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Accepted Paper:

Imagine alternative future(s) of the Belgian development cooperation. Mapping interpretations of decolonisation in development aid  
Adriana Moreno Cely (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) Maria Mancilla Garcia (Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB)) Carla Vitantonio (CARE IHSA) Hichem Sahli (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) Dirk Lafaut (VUB) Tom Vanwing (Vrije Universiteit Brussel) Cesar Escobar Kintu Mugenyi Justice (Mountains of the Moon University) NATHALIE NAKABANDA (Université catholique de Bukavu et Institut Supérieur de développement durable à Bukavu)

Paper short abstract:

The research offers a social cartography mapping multiple understandings and perspectives from developmental actors connected to the Belgium development cooperation sector and the proposed possible pathways to go beyond the mainstream development cooperation narratives.

Paper long abstract:

Social movements such as "Black Life Matters" called for an urgent need to break with the modernity/coloniality violences and decolonise development aid practices. In response, the Belgian development cooperation was looking for alternative pathways for a decolonial future. This study supported these efforts by mapping the multiple understandings, perceptions and visions of the different actors involved in the Belgian Development Cooperation. Around 200 people participated in the research through participatory workshops and interviews. Participants included decision-makers, practitioners and academics connected to the Belgium development cooperation sector. Despite the challenges of leaving the colonial matrix, the participants dared to imagine other futures for Belgian development cooperation. These imaginaries are so diverse that they show the need to accept policy heterodoxy and dare to explore non-traditional pathways. The cartography identified three main discourses: a) softening power imbalances as strategies for decolonising development aid, b) a call for a power shift and c) building new vocabularies and ways of weaving relationships between the planet's inhabitants to move toward a PaCt of "humble togetherness". The study recognises that decolonisation has become a comfortable buzzword for the aid sector. So, there is a risk of being co-opted and diluted into mainstream narratives by development policies and programs depoliticising communities' struggles to support development as usual and preserve the status quo. Thus this research is an invitation to be profoundly vigilant about our complicities and not turn decolonisation into a metaphor; instead, dare to dream of alternative futures in which many worlds can fit.

Panel P44
Decolonial perspectives on connection and agency for development in the Anthropocene
  Session 1 Thursday 29 June, 2023, -