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Developing future development knowledge 
Hanna Nieber (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)
Susann Ludwig (University of Leipzig)
James Merron (University of Basel)
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Sociology (x) Decoloniality & Knowledge Production (y)
Philosophikum, S54
Friday 2 June, -
Time zone: Europe/Berlin

Short Abstract:

In this panel, we are suspicious about the nature of knowledge concerning development. How do we allow ourselves to be curious with and captured by the interests of our colleagues? How can we think collectively about development differently? And how, in general, do we develop collective thinking?

Long Abstract:

From our long-term friendships with astronomers and engineers in Africa, we have learned that development is of great interest to them. However, we, scholars from Europe, trained in African studies, hesitated to engage, because the current conceptualization of development follows an ethically problematic colonial logic of taking Europe as the blueprint of how to think about Africa. Its terms are already familiar to us, mapping the future of those in need of development onto the past of those who have presumably achieved development. As African Studies scholars, we dismiss this epistemological teleology inherent in "development" and seek ways to think futures in light of historical contingencies. Taking these concerns seriously, engaging with development becomes epistemologically and ethically impossible and radical silence (Macamo 2019) the only appropriate option, however, not a satisfying one. We cannot not engage; a humble epistemology is not based on the dismissal of an idea, which is meaningful to the individuals we engage with.

In this panel, we are suspicious about the nature of the knowledge concerning development. How can we allow ourselves to be "curious with" and "captured by" (Swanson 2020) the interests of our colleagues, namely, their interest in development? How can we think differently about development? And how do we develop collective thinking in the first place? In order to address these questions, we invite contributions that deal with development knowledge through empirical case studies.

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 2 June, 2023, -