“Rhodes must fall”, decolonising knowledge, decolonising the curriculum, decolonising the university: against the backdrop of these ever-growing debates in the higher education sector, there is an urgent need to consider what decolonising development might mean. Given the extensive and far-reaching issues involved, the below is not meant as an exhaustive answer, but an initial attempt to reflect on some key questions. Thoughts very welcome!
What is decolonising?
As with many terms used in academia, the meaning of ‘decolonising’ is contested and varied. In development studies, different strands of literature and thought, such as post-development approaches, post-colonial critiques and critical or radical perspectives (e.g. Escobar, 1992; Kothari, 2005; Langdon, 2013; Rivera Cusicanqui, 2012) address issues of decoloniality. Fundamentally, for many authors, it means questioning and unpacking how colonial and hegemonic structures of power continue to produce contemporary inequalities, and reflecting on how these highly unequal structures can be addressed.
In efforts to decolonise knowledge and the curriculum, this has often meant paying attention to voices that have long been excluded or marginalised, such as those from the global South, voices of people of colour (from global North and South), women and indigenous people, among many others. However, scholars (e.g. Noxolo, 2017) have also pointed out the risk that incorporating marginalised voices can become a fig leaf and cop-out, leaving unchanged most unequal, excluding and marginalising structures within academia and higher education. Thus, including marginalised perspectives can only be the first step towards more profound change.
Professor Lord Nicholas Stern, LSE and Professor Himanshu, Jawaharlal Nehru University gave a lecture entitled: ‘How Lives Change: Palanpur, India and Development Economics’. The lecture draws on a 7-decade detailed data collection in a single village. The study of Palanpur, India illuminates the drivers of change, why some people do better or worse than others, and what influences mobility and inequality.
Listen to the lecture in full below.
On the latest episode of the Global Development Institute podcast researchers, Jonathan Glennie and Pablo Yanguas discuss how and why we need to rethink aid.
A group of young people from Hulme and Moss Side, youth workers and those working in or from East Africa, as well as members of the public, attended the open event which also formed part of our ongoing commitment to public engagement around global inequalities – one of our five research beacons at The University of Manchester.
After some years away from the water literature I’ve been struck by extent to which a language of neoliberalism has permeated the sector.
There are significant costs to this use of language. Language which obfuscates has contributed to a shift away from addressing the water needs of citizens who are disadvantaged and on the lowest incomes. Particular concepts are equipping the sector to behave like a market, even when that is neither the stated objectives nor the desired culture.
Three specific terms demonstrate how this shift in language opens up some research questions and closes down others.
As part of the ESRC Festival of Social Science, we’ll be holding a film screening followed by a learning exchange and discussion with youth groups in Manchester to see what can be learnt across these geographies about youth vulnerability and disenfranchisement. Wht is this important? Tanzania has one of the youngest populations in the world. With half of the population aged 25 and under, the median age is 17 years old. One-fifth of the population is between the ages of 15 and 24 and therefore classified as ‘young’ by the United Nations definition. This constitutes around 10 million Tanzanians, with this number expected to double in the next two decades.
Understanding and addressing the problems facing young people is therefore critical, and this will be increasingly central to broader developmental outcomes in Tanzania. What happens if these aren’t put front and centre of policy and programmes? In their Next Generation Tanzania report, the British Council sparks our imagination with the phrase “[embrace the democratic] dividend or disaster”, emphasising the centrality of the issue to Tanzania’s development and potential. read more…
Rajab Mohandis, alumnus of the Global Development Institute
Civil society organisations (CSOs) play a constructive role in public affairs in South Sudan. They contribute to the search for peace and stability, public policy formulation and implementation, protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms, information dissemination and delivery of life-saving humanitarian assistance to needy populations in the country. Besides this massive public presence however, the concept of civil society appears to be confusing in the public domain. This article attempts to provide some level of clarity on the identity of CSOs, focusing on South Sudan. read more…
Open Access week for 2018 runs from 22-28th of October. To celebrate you can find a selection of our Open Access publications from the last academic year below.
Open Access is a core value at the Global Development Institute, as Diana Mitlin, Managing Director of Global Development Institute, explains:
“The majority of research at GDI is made available either Green or Gold Open Access, and our GDI Working Paper Series is always free to download. Open Access is key in supporting the core values that GDI holds as an Institute: inclusivity, responsibility, equity and sustainability. read more…
Poverty and social injustice: why are people advocating a ‘relational’ approach? (and what does that mean anyway?)
‘Global inequalities’ is one of The University of Manchester’s research beacons. How can academic research into inequalities improve our understanding; how can it help to inform policy and activism; and how can it be critical and morally engaged, while also being rigorous and high quality? That last question has particularly been on my mind recently in light of a rising tide of sceptical critiques of academic work on social justice. read more…