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Critical visions of development from the Global Development Institute: Uniting the strengths of IDPM and BWPI.

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The Drama of Resilience – or the head, heart and soul of places, people and change

The Drama of Resilience – or the head, heart and soul of places, people and change

By Dr Robbie Watt, who gained his PhD from the Global Development Institute and is now a Lecturer in International Politics at The University of Manchester.

Poster in New Orleans

Image: Because every time you say, “Oh, they’re resilient,” that means you can do something else to me. . Image source: https://twitter.com/JulReid/status/405024781772148736

‘Ohh, resilience.’

When I mentioned resilience, the topic of that evening’s GDI lecture to social worker friends in a Manchester pub, their reaction was cynical. ‘We hear about resilience all the time,’ they said disdainfully. Manchester social work, facing austerity and cuts, deploys resilience terminology to justify withdrawal from tragic situations. Don’t worry, they are resilient.

Professor Katrina Brown, Chair in Social Science at the University of Exeter, is by no means ivory tower bound nor isolated from stories such as these. In New Orleans, post-Hurricane Katrina, people objected to being labelled resilient, and Professor Brown was there to notice.

The language of resistance and political struggle can be avowedly anti-resilience. Yet Professor Brown sees resistance as (just?) one part of resilience. Naming grassroots resistance and struggle as (mere?) aspects of resilience invites controversy because resilience has been criticised as a neoliberal and depoliticising concept that speaks to ideas of self-reliance and technocratic governance. Hence there is a tension involved in calling resistance efforts, which often challenge neoliberal policies, as intertwined with resilience.

Nevertheless, resilience is a sufficiently broad concept that Prof Katrina Brown can escape definitions that conform to neoliberal ideas. Indeed Prof Brown’s work, including her recently published monologue Resilience, Development and Global Change, is critical of business-as-usual policy discourses on resilience. Her aim is rather to reclaim resilience as a rich analytical concept that can help us to understand processes of change in dynamic socio-ecological systems, where people and landscapes interact with power and agency.

In her excellent lecture, Prof Brown identified three components of resilience – resistance, rootedness, and resourcefulness – giving colourful examples of each. She then showed us how resilience can be articulated in an empowering fashion through participatory theatre. I turn to each below. read more…

WATCH: Participatory planning in Ruimsig, Johannesburg

WATCH: Participatory planning in Ruimsig, Johannesburg

Professor Diana Mitlin recently visited Ruimsig, Johannesburg, to learn about participatory planning. This research is part of a new network on ‘Achieving Inclusive Cities through Scaling up Participatory Planning in Africa’ which is being led by Prof Mitlin. The network was awarded £120,000 by the Leverhulme Trust and will bring together community organisations and academic departments in three sub-Saharan African countries and researchers at the Global Development Institute.

You can watch Diana’s interviews with local community activists below. read more…

‘Thank you for taking us seriously’: Disseminating Research Findings with Displaced People in Colombia

‘Thank you for taking us seriously’: Disseminating Research Findings with Displaced People in Colombia

By Dr Luis Eduardo Pérez Murcia, photos by Diego Sainea

Dr Luis Eduardo Pérez Murcia completed his PhD in 2016 on the experiences of losing and remaking home for those people in Colombia who had been internally displaced as a result of violence. On February 24 2017 Luis Eduardo presented the findings of his research to the research participants and on February 28 to scholars, policymakers, and national and international bodies which assist displaced people in Colombia. This blog shares some of his reflections on the process of dissemination of results with research participants.

While doing my PhD at the Global Development Institute I gained invaluable skills. The opportunity to discuss and present my research to my supervisors, examiners and a wide range of specialists in the fields of migration and home, provided me with the confidence to communicate my ideas to different audiences.

The most challenging presentations, however, were feeding back the findings of the research to the research participants themselves. I realized that talking about the interplay between conflict, displacement, and home with those whose life stories informed my research, was one of the most challenging experiences. I found myself in an odd situation explaining to those who know first-hand the impacts of conflict and displacement and how these result in the loss of a sense of home; what and where home is for those who flee following conflict; the negative experiences of living without a place called home; and the myriad difficulties displaced people deal with in their everyday lives to remake the feeling of being at home. read more…

Production networks, value chains and shifting end markets: implications for sustainability

Production networks, value chains and shifting end markets: implications for sustainability

Sustainability is everywhere – but what does it mean in the context of globalised production relations? A panel at the Development Studies Association (DSA) Conference, 6-8 September 2017, will aim to explore this very sustainability-value chain nexus. With a session titled “Production networks, value chains and shifting end markets: implications for sustainability”, we aim to discuss how sustainability and the globalised production context interlink. Abstracts for the panel organised by The University of Manchester researchers Aarti Krishnan, Judith Krauss, Stephanie Barrientos and Khalid Nadvi are due by 26th April, to be submitted through the DSA website.

Hundreds of years ago, the concept of sustainability emerged in the context of using and protecting forest resources. While the term has become increasingly popular, its meaning has also become ever more contested. For instance, while an oil company may use it to justify its extraction of fossil fuel from tar sands as meeting human needs for affordable energy, environmental activists may use the same term, though not the same notion, to contest the practice. read more…

What the poor spend on health care

What the poor spend on health care

By Stuart Rutherford, Honorary Research Fellow at The Global Development Institute

This is the fourth in a series of short articles about the findings of a daily ‘financial diary’ research project in Bangladesh. In this article, we look at the spending on health care of 48 of our ‘diarists’, using daily data for the 15-month period from 1st December 2015 to 28th February 2017.

How much did they spend?
Between them, our 48 diarists spent 491,524 Bangladeshi taka on healthcare in the period. At market exchange rates that’s about US$6,145, but at the more meaningful ‘PPP’ (purchasing power parity) rate, which makes allowances for the fact that things are cheaper in Bangladesh than in America, it is the equivalent of around $12,290, or $256 per diarist. Since the households that the diarists represent hold a total of 206 people, that’s a little under $60 a person, or $3.98 per month per person.

How much of a hole did that make in their finances?
Our first chart compares spending on health care with some other big components of the ordinary household spending of the 48 diarists in the period, by which we mean all outflows except business costs (like buying stock for a shop), financial outflows (savings deposits and loan repayments), large investments in land and buildings, and transfers to other people in the same household. Healthcare takes up 6% of that spending, behind the 26% spent on food and the 22% spent on home maintenance, but ahead, for example, of education, utilities and clothes. read more…

Watch: Prof Uma Kothari on whether universities are part of the populism problem

Watch: Prof Uma Kothari on whether universities are part of the populism problem

Professor Uma Kothari recently appeared on a panel discussion at the University of Melbourne. The discussion which asked, ‘Are universities part of the populism problem?’ featured Jeffery Bleich, former US Ambassador to Australia and current Chair of the Fulbright Board; Professor Glyn Davis, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Melbourne; and Maxine McKew, former politician and journalist now based at the University of Melbourne. read more…

GDI Lecture Series: Resilience, Development and Global Change with Professor Katrina Brown

GDI Lecture Series: Resilience, Development and Global Change with Professor Katrina Brown

On Wednesday, 22 March, Professor Katrina Brown gave a lecture entitled: Resilience, Development and Global Change: Resistance, Rootedness and Resourcefulness. You can watch the live stream below

Note: This article gives the views of the author/academic featured and does not represent the views of the Global Development Institute as a whole.
The suppliant women and the perennial question: who will provide asylum and stand up for moral values?

The suppliant women and the perennial question: who will provide asylum and stand up for moral values?

By Dr Tanja R. Müller Senior Lecturer in Development Studies at the Global Development Institute 

A group of women form the shape of a boat – one of those boats we are used to see in media pictures these days, unseaworthy but still trying to cross the Mediterranean from Lybia or other North African countries to Italy, or from Turkey to Greece, and too full of people. Like the boat that was once carrying Aylan Kurdi and the many others who perished like him. The women here are a group of multi-ethnic teenagers and young adults from Greater Manchester, waving poles with a white flag and wrapping black scarves around their bodies – to symbolise both, their hope for peace and asylum and their desperation if those are not granted (the scarves can be made into hoses to hang themselves).

The scene is the stage of the Royal Exchange Theatre in Manchester, and the women are part of a modern interpretation of one of the world’s oldest plays, written by Aeschylus in Ancient Greece around 2500 years ago. read more…

Development Implications of Digital Economies Strategic Network

Development Implications of Digital Economies Strategic Network

The Development Implications of Digital Economies (DIODE) Strategic Network is a newly funded project which will be led by Professor Richard Heeks. The network received £129,000 as part of the Economic and Social Research Council’s Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF). The below blog, which originally appeared on the DIODE website, provides an outline of the project and what it aims to achieve.

As digital technologies – the internet, web, mobile phones, social networks, 3D printers, etc – spread around the world, both work and business are changing via creation of digital economies.

There has already been impact in developing countries: thousands of digital startups, millions working in the ICT sector, millions more undertaking online work for platforms like Upwork. And the potential is even greater: hundreds of millions could access online work platforms, digital businesses like Uber and Airbnb are spreading rapidly, demand for digital enterprises is high, 3D-printing could level the manufacturing playing field, etc. But problems are also arising: most digital startups and digital careers fail; most citizens are unable to participate in digital economies; the benefits of digital work and trade seem to flow more to big corporations in the global North than to workers, enterprises or governments in the global South. read more…

GDI at the Development Studies Association Conference

GDI at the Development Studies Association Conference

Eleven academics from the Global Development Institute are helping to convene seven panels at the annual DSA conference in September. The 2017 Development Studies Association Conference will be held at the University of Bradford from the 6-8th September and will focus on Sustainability interrogated: societies, growth, and social justice and will feature.

Professor David Hulme, Executive Director of the Global Development Institute, will also deliver the President’s Valedictory lecture. read more…

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