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Annual Lecture 2013: Popular representations of development and the construction of a new common humanity?

CGD Annual Lectures
Tuesday 12 November 2013, 17:00 - 19:30

Professor Uma Kothari, University of Manchester

The Centre for Global Development had the pleasure of hearing Uma Kothari, Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies, from University of Manchester give annual lecture on 12 November 2013.

We were honoured to have Professor Kothari come to speak on Popular representations of development and the construction of a new common humanity.


Different kinds of global identities and commonalities are reflected and created through popular representations of development.  Indeed, most people gain their knowledge about poverty and inequality and other development concerns from very public representations of the lives of other people in distant places. However, although the academic study of development and its policy implementation is well established, less considered are these broader understandings that often shape development agendas and priorities.

Since the 1980s there has been a vast proliferation of campaigns, charity adverts, musical movements, fair trade marketing, celebrity endorsements and media promotions to support international development.  But do these popular representations of international development concerns (such as Living Below the Line, Make Poverty History and Live Aid) and the diverse public spheres in which engagements with development take place have the potential to instil ideas of global interconnectedness, create a common humanity, produce an ethos of care for distant suffering others and forge new kinds of global alliances between, say, Third World producers and western consumers? Or do popular visual images and the increasing involvement of public figures and the media reproduce global inequalities, obscure the structural realities of poverty and rather than forging a common humanity reinforce distances and hierarchies between people and places?

This lecture explores these issues through an analysis of historical and contemporary representations of international development.

Uma Kothari is Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies at University of Manchester. Her research focuses on critical analyses of histories, discourses and representations of international development as well as transnational migration and diasporas.