Seminar: The making and unmaking of development: de- and reconstructions


Seminar: The making and unmaking of development: de- and reconstructions

The Global Studies Research Seminar of 2020 is co-organised with the Governance in Conflict Network and will focus on ‘post-development’ as a burgeoning academic and societal debate. 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. This seminar is part of a PhD research training programme and will introduce researchers to development critiques and the different strands of post-development thought and practice, including the degrowth paradigm proposed in the Global North, as well as decolonial perspectives and indigenous epistemologies from the Global South (e.g. post-extractivism and Buen Vivir in Latin America). Addressing key challenges such as debt, poverty, growing inequality and environmental degradation, the seminar will allow to bridge debates and initiatives in the Global North and South, so as to replace the unidirectional North-South development paradigm with an integrated critical global perspective.

Throughout the learning path that starts with 3 preparatory reading groups in February, March and April, and ends with the 2,5 day seminar with the international guest lecturers in May, students and researchers will:
1) gain a critical understanding of ‘development’ as a discourse, a paradigm and a practice, and of debates on post-development or alternatives to development
2) acquire a critical lens through which to view and to analyse ‘development’ as a set of contested – and oftentimes contradicting –  social, political, economic, ecological and historical concepts
3) be able to engage in critical dialogue on the means and ends of ‘development’ with academic peers but also with professionals in the development cooperation sector (NGO’s and policy-makers) as well as grassroots activists (who are putting into practice alternatives to development)


During the preparatory reading groups in February, March and April, the students and researchers will familiarize themselves with the writings of the guest lecturers and/or key texts on the respective topics they will discuss, so as to allow them to prepare the workshops of the seminar in May.

The seminar will consist of 3 academic workshops with 3 international guest lecturers, in which students act as discussants (3 groups of students prepare the debate, one group per workshop); followed documentary film screenings and talks by grassroots activists elaborating on their “post-development” concepts and practices.

In keeping with decolonial pedagogies that focus on non-hierarchical participatory and collaborative learning, the dominant teaching method in the 2,5 day seminar is “flip the classroom.”

In addition, the 3 international guest lecturers will be invited for a public keynote debate, and to participate in a roundtable with representatives from the development sector (policy-makers and NGO’s).

The final assignment for the students will be to write a short essay on “alternatives to development” (in theory and in practice). The best papers will be published on the blog “Thinking post-development” of the Governance in Conflict Network.



Reading groups

Location: meeting room Patrice Lumumba, Dept. of Conflict and Development Studies – Universiteitstraat 8

  • February 20 (1-4 pm) – On poverty, debt and inequality: Jason Hickel (2017) The divide. A brief guide to Global Inequality and its Solutions.London: Penguin books – discussion introduced and facilitated by prof. dr. Koenraad Bogaert (dept. of Conflict and Development Studies – UGent)
  • March 19 (1-4 pm) – On the (un)commons, post-extractivism and environmental justice: Mario Blaser and Marisol de la Cadena (2017) ‘The Uncommons’, special issue of Antroplogica, 59 (1) – discussion introduced and facilitated by prof. dr. Deborah Delgado Pugley(Pontifica Universidad Catolica del Peru, Lima, visiting scholar dept. of Conflict and Development Studies)
  • April 30 (1-4 pm) – On knowledge for (post-)development and Southern-based epistemologies – Lata Narayanaswamy (2017) Gender, Power and Knowledge for Development.Routledge Explorations in Development Studies – discussion introduced and facilitated by dr. Julia Schöneberg (University of Kassel, visiting scholar dept. of Political Sciences)


Seminar – May 18-20

Locations: Campus Aula – Korte meer, Paddenhoek, Volderstraat

Monday May 18

  • Workshop: (un)commons, environmental justice and post-extractivism– by dr. Pavel Lopez (Università di Milano ‘Bicocca’, Italia) – 2-5 pm –Room: John Vincke, Korte Meer 5
  • Screening & talk: Undeveloping the world? Grassroots alternatives to development: documentary, followed by conversation between film-makers and grass-roots activists from the Global South: “Minga – Voices of resistance” (tbc) by Pauline Dutron (2019) indigenous resistance against deforestation in the Amazon – 6-8 pm – Room:  Filmzaal Plateau, Paddenhoek 3

Tuesday May 19

  • Workshop: Alternatives to global development policies – by dr. Jason Hickel (London School of Economics, UK) – 10 am-1 pm – Room: Facultaire Raadzaal Rechten Emile Braunschool, Volderstraat 3
  • Workshop: Decolonising development and Southern-based knowledges – by dr. Lata Narayanaswamy (Leeds University, UK) – 2-5 pm – Room: Facultaire Raadzaal Rechten Emile Braunschool, Volderstraat 3
  • Screening & talkUndeveloping the world? Grassroots alternatives to development:documentary, followed by conversation between film-makers and grass-roots activists from the Global South: “Amussu” (tbc) by Nadir Bouhmouch (2019) about indigenous (Amazigh) resistance to a mining-project in Imider, Morroco – 6-8 pm – Room: Filmzaal Plateau, Paddenhoek 3

Wednesday May 20

  • Roundtable: The opportunities and challenges of post-development in practice – with invited experts from the development sector and Pavel Lopez, Jason Hickel and Lata Narayanaswamy – 2-5 pm – Room: John Vincke, Korte Meer 5
  • Public keynote debate: The making and unmaking of development. De- and reconstructions with Pavel Lopez, Jason Hickel and Lata Narayanaswamy –– Room: Academieraadzaal, Volderstraat 9

You can register for this course on the online learning platform Zephyr:

In order to find the course on Zephyr and register, login with CAS (for UGent students and staff) or as a free user, go to “inschrijven op cursussen”, search for “Global Studies Research Seminar” or the course code X000363, and register by signing up as a user.

To complete your registration, please send a brief introduction of yourself (your position and research) to Julie.Carlier(at)

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