SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Deconstructing Development Discourse: Buzzwords and Fuzzwords Revisited

Professor Andrea Cornwall, Dr Tania Kaiser & Dr Meera Sabaratnam | SOAS University of London

Date: 15 January 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 15 January 2019Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT)

Type of Event: Seminar

Why should language matter to those who are doing development? Surely there are more urgent things to do than sit around mulling over semantics? But language does matter. Whether emptied of their original meaning, essentially vacuous or hotly contested, the language of development not only shapes our imagined worlds, but also justifies interventions in real people's lives. If development buzzwords conceal ideological differences or sloppy thinking, then the process of constructive deconstruction makes it possible to re-examine what have become catch-all terms like civil society and poverty reduction, or bland aid-agency terms such as partnership or empowerment. Such engagement is far more than a matter of playing word games but involves how we think of development itself.


Loading the player...

Deconstructing Development Discourse: Buzzwords and Fuzzwords Revisited


Andrea Cornwall is a political anthropologist who specialises in the anthropology of democracy, citizen participation, participatory research, gender and sexuality. She has worked on topics ranging from understanding women's perspectives on family planning, fertility and sexually transmitted infection in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, public engagement in UK regeneration programmes, the quality of democratic deliberation in new democratic spaces in Brazil, the use and abuse of participatory appraisal in Kenya, domestic workers' rights activism in Brazil and sex workers' rights activism in India.

Tania Kaiser is Senior Lecturer in Forced Migration Studies in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS University of London. She has degrees in Literature and Anthropology from the Universities of Bristol and Oxford. Her research focuses on forced migration in Africa, East and West Africa in particular, culture and society and internal conflict in Uganda and conflict in South Sudan. She has also been the programme convenor for the BA in Development Studies at SOAS.

Meera Sabaratnam is Senior Lecturer in International Relations. Her research interests are in the colonial and postcolonial dimensions of international relations, in both theory and practice. She has worked on questions of decolonisation, Eurocentrism, race and methodology in IR. She has applied these concepts to the analysis of international development aid, peacebuilding and statebuilding, most recently in her book Decolonising Intervention (2017). Her regional interests are in Southern Africa and the Indian Ocean region. Currently she is working on questions of race in IR theory and a postcolonial historiography of the First World War.

Facebook Event: Deconstructing Development Facebook Event

All welcome, no need to book but please do arrive early to be sure of a seat. Details of all events in the seminar series are provided below. The venue is wheelchair accessible. We look forward to seeing you there.

On behalf of the seminar organising committee,

Feyzi Ismail, Alfredo Saad-Filho, Jo Tomkinson, Patrick Norberg, Jay Lingham, Jai Bhatia and Jan Michalko