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01/15/2020 | Pressemitteilung

Rethinking North-South relations

Development aid - this term evokes many associations: Some see people willing to help, full of good intentions, traveling to poor countries. Others see it at best as a consolation for unjust structures in the global economy.

Image: University of Kassel

Professor Dr. Aram Ziai takes a clear position on this issue: "The entire discourse on developed and underdeveloped countries stems from colonialist thinking," says the political scientist, who heads the Department of Development Policy and Postcolonial Studies at the University of Kassel. "Even today, development cooperation is in part rather foreign trade promotion in disguise and does nothing to change the unjust international structures that have existed since colonial times to this day."

With his research, Prof. Ziai wants to help overcome these structures and put North-South relations on a new footing. On the way to achieving this, Ziai, whose professorship originated as a Heisenberg Professorship of the German Research Foundation, has now taken a major step: together with 12 universities and around 20 non-governmental organizations from around the world, he has submitted an application to the German Academic Exchange Service DAAD, which was recently approved: On April 1, 2020, the new center called GPN - GPN stands for "Global Partnership Network" - will start as part of the Exceed program ("University Excellence in Development Cooperation"). Having already funded the International Center for Development and Decent Work (ICDD) in the last ten years, the GPN is already the second Exceed center at the University of Kassel.

"On the one hand, the GPN wants to focus on concrete issues of development cooperation and the global economy - i.e. global partnerships in the fields of agriculture, finance and renewable energies" describes Prof. Ziai. "But at the same time, we also want to do very grassroots work over the next five years to involve disadvantaged groups in different countries in the process of knowledge production."

To this end, workshops will be organized, among other things, to enable people to enter into discussions around development cooperation at eye level. In order not to burden the environment with many air travels in the global network, innovative ways are to be developed for this purpose to also collaborate digitally - via video conferencing, online courses and open source software.

Prof. Ziai: "We hope that with the new Exceed center we can contribute to overcoming colonial thought patterns and practices, and start on the path to a real global partnership - just as stated in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals." 



Prof. Dr. Aram Ziai

Department of Social Sciences
Nora-Platiel-Str. 1
34127 Kassel, Germany

E- mail: ziai[at]uni-kassel[dot]de