Towards a Reinvention of Development Theory – Theorizing Post-Development

The project aims at overcoming the present paradigmatic crisis in development theory through a systematic theorization of post-development approaches. The paradigmatic crisis is linked to the legacy of an Eurocentric evolutionism in development theory, which leads to a narrow conception of what a good, "developed" society should look like. Post-development approaches, with their critique of Eurocentrism and power relations, and especially through the focus on non-Western models of politics, economics, knowledge and culture, allow for a broadening of horizons, a reinvention of development theory leaving behind the evolutionism that has shaped the discipline in the past - and many aspects continues to do so.

To contribute to this reinvention, the project will:

  1. review and analyse the extensive literature on post-development concepts and practices, with the aim of systematically theorizing this perspective,
  2. classify different variants of post-development, examine the viability and desirability of the alternatives they propagate,
  3. trace the shift in post-development literature towards a more constructive approach,
  4. consider gender relations in post-development,
  5. clarify theoretical ambivalences.

On this basis, the theorisation of post-development will contribute to a reinvention of development theory that takes into account Eurocentrism and power relations in "development" without dismissing demands for greater material equality at the global level.