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CGD Webinar Series - Decolonisation and Development

CGD Annual Lectures
Wednesday 13 October 2021, 13:00 BST
Zoom (please register to get the link)

Recent development discourse has emphasised the need to question the legacies of coloniality within global development practices if global inequalities are to be curtailed. This webinar  brings onboard panellists from all facets of development in praxis and scholarship to explore decoloniality within global development research and practice. The key question for the session is “What is development? And whose idea of development counts or matters?” Panellists will reflect on their work and how they approach decolonisation within global development. This will be followed by a moderated Q&A session and a public discussion. Please register your interest in participating here

Chairs:  Keya Khandaker and Dr Lata Narayanaswamy


  1. Prof Dr Aram Ziai

Aram Ziai is head of the Department of Development Policy and Postcolonial Studies, which was created in 2014 as a Heisenberg Professorship of the German Research Foundation. His main research interests lie in the areas of development theory and policy, post-colonial and post-development approaches, and global economic governance.

2. Dr. Julia Schöneberg

Julia is a post-doc on the DFG-funded project 'Towards a Reinvention of Development Theory: Theorizing Post-Development'. She examines the various theoretical foundations of post-development. Julia analyzes the (asymmetrical) structures in which (academic) knowledge is produced, and researches and critically questions the conditions under which scientists can contribute to transformative and pluriversal processes of knowledge production, dissemination and application. Julia is co-founder of , a scientific-activist collective with the aim of creating spaces for inclusive, interdisciplinary and alternative approaches, especially in the context of 'development'.

3. Ruth Sylvester 

My PhD examines hidden water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) inequalities in the UK. This topic developed out of a process of decolonising my own perspectives on development and academia. The WASH community of practice can be broadly characterised as a sub-sector of international development and, in step with other development sectors, it is beginning to openly engage with the need for decolonising. This acknowledgement of pervasive neo-colonial structures can be largely attributed to the influence of the BLM movement, as these critiques have existed for decades but have never before entered the mainstream. A growing trend in WASH research is that of Global North researchers focusing on WASH inequalities within their own context. Although often not explicitly stated, this appears to be a decolonising move. An influential WASH research group based in the US recently made clear that their work was part of the necessary de-centring of Global North knowledges and re-centring of Global South knowledges. I am focusing my research on the UK, as it is where I am from and where my university is located. I question how the experience of water poverty is presented by UK policymakers. I aim to understand the racialized and gendered elements of this experience. I hope that my work will also produce insight on decolonising WASH and actively challenge the systems that reproduce racialized inequality in the UK and globally.