses - completed

"No energy means no development.“ konstatierte der EU-Kommissionar für Entwicklung im Februar 2014. Entwicklungspolitisch wird im Rahmen der Sustainable Energy for All - Initiative der Vereinten Nationen vor allem dem Zugang zu ‚moderner‘ Energie hohe Bedeutung eingeräumt. Insbesondere erneuerbaren Energien wird das Potenzial zugeschrieben, die großen globalen Probleme von Armut und Klimawandel zugleich zu lösen.
Theoretischer Hintergrund: In der kritischen entwicklungstheoretischen Diskussion wurde die wirkmächtige entpolitisierende Gesamtendenz der Entwicklungs­diskurse und - praxen problematisiert, die gerade darauf beruht, dass gesellschaftliche Probleme in Form von „Entwicklungs­defiziten“ als technische Probleme gefasst und bearbeitet werden (Ferguson 1990, Escobar 1995). Dezentralen Technologien wurde und wird jedoch hohes Potenzial für mehr Selbstbestimmung, lokale Kontrolle und Aneignung zugeschrieben. Dieser Gedanke lässt sich schon im Anschluss an allgemeine und kontextspezifische Technikkritik der 1970er Jahre (Schumacher 1973, Illich 1975, Ullrich 1979) finden und wird aktuell in Konzepten selbstbestimmter, bzw. ‚emanzipatorischer‘ (Boeing 2012) Technikentwicklung und -nutzung wieder aufgenommen.
Fragestellung: Die Frage ist daher, ob und inwiefern trotz der inhärent ungleichen und tendenziell paternalistischen Partnerschaftsstrukturen des Globalen Nordens und Südens (Baaz 2005) im Bereich der dezentralen Energietechnologien Projekte und Praxen möglich sind, die zum selbstbestimmten Verfolgen der Interessen und Bedürfnisse durch die Nutzer_innen bzw. der Akteure im Süden führen. Anhand zweier Fallstudien deutsch - tansanischer Partnerschaften werden Prozesse der Technik­entwicklung, technische Artefakte und Perspektiven betrachtet.
Informiert durch eine Anthropology of Energy, Technografie (Braun-Thürmann 2006) und Entwicklungs-Anthropologie werden im ersten Schritt die Prozesse der Technikentwicklung und -implementierung aus der Perspektive der beteiligten Akteure heraus rekonstruiert. Anschließend werden die soziotechnischen Konstellationen basierend auf einer postkolonialen Entwicklungs­forschung bzw. einer postcolonial technoscience (Anderson 2002, 2009) analysiert.
Die Fallstudien: Zum Einen wird die Kooperation eines tansanischen Bauernverbandes von Subsistenzbauern mit einer deutschen NGO der technischen Entwicklungs­zusammenarbeit betrachtet. In diesem Rahmen wird ein neuer Typ von Haushalts-Biogasanlagen entwickelt, der mit pflanzlichen Reststoffen aus der Landwirtschaft betrieben werden kann. In der zweiten Fallstudie hat ein Deutsches Startup – Unternehmen in Kooperation mit einem tansanischen Social Business Photovoltaikanlagen für Haushalte weiterentwickelt und implementiert. Hier wird mit Hilfe von Mobilfunktechnologie sowohl die Wartung der Geräte, ihre Bezahlung, als auch bei Zahlungsausfall ihre Abschaltung über dieselbe Technik ferngesteuert.

The post-World War II political discourse around development has stimulated academic debates in recent decades. While some of these debates simply aim to transform the development mainstream, many others among the post-colonial thinkers are more critical of and even reject mainstream development ideologies. Despite the valuable academic debates, most development practitioners seem to have remained unresponsive to some of the allegations. Their concept is incorporated in much of the contemporary political narratives and programs. Development has become a project targeting economically challenged places and people with the goal of bringing them a better life or positive changes.

Drawing from the various strategies to achieve the development goals, the present research was undertaken with the intention of analyzing grassroots cooperation in relation to local people’s development narratives and achievements. I based my analysis on the practices of community-based associations (CBAs) and individual achievements in rural areas. With the help of Constructivist Grounded Theory research methodology (Charmaz, 2014), the empirical data I collected from the Gakamba cell in Rwanda led me to Bourdieu (1986) to conceptualize social capital and the role of the CBAs and then to Sen (1979; 1992; 2012) to conceptualize development as the expansion of human capabilities.

During the data coding, the categories that emerged led to three major empirical chapters: Chapter 6 highlights the major reasons for starting and joining associations, Chapter 7 highlights the key components of the CBAs’ practices as I observed them and Chapter 8 sheds light on the Gakamba people’s conceptualization of their achievements within the framework of human development and the capability approach. In addition to this, I also described people’s contextual opportunities for development connected to their idea of the CBAs. Connecting people’s development narratives, the country’s political development discourse and the mainstream development narrative, I expanded on revitalizing Ubudehe through the community-based associations, a combination I describe as ‘indigenous development cooperation.’ I observed that despite some constraints within the Gakamba CBAs, people’s cooperation ultimately enhances their “capability” to function.

In this study, I delve into governmental and disciplinary technologies of microfinance institutions (MFIs) in Bangladesh. I reveal the disciplinary and governmental powers that guarantee proper repayment of debt in the state- and NGO-sponsored microfinance programs. Using Foucault’s notion of conduct of conduct, I uncover how loan officers consistently maintain meticulous control over borrowers and assure a docility-utility relationship. Based on seven months of fieldwork on rural microfinance in the North-eastern part of Bangladesh, I describe the strategic relationship of loan officers and borrowers, the loan officers’ techniques of recording and reporting borrowers, the methods of differentiating good and bad borrowers, the practices of putting special attention on particular borrowers, and surveillance processes over borrowers’ family and their economic activities. While microfinance programs are repeatedly hailed as an effective measure of development policy, this empirical research in Bangladesh arrives at a different result: a high extent of governing and disciplinary behaviors are present in microfinance programs. As a result, financial success is ensured through proper debt repayments.

This study also consults microfinance experts. The study explores different components of cultural and administrative apparatuses, showing the disciplinary methods of microfinance organizations that work on submissive borrowers. I interviewed six policy officials of two microfinance institutions – BRAC and Bangladesh Rural Development Board – and two experts from different institutions. Following an established way of analyzing expert interviews, the study concentrates on the experts’ own wording and interfaces them with theoretical and conceptual positions. Among various sets of dispositif, an ensemble of elements of an apparatus, the culture of loyalty to saviors, the discourse of empowerment, regulatory decisions and policies of MFIs, a culture of repayment habits, usage of technical measures and accessing asymmetric information of borrowers are critical in the power exerting process of the microfinance industry in Bangladesh. 



This study addresses the effectivity of the Anti-Bias approach and training methodology as a pedagogical political strategy to challenge oppression among student groups in the cities of Bombay and Berlin. The Anti-Bias trainings conducted within the framework of this study also become the medium through which the perpetuation of oppressive structures by students within and outside the school is investigated.
Empirical data from predominantly qualitative investigations in four secondary schools, two each in Bombay and Berlin, is studied and analysed on the basis of theoretical understandings of prejudice, discrimination and identity. This study builds on insights offered by previous research on prejudices and evaluations of anti-bias and diversity interventions, where the lack of sufficient research and thorough evaluations testing impact has been identified (Levy Paluck, 2006). The theoretical framework suggests that prejudices and discriminatory practices are learnt and performed by individuals over the years by way of pre-existing discourses, and that behaviour and practices can be unlearnt through a multi-step process. It proposes that the discursive practices of students contribute to the constitution of their viable selves and in the constitution of ‘others’. Drawing on this framework, the study demonstrates how student-subjects in Bombay and Berlin perpetuate oppressive discourses by performing their identities and performing identities onto ‘others’. Such performative constitution opens up the agency of the individual, disclosing the shifting and dynamic nature of identities. The Anti-Bias approach is posited as an alternative to oppressive discourses and a vehicle that encourages and assists the agency of individuals. The theoretical framework, which brings together a psychological approach to prejudice, a structural approach to discrimination and a poststructural approach to identity, facilitates the analysis of the perpetuation of dominant discourses by the students, as well as how they negotiate their way through familiar norms and discourses. Group discussions and interviews a year after the respective trainings serve to evaluate the agency of the students and the extent to which the training impacted on their perceptions, attitudes and behavioural practices.
The study reveals the recurrence of the themes race, religion, gender and sexuality in the representational practices of the students groups in Berlin and Bombay. It demonstrates how students in this study not only perform, but also negotiate and resist oppressive structures. Of particular importance is the role of the school: When schools offer no spaces for discussion, debate and action on contemporary social issues, learning can neither be put into practice nor take on a positive, transformative form. In such cases, agency and resistance is limited and interventionist actions yield little. This study reports the potential of the Anti-Bias approach and training as a tool of political education and action in education. It demonstrates that a single training can initiate change but sustaining change requires long-term strategies and ongoing actions. Taking a poststructural perspective, it makes concrete suggestions to adapt and alter the Anti-Bias approach and the implementation of Anti-Bias trainings.

The volunteer service „weltwärts“ tries to facilitate a contribution of individuals to a fairer world. However, what kind of perceptions are involved in a volunteering service positioned in a political context coined by unequal power relations? Using postcolonial and feminist theory, the author examines the representations and structures of the program. She asks about their colonial heritage and their benefits for the participants. The discourse analysis focuses on the critical debate about concepts of development in connection with concepts of global citizenship counting as a pedagogical answer to questions of globalization. The study shows the entanglement of colonial history and the presence of engagement in development cooperation. It illustrates the necessity of a critical analysis of power relations within similar programs in order to change global injustice instead of reproducing it.

Kristina Kontzi is currently living in Berlin and working as a freelancer, consulting Organizations and Initiatives to conduct a postcolonial perspective in their work. She is mainly working with glokal e.V.

Die Forschungsfrage dieses Promotionsvorhabens lautet, wie die Bevölkerung der ländlichen Busoga-Region in Uganda auf das Vordringen des globalen Kapitalismus in die lokale Wirtschaft reagiert. Hierbei wird alternativen, vor allem solidarischen, Wirtschaftsformen besondere Aufmerksamkeit gewidmet. Darunter werden hier wirtschaftliche Aktivitäten verstanden, die den Prinzipien der Solidarischen Ökonomie entsprechen (Utting 2015). Sie dienen dem Gemeinwohl einer Gruppe, nicht dem Profitstreben von Individuen. Die Gruppe teilt die Mitbestimmung sowie den Gewinn an der Produktion gleichmäßig unter einander auf. Im Idealfall kontrolliert die Gruppe selbst die Produktionsmittel und wirtschaftet ökologisch nachhaltig. Jene könnten vor Ort schon länger existieren und aufgrund der Globalisierung untergehen oder in Form von Abwehrmechanismen erstarken (Zaoual 1997). Ebenso könnten sie eine neue Überlebensstrategie und damit eine Reaktion auf Krisen sein, welche durch die Auswirkungen der Globalisierung oder fehlgeschlagene ‚Entwicklungs‘-Projekte ausgelöst wurden. Einige sind auch Produkte der Entwicklungszusammenarbeit bzw. staatlicher Initiativen (Develtere et al. 2008).


Die Fragestellung ergibt sich aus dem bislang kaum genutzten Potential alternativen Wissens aus den Ländern des globalen Südens (Santos 2014). Beforscht werden sie i.d.R., um ihre ‚Defizite‘ aufzuzeigen und sie nach dem Vorbild des globalen Nordens zu ‚entwickeln‘. Hier wird der gegenteilige Ansatz verfolgt, nämlich das gegenhegemoniale Potenzial alternativer Wirtschaftsformen in Uganda in den Vordergrund zu stellen. Dies geschieht aus der theoretischen Perspektive der Post-Development Studies sowie der Postkolonialen Studien. Hierbei soll jedoch keinesfalls eine Romantisierung oder Dichotomisierung stattfinden.

Im empirischen Teil werden qualitative Interviews in der Busoga-Region geführt. Die Befragten werden um ihre Beobachtungen der Alltagswirtschaft der vergangenen Jahrzehnte in ihrer Region gebeten. Zwecks eines gemeinsamen Verständnisses der westlich geprägten Begrifflichkeiten wurde der Leitfaden kultur- und sprachsensibel ausgearbeitet. Darüber hinaus sollen eine Dokumentenanalyse sowie ‚Experteninterviews‘ mit ugandischen Verwaltungsbeamt*innen, Wirtschaftswissenschaftler*innen und evtl. Mitarbeiter*innen von Nichtregierungsorganisationen den wirtschaftlichen Hintergrund der untersuchten Region ausleuchten.


This dissertation examines the construction of civil society in the development policy of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) with a special emphasis on Africa from 1998 to 2013. Recurring to central concepts of critical discourse analysis as well as postcolonial theories, the author elaborates on the integration of civil society within development cooperation as a technology of governance.

Civil society is constructed in the discourse as a self-responsible and active subject which is called upon to act. On the other hand, political power and governance relations as well as paradigms of the market economy remain unquestioned. All that despite the fact that the construction of civil society leads to a reproduction of colonial differences - as the BMZ depicts itself as an abled and acting entity. From this follow discursive effects of legitimation of development political acting as well as a rejection of development political objectives.

Inmitten des syrischen Bürgerkrieges hat sich im Norden des Landes ein neues gesellschaftliches Projekt herausgebildet, das auf der Theorie des Demokratischen Konföderalismus beruht. Diese Gesellschaftstheorie ist Gegenstand meines Promotionsvorhabens. Das Modell sieht eine nichtstaatliche basisdemokratische Organisierung der kurdischen Bevölkerung und ihrer Nachbarvölker im Mittleren Osten vor und wurde vom Gründer der Arbeiterpartei Kurdistans, Abdullah Öcalan, nach seiner Festnahme 1999 auf der Gefängnisinsel Imrali entworfen. Neben der praktischen Anwendung des Konzepts im breiteren Kontext seit 2011 im Norden Syriens wird das Modell schon seit Anfang der 2000er Jahre auch von kurdischen Geflüchteten in der nordirakischen Gemeinde Mexmûr umgesetzt.

Ich möchte den Demokratischen Konföderalismus mit Hilfe des Post-Development Ansatzes untersuchen. Die Denker des Post-Development Ansatzes haben unter der Bezeichnung "Alternativen zur Entwicklung" Prinzipien von gesellschaftlicher Organisierung jenseits des westlichen Entwicklungspfades entworfen, die auf einer Wiederaneignung der Politik, der Ökonomie und des Wissens durch die jeweilige Gesellschaft beruhen. Es handelt sich hierbei explizit um keine universalistisch, allgemeingültige Gesellschaftsformel, sondern um Leitlinien, die in ihrer Umsetzung entsprechend des lokalen Kontextes unterschiedliche Formen annehmen können. Anhand dieses theoretischen Rahmens soll in der Forschungsarbeit geprüft werden, inwieweit eine Wiederaneignung von Politik, Ökonomie und Wissen durch die Gesellschaft bei der Umsetzung des Konzepts des Demokratischen Konföderalismus realisiert werden kann. Die zentrale Forschungsfrage meiner Arbeit lautet somit, ob das Konzept des Demokratischen Konföderalismus eine "Alternative zur Entwicklung" im Sinne des Post-Development Ansatzes darstellt.

Die theoretische Auseinandersetzung mit dem Demokratischen Konföderalismus setzt sich unter anderem aus der Untersuchung der Schriften Öcalans zu diesem Modell und Expert*inneninterviews mit politischen Vertreter*innen, die sich auf dieses Konzept beziehen, zusammen. Den Schwerpunkt der Arbeit soll allerdings eine empirische Untersuchung des Gesellschaftsmodells darstellen. Hierzu sollen im Rahmen einer teilnehmenden Beobachtung eine oder mehrere Forschungsreisen in den Norden Syriens unternommen werden. Die aktive Teilnahme an den basisdemokratischen Rätestrukturen sowie die Mitwirkung an bestehenden Ökonomie- und Bildungskomitees sind dabei vorgesehen. Auch soll der Wandel in der Lebensrealität der Menschen vor Ort vor und nach der Umsetzung des Gesellschaftsmodells untersucht werden. Die Erfahrungen der Bevölkerung des Geflüchtetencamps Mexmûr mit diesem Gesellschaftsmodell sollen in den Forschungsprozess einbezogen werden.

Ziel des Forschungsvorhabens ist neben einer theoriegeleiteten Auseinandersetzung mit dem Gesellschaftsmodell des Demokratischen Konföderalismus, auch die Bereicherung des Konzepts der "Alternative zur Entwicklung" um ein aktuelles empirisches Beispiel.

Unsatisfactory results of the last 60 years of ‘development’ call for radical approaches within ‘development’ studies. Critical discourse analysis (CDA) is useful in showing the hidden assumptions of discourses employed by various actors in the field. Emanating from the post-structuralist approach, it is the basis for the methodology used in the thesis.
Since ‘development’ discourse is manifold, four related discourses will be analyzed in addition to it - the discourse of ‘sustainable development’, micro-credit discourse, educational discourse, and the discourse of the participatory approach to ‘development’. Slovak and Austrian state and non-state actors will be analyzed in relation to these discourses. These actors are: Slovak Agency for International Development Cooperation, Pontis Foundation, People in Peril, Austrian Developmnt Agency, Austroprojekt and Care Austria. The corpus will consist of various texts such as introductory website informations, press releases or project reports and of semi-structured interviews with up to 30 representatives of the actors. The method will be an analysis of text based on Foucault’s Archaelogy of Knowledge and Theo van Leeuwen’s CDA.
The main point of the thesis is the question of the potential of the postcolonial critique for ‘development’ policy. Within this framework the main goal will be to answer more concrete questions by conducting a thorough analysis: How are the ‘development’ discourses reflected in the discourses of the state and non-state actors? What are the differences between each of the actors, between state and non-state actors and between Austrian and Slovak actors regarding their discursive and non-discursive elements?

The dissertation project aims at determining the practicability of Post-Development theory. To do so, the work focuses on partnerships between international Non-governmental Organisations (INGOs) and local NGOs in Haiti. Arguing that mainstream development has failed, Post-Development no longer searches for alternative Development approaches, but rather for alternatives to Development. As a possible mean of these alternatives, a form of "development-as-politics" is envisaged, in which local and international actors engage in selective, political interactions. Post-Development approaches have been extensively discussed theoretically but insufficiently been examined in practice. For this reason, it is explored to what extent international NGOs as actors of mainstream development can and do comply with approaches of Post-Development, what the necessary conditions are and how questions of knowledge, power and cooptation are confronted within cooperations. The principle of partnership, which is often stressed by INGOs, is in the centre of the analysis. A discourse-analytical approach is pursued, allowing the exploration of language, text and interaction by means of an analysis of strategy papers, qualitative interviews and case studies.

[ open access, publisher]

In 1993, the Inspection Panel (IP) was set up by the World Bank (WB) in response to civil society protest over the negative consequences of the Sardar-Sarovar dam project. Since then, the IP has allowed individuals who are negatively affected by WB-funded projects to file complaints against the WB through an institutional process. Almost all development banks have followed this example by setting up similar Institutional Accountability Mechanisms (IAMs).

Even though the complaints are not legally binding, research on IAMs show evermore often that local project impacts are contrary to the proclaimed project goals. Moreover, IAMs proved their potential to add local project impacts on the institutional and political agenda of involved Development Banks. However, their institutional embeddedness limits their scope of action.

Based on this, the project examines the possibilities and limits of IAMs to trigger institutional action in response to filed complaints. The extent to which IAMs succeed in initiating institutional learning that goes beyond the project implementation is explored regarding potential obstacles resulting from institutional structures and processes. 

Thus, the project is located at the intersections of Development Research, Global Economic Governance Research and Postcolonial Studies. The aim of the project is therefore to provide a scientific contribution to development policy practices with regard to the implementation of institutional accountability. In the form of critical policy analysis, the project addresses articulation and representation forms of liberal governance and aims to develop guidelines for a postcolonial organizational-research agenda.