Course Outline

This course provides a critical debate of the history, politics and the academic discourse of recent development politics and practice. Development is a major framework for globalization on several levels: questions of economic growth, poverty and inequality are framed in terms of development and international relations being labelled and perceived in terms of development aid and cooperation. Development is no longer merely in the domain of the state, the neoliberal shift has led to the rise of national and international agencies which engage in ‘development’, both in the "Third World", as well as in the west and postsocialist countries. Recently, however, faith in development and progress has been severely shaken by the environmental crisis, the failure of development programs, and the continuously growing gap between rich and poor. At the same time, the geographic distinction between the ‘developed’ and the ‘developing’ has become increasingly obsolete. The urban centers in the world ‘formerly known as the third’ form hybrid spaces where ‘core’ and ‘periphery’ are intricately intertwined, where ‘developed’ and ‘underdeveloped’ coexist.

Course Content

As outlined, this course will discuss the major theories and approaches in the anthropological study of development, and will take a specific look at rural-urban relations in the developing world. The intention is to critically review the history of development theory, with a special attention to the political context and content of each model, alongside anthropological models of culture change.  The course will continue by looking at the relation between anthropology and the development machine, and trace the paradigm shifts in development models. The debate will focus on the question if is to draw a line between development cooperation and intervention. A special focus will lie on south-south alliances, which claims to provide development from within. The texts will also provide a methodological toolbox to analyse neo-colonial practice. We will take a special look at south-south alliances and will taste some old wine in new bottles. The third part looks at the anthropological study of processes of urbanization: We will investigate the impact of cities on rural livelihoods, look at informal economies in the shadow of banking towers, and eventually scrutinize the role of cities as the engines in a global development machine.