Intellectuals and Activists Against the Rest of the World. Why (post-)Development?

Wednesday, 13 July 2016: 09:40
Location: Hörsaal III (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Dieter NEUBERT, University of Bayreuth, Germany
Since Escobar’s and others radical critic of the development concept the intellectual discussion of post-development is unbroken and united with the notion of post-colonialism. What started as a left-wing skepticism of modernity has now reached the core of sociological debate. Gurminder Bhambra’s book “Rethinking modernity: post-colonialism and the sociological imagination was an intensively debated topic at the Yokohama ISA conference. This debate merges with a radical critique of neo-liberalism by the anti-globalisation movement and its offspring such as the occupy movement. This critical debate (e.g. Rodrguez et al.: Decolonizing European Sociology) creates the impression that the narrative of development is at best part of the history of science; or even more critical it is the root of all evil. At the same time the World Bank, the IMF, UN, numerous NGOs and mainstream economists do not stop to praise development and growth as the panacea for the problems of the Global South. Interestingly large parts of the population in the Global South pin their hopes still on development, especially in Africa but also in the poorer parts of Asia. Even those groups who criticize neo-liberalism and capitalism like the left-wing movements in Venezuela or Bolivia present a socialist version of development. How is it possible that the intellectual debate that claims political responsibility and normative leadership is so far away from popular thinking? And how is it possible that the large scientific staff of World Bank, IMF and UN widely ignores the critique of the development concept and of neo-liberalism? Is there a chance to re-link these separated strands of scholarly thinking in a productive way? What kind of macroscopic political, economic and social changes facilitated this divergence of scholarly thinking?