In Western academic spaces, more and more stakeholders are claiming commitments to ‘decolonisation’. Yet in environments shaped by rankings, impact factors, citation numbers and third-party funding figures, what claims to be decolonial scholarship can easily end up being as extractive and violent as the subject it is claiming to confront. In this article, we reflect on attempts to decolonise both the discipline and practice of ‘development’, especially with regard to knowledge ‘production’ in this academic disciplinary space. We are doing this from a particular situatedness that is itself contradictory, as we are both facilitators of an EU-funded network focused on ‘Decolonising Development’ and of Convivial Thinking, a non-institutional, transnational web-based collective. We argue that imperial forms of knowing and making sense of the world are deeply entrenched in the structures of higher education, both shaping and limiting the ways in which what we call ‘development’ is researched, taught and practised. By reflecting on instances of academic activism and institutional pushback in both aforementioned networks, we show how institutional violence limits scholarly imaginations in ways that make sure academic or dominant knowledge structures are not radically challenged, thereby making claims of decolonisation purely performative. Despite this, we also point to concrete openings in both networks where undoing the entanglements of decolonising narratives, ‘development’ and the imperatives of scholarship – and thereby dismantling the master’s house that sustains it – seems within reach.
Russia’s open military aggression against Ukraine is a matter of agentic misrecognition rather than of classic rationalist considerations. Through the war in Ukraine, Russia exercises neglected agency and tries to reverse the feeling of marginalisation, irrelevance and status degradation in world politics. Russia’s war in Ukraine allows the current Russian leadership to escape from the stigma of an impotent power and to stabilise its identity as an important one, independent of Western norms and rules. Looking at Russia’s revisionism from the perspective of agentic misrecognition has some advantages. First, it helps in filling gaps that conventional interpretations and explanations of the war, found prominently in both public and academic discourses, leave open. These are problematic because they are too entrenched in positivist thinking and construct the world along essentialist concepts. Second, it allows room to understand the war as the result of a contingent process. In this process, it is not only the agency expectations of Russia’s leadership that play an important role but also the relational dynamics between Russia and the West and their impact on the further transformation of Russian identity constructions and self-descriptions.
This panel discussion session explores some of the central dimensions of the Crisis in the Anthropocene that constitute global social challenges in the context of development studies. The conference theme highlighted the profound human impact on our blue-green-brown planet, that is already breaching planetary boundaries and pushing us beyond the roughly 1.5°C tipping point. This threatens liveability and sustainability in many localities and regions and may well rapidly be ‘off the scale’ of imaginability and survivability. Inevitably, as mounting empirical evidence and increasingly clear projections by the IPCC and other authoritative bodies show, these impacts are unevenly spread, both socially and spatially, both now and over the coming decades. The urgency of appropriate action is undeniable and we already know many dimensions of the required adaptations and transformations. Yet progress mostly remains too slow. These challenges are vital to the development studies community – heterogenous as it is – with our concerns for tackling poverty, inequality, deprivation and environmental degradation globally and locally.
Hence this symposium asks what the crisis means for development theory, policy and practice and what development studies can and should be contributing to – and, indeed, whether it is capable of – addressing some key dimensions that warrant greater attention.
This article investigates international and national regulation of the recent foray by inclusive insurance firms into platform capitalism. It contributes to current debates on the governance of Fintech/insurtech in digital financial inclusion and platform capitalism. Drawing on Global Political Economy scholarship and John Commons’ concept of futurity, I argue that futurity drives the inclusive insurance market mediated by insurtech platforms. This process is performed within the regulatory sandbox, a dedicated legal framework allowing private firms to test innovative products and business models in a small-scale and controlled environment. The article draws on the analysis of legal documents, semi-structured interviews with key international and national insurance supervisors as well as participant observation in online conferences. The analysis offers empirical insights into the complexities of regulatory institutions to deepen our understanding of the global expansion of platform capitalism in inclusive insurance.
A growing body of research recognizes the impact of gender on social movement activity. Yet, far less attention has focused on the deployment of repressive methods in a gendered manner. The study contributes to comparative politics literature by proposing a typology of repression. At the start of mass mobilization, state authorities tend to invoke patriarchal norms to ridicule and stigmatize activists. Next, the coercive apparatus targets protesters through the use of psychological intimidation, physical violence, and sexual violence, as well as legal and economic repression. At the end of protests, the police resort to debasement and dehumanization of jailed protesters in a gendered manner. Drawing on the case of Belarus, one of the most restrictive political regimes in Europe, the study illustrates how repressive methods are gendered throughout different phases of mass mobilization. The study seeks to expand our understanding of various ways in which individuals are subject to repression.
This article investigates refugees’ labour to gain inclusion within the ‘host’ community, drawing on interviews with male Afghan former interpreters employed by Western armies. It makes an empirical contribution by centring them as active agents rather than as passive tropes in the racialised and gendered discourses of the ‘War on Terror’ and Western migration policies. It offers a synthesis between concepts from three fields: migration as translation, migrant masculinities and the battleground of conditional inclusion. By focusing on migrants’ self-translations in dialogue with translations of their bodies and stories by host-country institutions, I trace three strategies: insertion, subversion and exemption. While Afghan interpreters largely fail to be recognised as needing protection from harm, their insertion and subversion of discourses of protection based on service are more successful. Finally, they counter their interpellation as dangerous bodies with a strategy of exemption that can be momentarily successful but remains ultimately precarious.
Drawing on the experience of editing this special issue, I propose a method for developing the early stages of social policy interventions requiring cooperation, based on two phenomena foundational to approaching this challenge. I recommend that the first stage is methodological – the application of behavioural game theory – and that the second is analysis of a psychological process – the motivations of those involved. A potential third step is use of a toolbox of factors known to encourage cooperation that I discussed in my introductory article for the issue. Three further processes are important for social dilemma policy development: conditional cooperation, trust and feedback. I go on to discuss: the contrasting properties of selfish and altruistic motives for cooperating, particularly in terms of their sensitivity to influence; the long-term prospects for altruistically motivated cooperation; and ethical aspects of tackling societal dilemmas through bottom-up and top-down agents for change. Finally, I consider the current state of the relationship between behavioural science and social policy.