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Accepted Paper:

Bringing Depoliticisation Back in Development: What's New?  


Hasrul Hanif (University of Sheffield)

Paper short abstract:

The "depoliticisation" framework in a power analysis of development practices is not new but there are still some missing points. This paper aims to bring back depoliticisation as an overarching framework in understanding power relations in development in the Global South.

Paper long abstract:

Since James Ferguson published his seminal work on the anti-politics in development (1990), a considerable amount of literature focusing on anti-politics tendencies of development practices in the Global South have been published with emphasising the rise of technocratic governance of civil society, increase attention on social capital and disregard the political institutions that some consider being old-fashioned. It also confirms the continuities of anti-politics tendencies by denying any political pluralism and antagonism (Jayasuriya, 2006, p. 235; Abrahamsen, 2000). However, such a body of literature does not review responses to depoliticisation in development practice. The empirical studies show that there is a strong tendency to repoliticise public affairs in the midst of a neoliberal project which the excluded social groups reclaim a new space to claim their rights (Haslam & Heidrich, 2016; Nem Singh, 2012; Haarstad, 2012, p. 4). Political participation then becomes more complicated (Stokke & Oldfield, 2005, p. 133). Hence, a new analytical framework is required on the effect of the development practice and the extension of space of depoliticisation by considering dynamic processes in different policy sectors, different tiers of governance and temporal dimensions (cf. Fawcett et al., 2017, p. 7). Moreover, further exploration is required into the effect of the institutionalisation of technocratic governance on civil society, specifically, the extent to which it affects technocratic rationality within the workings of civil society associations as well as the popular participation. The identification of depoliticisation becomes more challenging and open to more empirical investigations with a new analytical framework.

Panel P53b
Rethinking Power in Development Practice: understanding 'local agency' II