Deconstructing Development Discourse – SOAS, 15 January

14th Jan 2019


Professor Andrea Cornwall (SOAS University of London) and Dr Tania Kaiser (SOAS University of London)

Deconstructing Development Discourse: Buzzwords and Fuzzwords Revisited

Tuesday, 15 January, 5-7PM

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building


Why should language matter to those who are doing development? Surely there are more urgent things to do than sit around mulling over semantics? But language does matter. Whether emptied of their original meaning, essentially vacuous or hotly contested, the language of development not only shapes our imagined worlds, but also justifies interventions in real people’s lives. If development buzzwords conceal ideological differences or sloppy thinking, then the process of constructive deconstruction makes it possible to re-examine what have become catch-all terms like civil society and poverty reduction, or bland aid-agency terms such as partnership or empowerment. Such engagement is far more than a matter of playing word games but involves how we think of development itself.

Andrea Cornwall is a political anthropologist who specialises in the anthropology of democracy, citizen participation, participatory research, gender and sexuality. She has worked on topics ranging from understanding women’s perspectives on family planning, fertility and sexually transmitted infection in Nigeria and Zimbabwe, public engagement in UK regeneration programmes, the quality of democratic deliberation in new democratic spaces in Brazil, the use and abuse of participatory appraisal in Kenya, domestic workers’ rights activism in Brazil and sex workers’ rights activism in India.

Tania Kaiser is Senior Lecturer in Forced Migration Studies in the Department of Development Studies at SOAS University of London. She has degrees in Literature and Anthropology from the Universities of Bristol and Oxford. Her research focuses on forced migration in Africa, East and West Africa in particular, culture and society and internal conflict in Uganda and conflict in South Sudan. She has also been the programme convenor for the BA in Development Studies at SOAS.

Facebook Event: https://www.facebook.com/events/325032234761863/

All welcome, no need to book but please do arrive early to be sure of a seat. Details of all events in the seminar series are provided below. The venue is wheelchair accessible. We look forward to seeing you there.



Seminar Series, Term 2, 2018-19

Tuesdays, 5-7PM

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building

All welcome, no need to book

* 22 January *

Dr Tariq Jazeel (University College London)

Singularity: A Manifesto for Incomparable Geographies

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building


* 29 January *

Dr Emma Mawdsley (University of Cambridge)

South-South Development Cooperation 3.0? Changes in the Decade Ahead

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building


* 5 February *

Dr Cédric Durand (University of Paris 13 and EHESS, France)

Fictitious Capital in the 21st Century

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building


* 19 February *

Professor Etienne Balibar (University of Paris-Nanterre and Kingston University)

Exiles in the 21st Century: The New ‘Population Law’ of Absolute Capitalism

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building


* 26 February *

Dr Marcus Taylor (Queen’s University, Canada)

Climate Change and the ‘New Green Revolution’ in India

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building


* 5 March *

Professor Sylvia Walby (City, University of London)

Towards Zero Violence: Putting Gender into a Theory of Violence and Society

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building


* 12 March *

Dr Mwangi wa Gĩthĩnji (University of Massachusetts, Amherst, USA)

Agrarian Transition and Development in an Age of Globalised Inequality: Some Questions from Africa

Room: Djam Lecture Theatre (DLT), SOAS Main Building


Further details are available on the SOAS Development Studies Department website: https://www.soas.ac.uk/development/events/devstudseminars/