Research Items (19)
- Jul 2018
This essay suggests that a focus on the transnational and transcultural dimensions of twentieth-century interwar anticolonial movements in Africa creates opportunities to decolonize a historiographical tendency to foreground certain elitist accounts of the period that continue to pervade contemporary anticolonial scholarship. The essay explores the case of Harry Thuku, an early Kenyan nationalist and pan-Africanist active in Kenya Colony in the early 1920s, and subsequently imprisoned and exiled by the British colonial administration. Contemporaneous accounts largely painted Thuku as an insignificant lone agitator, being manipulated by East African Asian organizations, whilst more contemporary scholarship continues to depict him and his movement in strictly methodologically nationalist terms. This essay presents evidence to suggest Thuku’s actions were constituted across domestic cultural and class boundaries, as well as transnational anticolonial and pan-African networks. As such, the essay constructs an account of transcultural, transnational anticolonial solidarities that have thus far largely been confined to analyses of more obviously globally networked interwar spaces (i.e. imperial metropoles, West Africa, South Africa, and Ethiopia) and which thus unwittingly risk perpetuating a colonial historiography of the period.
- Oct 2017
This article reconsiders the political thought and practice of Hastings Banda, prime minister and then president of Malawi from 1963 to 1994. Often side-lined and maligned in considerations of post-colonial African leaders for being an authoritarian comprador in service to western interests, the article suggests that Banda’s life and practice illustrates a complex interplay between two types of conservatism: a more radical anti-colonial conservatism, and a more reactionary post-colonial conservatism. This approach has important implications for how we consider independence-era African political leadership more generally, and for understanding contemporary public protest in Malawi, and more broadly. Mainstream scholarly interpretations of anti-government protests in Malawi in July 2011 presented them as a response to an uninterrupted continuum of authoritarianism in the country stretching back to Banda, playing on ideas of innate African autocratic tendencies. This article, however, argues that such comparisons result in an ahistorical consideration of post-colonial Malawi, leading to analyses that mistakenly suggest that protests in Malawi, as in other African countries in recent years, are the result of liberal rights claims, as opposed to a nostalgic and markedly different reclamation of the cultural, national and economic promises of African independence.
In this article, we argue that whilst international studies broadly construed has benefitted in recent years from a turn to theories of affect, a notable absentee in this regard has been critical accounts of international development. We suggest that theories of affect have much to contribute to an understanding of a set of international policies and practices that seek to remake individual and collective capacities to act in the pursuit of 'development'. The article therefore sets out to briefly establish a genealogy of affect written through post-Second World War international development policies, before laying out three areas where contemporary international development policy, in the form of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, manifests most notably. These three areas are (i) Partnership; (ii) Capacity-Building, and (iii) Big Data. We provide evidence to illustrate how affect works to create embodied resonances and intensities that circulate socially between and through bodies and create new intimate connections, imaginations, and certain kinds of citizens, and in so doing creates not only political enclosures, but also opportunities to produce 'counter-affects' and other-form ways of being and living.
The United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight time-bound targets aiming, amongst other issues, to reduce extreme poverty, address school enrollment and the prevalence of HIV/AIDS, expire in September 2015. World leaders, civil society organisations, philanthropists, and the private sector are all frantically negotiating and consulting over what will follow them. This special forum in Globalizations is dedicated to questions which explore the politics of the MDGs, and the subsequent discussions which are framing their successor development framework, the Sustainable Development Goals. Most research into the MDGs tends to be technocratic, addressing issues of how we might achieve the goals better, faster, and more efficiently. Questions of what kinds of societies might be created by the achievement of the goals, and what alternative societies people living in poverty might wish to build for themselves tend to get left aside, as do questions which address the fundamentally capitalocentric logics which underpin the MDGs. This special forum introduction briefly explores some of these issues before introducing the contributors, who include leading scholars on the critical politics and international political economy of international development, such as Suzan Ilcan, Philip McMichael, Kathleen Sexsmith, Carl Death, Japhy Wilson, Anita Lacey, Maia Green, and Heloise Weber.
The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been critiqued as an ambitious project which sought to produce entrepreneurial neo-liberal subjects. From this perspective, the opportunities and dangers of the post-2015 debates acquire a more urgent importance than the cynical dismissal of the MDGs as ‘minimum development goals’. This article identifies two potentially radical shifts in development discourse offered by the proposals for global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): first, that they might be genuinely global and hence destabilise long-standing divisions between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ societies; and second, that they might challenge existing growth paths of resource-intensive development. Two scenarios are offered through which these potential shifts are manifesting: first, a status-quo and growth-orientated outcome to the post-2015 agenda, and second, a more radical revisioning of development as a transformative project of global sustainability. However, even such an apparently attractive prospect as the latter has potential dangers, whether or not it is possible, which this article highlights. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations over the post-2015 SDGs, therefore, the process can tell us something about the opportunities and limits of processes of reform. The stakes could not be higher: whether a renewed and reshaped development project can drive future developmental governmentalities in radically new directions.
- Jul 2014
When Joyce Banda became Malawi's president in 2012, she was welcomed by the international community as an antidote to the increasingly erratic and autocratic behaviour of her unexpectedly deceased predecessor Bingu wa Mutharika. Banda appeared to be the product of the twin drivers of a ‘rising’ Africa; namely a newly empowered donor-supported civil society on the one hand, and a Western-oriented political elite committed to transparency and good governance on the other. Based on several field trips to Malawi over the past five years, this article seeks to problematise the degree to which Joyce Banda and Malawi's civil society organisations represented a double transition from the more patrimonial form of politics which had dominated the political and civil society sectors throughout Malawi's postcolonial era. Although prepared prior to recent corruption scandals which have engulfed the Banda government in the run-up to elections in May 2014, this article sets the context for understanding these cases as a product of Malawi's political economy and uneven insertion into the global economy.
- Jan 2014
Strong states and strong civil societies are now increasingly hailed as the twin drivers of a ‘rising Africa’. Current attempts to support growth and democracy are part of a longer history of promoting projects of disciplinary, regulatory and liberal rule and values beyond ‘the West’. Yet this is not simply Western domination of a passive continent. Such an interpretation misses out on the complexities and nuances of the politics of state-building and civil society promotion, and the central role of African agency. Drawing upon critical theory, including postcolonial and governmentality approaches, this book interrogates international practices of state-building and civil society support in Africa. It seeks to develop a theoretically informed critical approach to discourses and interventions such as those associated with broadly ‘Western’ initiatives in Africa. In doing so, the book highlights the power relations, inequalities, coercion and violence that are deeply implicated within contemporary international interventions on the African continent. Providing a range of empirical cases and theoretical approaches, the chapters are united by their critical treatment of political dynamics in Africa. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of African politics, development studies, postcolonial theory, International Relations, international political economy and peacekeeping/making. © 2014 selection and editorial matter, Clive Gabay and Carl Death.
- Jan 2013
Through reviewing the UK Coalition Government’s reconfiguration of the security–development nexus, this paper tracks a move away from the ‘securitisation of development’, toward the ‘developmentisation of security’. It demonstrates how discourses of capacity building from the bottom-up have replaced the assertions of global cosmopolitanism of the Blair years. We argue that the Coalition is attempting to portray this as a ‘post-interventionist’ approach, in an attempt to resolve the crisis of faith in legal accountability, moral responsibility and political responsibility inherited from the previous administration, and respond to their legacy of international interventions. Rather than emphasise the agency of liberators, the UK Coalition therefore now cultivates the image of a chaotic world, populated by vulnerable subjects in need of empowerment, where instrumental interventions are less certain. Thus, reconfiguring the intervention/non-intervention binary, more recent engagements in Libya, Afghanistan and the Arab Spring have been framed by and retreated into facilitating the resilience of non-Western subjects.
- Aug 2012
Donor governments have been accused of not doing enough to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (mdgs), while the mdgs have been accused from other quarters of not doing enough for development. The former position takes the mdgs as an unquestionable good, while the latter posits them as a Western ruse for the sedimentation of core–periphery relations. This paper transcends this debate, identifying in the goals a logic of ambitious social, cultural and spatial engineering. Inspired by Foucauldian development anthropology, the paper highlights three themes implicit in mdg texts, requiring biopolitical interventions on bodies, societies and spaces, namely risk, sex, gender and family; Homo Economicus; and the city. The paper concludes with a reflection on the likelihood of resistance to such interventions.
- Jan 2012
The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) is world's largest civil society movement fighting against poverty and inequality, incorporating over 100 affiliated country-level coalitions. It has become a significant global actor and its annual days of mobilisation now attract over 175 million people around the world. This book seeks to explore GCAP's power and its embodiment of emancipatory change. It develops a framework that assesses its external power as an actor by exploring how power works in it, and the relationship between the two. Gabay demonstrates that GCAP, and actors like it, may transcend some of the obstructions they face in navigating and proposing alternatives to dominant codes and practices of neo-liberal globalisation. Thematically, the book explores GCAP's constitutive powers along three axes: hegemony, inclusion and legitimacy. It draws on a wide range of social and political theory, including Liberalism, Anarchism and postcolonial theory and featuring case studies on Malawi and India. This book will be of interest to students and scholars of international relations, international development, global governance, social movements and civil society.
- Aug 2011
This article investigates a significant actor within global civil society: the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP). GCAP claims to be the world's largest civil society alliance, and was the umbrella coalition behind the 2005 Make Poverty History campaign, as well as the annual Stand Up against Poverty mobilisations. GCAP is constituted by autonomous non-governmental organisation coalitions in over 100 countries. Utilising an actor-network approach, the article finds that while GCAP at a global level seeks to mobilise its members into radical structural critiques of global poverty, other discursive and ontological arrangements exist within the national coalitions. Drawing on interviews, group observation and documentary analysis with the GCAP national coalition in Malawi, the article explores the power of the UN Millennium Development Goals to construct and monitor consenting subjects where notions of social justice become discursively articulated with key neo-liberal tenets regarding the individualisation and responsibilisation of poverty. Este artículo investiga a un actor importante dentro de la sociedad civil global: el ‘Llamado global a la acción contra la pobreza’ (GCAP, por sus siglas en inglés). La GCAP se declara como la mayor alianza de la sociedad civil del mundo, y fue la red de la coalición que actuó en representación de la campaña ‘Hagamos que la pobreza pase a la historia’ en el 2005 y también en las movilizaciones anuales de la campaña ‘Levántate contra la pobreza’. La GCAP está constituida por coaliciones de organizaciones no gubernamentales autónomas en más de 100 países. Con un enfoque en la red social como actor, el artículo encuentra que mientras la GCAP a un nivel global, busca movilizar a sus miembros dentro de críticas estructuras radicales sobre la pobreza global, existen otros acuerdos discursivos y ontológicos dentro de las coaliciones nacionales. Con base en entrevistas, observación de grupos y análisis de documentales con la coalición nacional GCAP en Malawi, el artículo explora el poder de la campaña de los Objetivos de Desarrollo del Milenio de las Naciones Unidas para construir y monitorear temas acordes, en donde las nociones de justicia social se vuelvan discursivamente articuladas con dogmas neoliberales claves, con respecto a la individualización y responsabilidad de la pobreza. 本文研究全球公民社会中的一个重要行为者，即全球消除贫困联盟（GCAP）。全球消除贫困联盟声称是全球最大的公民社会联盟，并且是2005年“让贫困成为历史”运动以及每年一度“站起来反对贫困”大会背后的保护伞联盟。全球贫困联盟是由100多个国家的自治非政府组织联合组成的。 运用行为体—网络路径，本文发现，当全球层面上的全球消除贫困联盟寻求动员其成员加入对全球贫困激进的结构性批判时，其他的话语和本体论筹划则存在于国家联盟之内。利用对马拉维GCAP全国联盟的采访、团队观察和文档分析，本文探讨了联合国千年发展目标的构建和监督同意主体的力量，此处社会正义概念在话语上被新自由主义关于贫困的个人化和责任化的关键信条表达着。
- Jun 2010
- Rethinking the publicInnovations in research, theory and politics
This chapter takes as its focus global justice struggles and the possibility of progressive politics. Particularly, it focuses on the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), which, it suggests, comprises a multiplicity of public actors and objects. The contingent and unfixed qualities of any idea of an emerging global public produces problems of naming and categorising: the process of naming produces a premature fixity that fails to resolve the messiness of the publics who are summoned. The chapter also offers a stringent critique of the ‘unthinking globality’ that closes down any kind of relational and processual analysis.
- Jul 2009
The term ‘global civil society’ has taken on increasing significance within scholarly debate over the past decade. This paper seeks to understand transnational political agency via the study of a particular transnational actor, Oxfam. It argues that the various schools of thought surrounding the global civil society concept, in particular the prevailing liberal-cosmopolitan approach, are unable to conceptualise transnational political action in practice – due largely, in the case of liberal-cosmopolitanism, to a shared normative agenda. It also assesses the contribution of the literature on development and civil society to the analysis of groups such as Oxfam. In investigating Oxfam’s own perceptions of its context and the meanings of its agency, we discover an anti-political perspective, derived from an encounter between Oxfam’s long-standing commitment to liberal internationalism, and globalization discourse. The local or parochial nature of global civil society actors’ identities has not been sufficiently identified by existing scholarship.
This paper concerns itself with the values which make up what has been labelled “ethical cosmopolitanism”—that which entails a universal scope of ethical concern. Conceptions of this ethic have underpinned the development of a “global civil society” and associated humanitarian and activist campaigns. However, such cosmopolitan campaigns have illustrated the ways in which the dismissals of difference and importance of embeddedness have caused suffering to the supposed beneficiaries of such campaigns. This is because of the unrecognised power relations that exist between moral agents, which result in “unequal exchanges”, that is, the exchange of physical, material and mental resources from positions of unequal negotiating positions, driven by power differentials and hierarchy. A theory of the “equal exchange” is developed upon which to base alternative cosmopolitan practices. Such a theory is grounded in Anarchist thought, which, it is argued, provides the most stringent philosophical underpinning for such a cosmopolitan theory.