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Colonial and Post-Colonial Development

Lecture powerpoint (27 Feb 2017)


This week looks at this history of international aid and development. ‘Development’ has been a defining feature of international relations since the end of the Second World War, as various states and actors have promoted forms of economic and political development in the global South. The lecture this week will provide an introduction to the history of development, from colonial projects at the start of the Twentieth Century, through Cold War ‘technical assistance’ programmes, to neoliberal approaches towards the close of the century.

The seminar reading for this week focuses on specific aspects or periods of this history of development: colonial origins (Rist, chapter 3), post-1945 development in the Cold War (Jahanbani), the rise and fall of the ‘third world’ in the 1970s (Rist, chapter 9), and the ‘lost decade’ of the 1980s (Jolly et al.).

Through the lecture and seminar, we will approach and examine development not as a straightforward ‘social good’, but as a historically contingent, politically- and ideologically-driven project, which has a complex relationship with other major political processes such as imperialism, colonialism, modernization, and globalization.


Seminar Questions

1. How important was the colonial period in determing the direction and character of international development?

2. How did the Cold War shape discourses and practices of development aid?

3. How did a shift to neoliberal governance in the 1970s and 1980s impact on development aid?

4. Does aid work?


Seminar Reading

Gilbert Rist, The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith (3rd edition, Zed, 2008), chapter 3 (‘The Making of a World System’), pp.47-68.

Sheyda Jahanbani, ‘One Global War on Poverty: The Johnson Administration Fights Poverty at Home and Abroad, 1964-1968’, in Francis J. Gavin and Mark Atwood Lawrence (eds.), Beyond the Cold War: Lyndon Johnson and the New Global Challenges of the 1960s (Oxford University Press, 2014), pp.97-117.

Gilbert Rist, The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith (3rd edition, Zed, 2008), chapter 9 (‘The Triumph of Third-Worldism’), pp.140-170.

Richard Jolly, Louis Emmerij, Dharam Ghai, and Frédéric Lapeyre, UN Contributions to Development Thinking and Practice (Indiana University Press, 2004), chapter 6 (‘The 1980s: Losing Control and Marginalizing the Poorest’), pp.138-168.


Further Reading

Nick Cullather, The Hungry World: America's Cold War Battle against Poverty in Asia (Harvard University Press, 2010).

Nick Cullather, ‘Development? It's History’, Diplomatic History, 24:4 (2000), pp.641-653.

James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine: “Development,” Depoliticization, and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho (University of Minnesota Press, 1990).

Joseph Morgan Hodge, Triumph of the Expert: Agrarian Doctrines of Development and the Legacies of British Colonialism (Ohio University Press, 2007).

Joseph Morgan Hodge, ‘Writing the History of Development (Part 1: The First Wave)’, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development, 6:3 (Winter 2015): 429-463.

Joseph Morgan Hodge, ‘Writing the History of Development (Part 2: Longer, Deeper, Wider)’, Humanity: An International Journal of Human Rights, Humanitarianism and Development, 7:1 (Spring 2016).

Firoze Manji and Carl O'Coill, ‘The Missionary Position: NGOs and development in Africa’, International Affairs, 78:3 (2002, 567-583).

Gilbert Rist, The History of Development: From Western Origins to Global Faith (3rd edition, Zed, 2008).

Amy L.S. Staples. The Birth of Development: How the World Bank, Food and Agriculture Organisation, and World Health Organisation Changed the World, 1945-65 (Kent State University Press, 2006).

Erik Thorbecke, ‘The evolution of the development doctrine and the role of foreign aid, 1950–2000’, in Finn Tarp (ed.), Foreign Aid and Development: Lessons Learnt and Directions for the Future (Routledge, 2000), pp.12-35.

David Webster, ‘Development Advisors in a Time of Cold War and Decolonization: The United Nations Technical Assistance Administration, 1950–59’, Journal of Global History, 6:2 (2011), pp.249-272.