SOAS University of London

Department of Development Studies

Popular Representations of Development: Creating Global Alliances or Reproducing Inequalities?

Professor Uma Kothari (School of Environment, Education and Development, University of Manchester, UK)

Date: 26 January 2016Time: 5:00 PM

Finishes: 26 January 2016Time: 7:00 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: G3

Type of Event: Seminar

Most people gain their knowledge about poverty and inequality and other development-related concerns from very public representations of the lives of other people in distant places. Indeed, since the 1980s there has been a vast proliferation of campaigns, charity adverts, musical movements, fair trade marketing, celebrity endorsements and media promotions to support international development. But do these popular representations of international development concerns and the diverse public spheres in which engagements with development take place have the potential to instil ideas of global interconnectedness, produce an ethos of care for distant suffering others and forge new kinds of global alliances? Or do popular, visual images and the increasing involvement of public figures, celebrities and the media reproduce global inequalities, obscure the structural realities of poverty and rather than forging a common humanity reinforce hierarchies between people and places? This lecture explores these issues through an analysis of historical and contemporary representations of international development and the use of popular, visual campaigns to strengthen global connections.

Professor Uma Kothari is a leading scholar of international development and global poverty. She has done extensive research on the theory, discourse and practice of international development, and on historical and contemporary transnational migration. She has several publications on these issues, including edited books, such as Development Theory and Practice (2002) and A Radical History of Development Studies (2005). In 2014, she was awarded the Busk Medal by the Royal Geographical Society for her contribution to the study of global development. She is currently Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies in the School of Environment and Development, University of Manchester.


Organiser: Professor Alfredo Saad Filho or Dr Feyzi Ismail

Contact email: or

Contact Tel: 020 7898 4504 or 020 7898 4723