COST DecolDEV Summer School “Decolonising Development: Knowledge and Practice” (Kassel, 3 – 5 July 2023)

Both ‘decolonising’ and ‘development’ are terms that are extensively drawn upon in scholarly debate, policy and practice, while at the same time being widely contested. It is generally recognised that development as a paradigm and practice is irresolvably interlinked with power, the production of knowledge about and subsequent control of other peoples, places and spaces beyond Europe (Crush 1995, Ziai 2017). Yet, the way knowledge about ‘development’ is structured, validated, distributed and then translated to practice remains deeply intertwined with a dichotomous Eurocentric worldview shaping assumptions and analyses about “the Rest” and the problems and challenges that are framed as local or global (McDonnell, 2003; Slater, 2004; Santos 2015; Radcliffe, 2017). Steps for moving beyond linear evolutionism, modernization and towards epistemic pluralism and global justice are uncomfortable for those in the global North – and too often merely tokenistic. At the same time, visions of a pluriverse in which, as the Zapatista imagine, “many worlds fit”, are treading a fine line between prescriptiveness and (cultural) relativism. 

The summer school departs from the conviction that the question of whose knowledges count, are heard and considered legitimate is central. Decolonisation of knowledge about ‘development’ cannot mean maintaining a paternalist binary of those already developed and those less developed, nor subverting it into an opposite binary signifying all Western as evil and all non-Western as noble. Rather it must mean scrutinizing the structures and institutions that maintain power imbalances and the ideas that support paternalist relations and assumptions of superiority according to intersectional objectification of the Other.

In our summer school we are asking: What does ‘decolonising development’ tangibly and practically mean? How can it, beyond the lip service, be acted upon? By whom, when and where? What does imagining a pluriverse mean from our specific positionalities and locations?

We will approach the issue of decolonising ‘development’ from different angles. Departing from an intersectional feminist stance, we will jointly explore concepts and practices of activisms and solidarity, development cooperation and aid, as well as popular culture.

To apply:

We welcome applications from graduate and postgraduate students, practitioners and activists.

Please complete the application form until 26 March 2023.

As part of your application we ask for a short letter of motivation (max. 500 words) stating why you would like to participate, what you hope to (un-)learn and how the summer school relates to your work/activisms/other engagements.

Limited funding to support travel and accommodation is available for participants with no or precarious employment contracts, Postgraduate and PhD students. Please indicate in your application whether you would like to apply for this.

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