The making and unmaking of development: SDGs and beyond

Panel debate with Jason HickelLata Narayanaswamy and Ruth Nyambura

September 24 – 19:30-21:00 (CEST) – recorded online session – co-organised by the GiC Network

The development paradigm, rooted in colonial heritages, based on modernist notions of progress, and premised on unsustainable economic growth, has been subject to postcolonial academic and (grassroots) activist critiques almost as early as it was introduced in the 1950s. Presently, however, with the compounded effects of economic and climate crises, and the migration/refugee debate, the notion of ‘post-development’ is gaining wider currency, urging both academics and the development sector to explore alternatives to development. Addressing key challenges such as debt, poverty, growing inequalities and environmental degradation, the panel debate will discuss the SDGs as the most recent (inherently contradictory) expressions of the development paradigm, and debate alternative approaches, knowledge-bases and practices. 

Ruth Nyambura is a Kenyan eco-feminist and researcher working on the intersections of ecological justice in Africa. Her work and activism uses a feminist political ecology lens to critically engage with the continent’s and global food systems, challenging neoliberal models of agrarian transformation and amplifying the revolutionary work of small-holder farmers of Africa—the majority of whom are women—as well as rural agrarian movements offering concrete anti-capitalist alternatives to the ecological, economic and democratic crisis facing the continent. 

Jason Hickel is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the Department of Anthropology of LSE (London, UK). He is an anthropologist and Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts. Hickel’s research focuses on global inequality, political economy, post-development and ecological economics. His most recent book, The Divide: A Brief Guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions (Penguin Random House UK, 2017) explores the historical and political drivers of inequality between the global North and South. 

Lata Narayanaswamy is Lecturer in International Development in the School of Politics and International Studies (POLIS) at the University of Leeds (UK). Her research focuses on how power imbalances in knowledge systems underpin the work of feminist/intersectional movements and organisations working at the interface of inclusion and exclusion in developing countries. Her most recent monograph is Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development. She is currently involved in interdisciplinary research that cuts across climate change, water security, menstruation, gender norms and decolonising development.

Moderator: Jan Orbie is Associate Professor at the Centre for EU Studies and the Department of Political Science at Ghent University. His research and teaching focuses on the international policies of the EU, in particular EU trade and development policies. He is co-editor of the Ghent Centre for Global Studies blog series “Debating the SDGs”, which was also published on MO*Magazine.

Watch the recorded online debate here.