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This roundtable brings together researchers and practitioners to discuss the nexus of decolonisation, development and faith. It explores the contribution, limitations and complicity of faith actors and researchers in the development/aid sector from a decolonised and anti-racist perspective.
This research/practice roundtable focuses on the nexus of decolonisation, development and faith. Debates on anti-racist and decolonised approaches amongst development/humanitarian researchers and practitioners acknowledge that local communities are central agents in their own liberation, yet they continue to be marginalised in decision-making and resource allocation by large parts of the international aid/development sector. The majority of people worldwide identify with a faith. The role of faith is often particularly strong in the 'Global South'. Local capacities, social capital, leadership, expertise, networks and service provision are often faith-based. Ignoring the contribution of faith in development/aid devalues pivotal dimensions of people's lived experiences and diminishes their sources of power, legitimacy, accountability and resilience. An inability to speak authentically as faith actors contributes to the erasure of non-white cultures and non-Western faiths. Yet faith actors are not immune from anti-racist and decolonial critique, and often have complex and contested histories that involve colonialism, missionaries, and conversions. Faith communities have a mixed record when it comes to challenging racism and other forms of systemic discrimination. Faith-based organisations perpetuate the same white supremacist culture and racist and (neo)colonial development and faith legacies as the broader aid/development sector, by failing to acknowledge colonial legacies, neo-colonial practices, the dominance of Western theological constructs, complicity in broader racist structures, and hierarchical power dynamics. Research on religion and development has not sufficiently contended with these concepts, if at all. This panel aims to give a higher profile to this much needed debate.
Anupama Ranawana (Christian Aid University of St Andrews)
Justin Thacker (Church Action for Tax Justice)