Accepted paper:

Queering development? The unsettling geographies of South-South Cooperation


Emma Mawdsley (University of Cambridge)

Paper short abstract:

This paper uses Queer Theory to explore South-South Cooperation, focussing on its transgressive implications; but also the (re)inscription of racialised, gendered and sexualised imageries and identities.

Paper long abstract:

This paper deploys queer theory as a way of approaching South-South Development Cooperation (SSDC). SSDC is profoundly unsettling the long-standing normative spatialities, imaginaries and identities (re)produced through the mainstream international development regime. The post-colonial order of who ‘does’ development to whom has been transgressed by countries that refuse (discursively at least) co-option into the hegemonic donor community and its long-standing taxonomies. Southern development partners are not just up-ending this order, but presenting themselves in fluid ways, enrolling different identities and attributes in different places and to different audiences. However, a queer perspective also reveals the (re)inscription of gendered, sexualised and racialized solidarities and hierarchies through the relationships, intimacies and practices of SSDC. Here, queer theory provides novel insights into the fracturing Eurocentrism of international development, while resisting an uncritical championing of SSDC as a post-political and benign alignment of shared Southern identities and interests. The paper concludes by examining the trend towards more masculinist performances and ‘fixity’ amongst key Southern development partners, with some diminishment of the fluid and collective languages and identities of recent years.

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