Common Challenges for All? A Critical Engagement with the Emerging Vision for Post-pandemic Development Studies

Jorg Wiegratz, Pritish Behuria, Christina Laskaridis, Lebohang Liepollo Pheko, Ben Radley, Sara Stevano

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The COVID-19 pandemic motivated calls for the field of development studies to be recast. This article analyses two prominent, future-gazing ‘pandemic papers’ to illustrate salient features of the ascendant trend towards a new ‘global development’ paradigm. By unpacking and interpreting major lines of reasoning put forward by two agenda-setting articles, this contribution appraises how these texts make the case for the future of development studies. Through this analysis, the article questions the core arguments that seek to shift the contours of the discipline, and thus the study of development generally. In making their call to adopt a universalist or global development framework that includes a focus on Europe and North America, the authors of the ‘pandemic papers’ overlook the Southern origins of and justifications for the North‒South framework they seek to overturn. The present article acknowledges the importance of and supports returning to and advancing — rather than jettisoning — the intellectual lineage anchored in non-Truman understandings of development, including as a popular project of Southern emancipation from colonial, imperial and structural subordination. Rather than de-centring the global North‒South framework, it suggests that the analytically more useful way forward is for development studies to (re)centre the global South and use global South theories and lenses to better understand the world economy and the majority world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)921-953
Number of pages32
JournalDevelopment and Change
Issue number5
Early online date2 Sept 2023
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We focus on what we consider to be two highly influential and agenda‐setting pieces, illustrative of broader trends, because of the importance, historically, of influential academic scholarship in development studies with respect to broader policy prerogatives. Development studies has always been vulnerable to the most pernicious aspects of what Jessop ( 2018 ) refers to as ‘academic capitalism’. In the UK, with the increased marketization of higher education since the 1990s, academic departments have been set in competition with one another to access sources of revenue. This is the case in terms of publications, reputation, students, research and, increasingly, consultancy grants. The increased emphasis on grants with a global outlook has put UK‐based development studies departments and centres in an advantageous position in comparison to other disciplines. Traditionally home to interdisciplinary scholars committed to globally oriented research, development studies departments have been well placed to compete for and secure grants funded by the UK government and Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, such as the Global Challenges Research Fund. Thus, development studies departments — though often working closely with one another — are incentivized to present themselves as being ahead of the curve or leading the latest academic trend.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. Development and Change published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of International Institute of Social Studies.


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