Conference Program

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Session Overview - All times EDT

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Date: Friday, 04/June/2021
10:00am - 11:30am5.1.1: Transnational solidarities: ICT, Friendship and Diasporas
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: Larry Swatuk
Technical chair: valerie charest
Room 1 

Engaging in Foreigner Friendships: Learning English and more outside the classroom in rural Vietnam

Georgina Alonso1, Hiếu Thảo Nguyễn2

1University of Ottawa, Canada; 2Tra Vinh University, Vietnam

In recent decades, Vietnam has structured itself to be more open to international integration, which has encouraged increasing numbers of foreigners from the Global North and elsewhere to spend time working, volunteering or researching in Vietnam. Vietnam has also been developing a national strategy for encouraging English-language learning in line with economic growth plans that aim to move the country into upper middle-income status by 2035. This paper seeks to understand how friendships between English-speaking Global North foreigners on temporary placements abroad (volunteers, workers and researchers) and Vietnamese students studying English become entangled with national policy goals, personal and professional development goals, and the social status of English-language learners in rural Vietnam. Through a case study at Tra Vinh University in the Mekong Delta involving a survey and qualitative interviews with Vietnamese students, we unpack how Vietnamese students who are motivated to improve their English-language skills perceive the presence of English-speaking foreigners in their community and how the dynamics of friendship-seeking unfold. While much has been written about intercultural interactions based on temporary placements of Global North participants in Global South communities around the world, many studies have centred on the Global North participant’s identity, motivations, privilege, ethics, and/or impact. We chose to add to this literature by focusing principally on the underexplored agency of the recipient community in pursuing or engaging in intercultural friendships, even when these community members are not directly involved in the work or projects of the foreigners in their communities. We also seek to understand how the presence of Global North foreigners is perceived more broadly, the degrees of genuineness of friendship, and what benefits (and consequences) are gained by members of the recipient community through these friendships, especially in terms of English-language skill development.

Decolonization through Diaspora: Development Initiatives from the Second-Generation of the Sri Lankan Tamil Diaspora in Canada

Akalya Atputharajah

University of Ottawa, Canada

As the decolonization of development has emerged as an increasingly important agenda, so has the reconsideration of various actors and their roles in the development sphere. Diasporas have long been considered important bridges between the Global North and South, for reasons such as their knowledge of languages, understandings of culture, interpersonal networks and more. However, they also have the potential to engage in processes such as the decolonization and localization of development, due to their multiple, overlapping positionalities. In fact, one way that some of the complexities of decolonizing development can be explored is through second-generation diasporas’ experiences with their initiatives to help people in their countries of ethnic origin. Through the lens of Bourdieu’s social fields, an examination of the space which spans the country of a diaspora’s ethnic origin and their country of settlement can help to uncover the power dynamics which influence diasporic members’ ideas about their own identities, and how those ideas impact their beliefs about their roles in development as well as the decisions they make to exert influence back onto their social fields through development initiatives. Using in-depth interviews with second generation members of the Sri Lankan Tamil diaspora in Canada, this paper explores the development initiatives from this group and how their ideas about their own identities impact and are impacted by their development experiences. This paper finds that that second-generation members of this diaspora recognize that their Canadian upbringings have influenced some of their ways of knowing, such as their understandings of development, but that their initiatives also help to decolonize development in ways such as fostering inclusion in the Canadian development sphere, promoting localization, and tackling racism in development.

The Role of ICTs and Mobile Money in Somalia’s Development Ecosystem

Mohamed Elmi

Ryerson University, Canada

Mobile money is rapidly transforming various sectors and economies worldwide. Somalia is one country that has been transformed by emergence of mobile money. In 2017, the World Bank estimated that 73% of the Somali population over the age of 16 use mobile money services. At the same time, Somalia relies heavily on the remittances to pay for children’s education, social services and provides an investment funds for small businesses. The United Nations estimates that close to 40% of families in the country are dependent on the $1.3 billion remittances per year. Accordingly, remittances companies account for a large segment of the financial sector in Somalia. And yet, both the remittance and mobile money systems function in spite of a lack of a traditional financial system. Mobile money and the underlying technology is at the heart of the supports the daily existence of millions of Somalis. How this system functions and its role as the economic backbone of the country is little understood. Thus, the aim this paper is to analyze the crucial role served by mobile money in the delivery of the billions of remittance dollars into the country. This study is guided by the main question: What role does mobile money and the Somali diaspora in the Greater Toronto Area, through the remittance system, play in Somalia’s development ecosystem?

In order to answer this question, we began this study by setting a baseline understanding of the Somali population in Canada and Greater Toronto Area (GTA). Next, a survey of 143 Somalis who have remitted internationally in 2017 was conducted. Finally, small–sample interviews were conducted with some members of Somali Money Transfer Organizations (MTOs) in the GTA to understand the business climate and the type of mobile money applications used.

10:00am - 11:30am5.1.2: Baby or bathwater? Conflations of development and underdevelopment in historical and materialist perspective
Location: Room 2
Technical chair: Jessica Cadesky
Room 2 

Chair(s): Jacob Nerenberg (Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient, Germany)

Social scientists have largely embraced an understanding of development as a colonizing discourse that projects its modernist telos and marginalizes the world’s most vulnerable. While accurately describing features of many conflicts, the post-development orthodoxy has extended its reach at just the moment in history when some countries outside the ‘core’ show signs of finally ‘catching up’. Conceptualizations of development as inherently colonial break with traditions of thought that identified underdevelopment as a lasting effect of foreign domination—and as a process to be struggled against through (and after) decolonization. Challenging contemporary notions of decolonization that distance themselves from analysis of underdevelopment, this panel examines unfolding histories of contested efforts to ‘climb’ capitalist hierarchies of value. The panel links three theoretical insights. First, we understand underdevelopment as a process based on exploitation with features both spectacular (value seized from land and producers) and hidden (suppressed possibilities to increase the productivity of labour and foster internal circulation of the value it generates). Second, we identify so-called ‘dependent’ markets and ‘rentier’ states—where the circulation of value is based on claims to value captured from a given territory, rather than productive labour per se—as outcomes of impeded efforts to overcome underdevelopment. Third, we view the collapsing of differences between ‘development’ and ‘underdevelopment’ as a tactic of legitimation deployed to defuse opposition to rentier arrangements and the forms of exploitation they perpetuate. The papers will include case studies on issues such as the ascendance of ‘social protection’ policies in Venezuela and controversies over foreign direct investments in Indonesia, as well as global-scale assessments of the viability of national development as a form of resistance to imperialism.


Presentations of the Symposium


Distributive Development: The Highest Stage of Rentier Capitalism

Aaron Kappeler
University of Edinburgh

In his seminal study Unequal Development, Samir Amin argues that the loss of control over the deployment of social labour and production of value in peripheral capitalist settings is one of the key features of imperialist relations at a global scale. The mass of peasants and slum-dwellers living outside the wage relation are just one side of a dialectic of underdevelopment that equally embraces zones of ‘super-exploitation’ where commodified labour in oil camps, commercial plantations, and export enclaves facilitates the transfer of value to global centres. Payment for this dual extraction often takes the form of rent controlled by local elites invested in obscuring the unequal exchange inherent in these transactions. In this paper, I explore the case of Venezuela and distributive politics that hinder transition from a regime of rent capture as well as iterations of postcolonial theory that seek to obviate the category of ‘development,’ thereby rendering illegible forces that make these societies unstable.


Dependent Investments: The Submerged Politics of Bifurcated Development in Indonesia

Jacob Nerenberg
Leibniz-Zentrum Moderner Orient

In 2020, the issue of foreign investment became a hot-button topic in Indonesian politics. Mass protests and riots against legislation to facilitate foreign investment recalled previous moments when Indonesians had taken to the streets to oppose foreign economic hegemony. Activist communications and scholarly literature have narrated the issue of foreign investment as a matter of extractive capital using the banner of ‘development’ to justify raids on natural resources. Missing has been consideration of the fact that foreign investment in Indonesia predominates in value-added industry, while primary activities such as mining, timber, and agribusiness are largely controlled by domestic capital. This paper traces the historical construction of this bifurcation of investments to highlight the otherwise obscured dependence of labour productivity growth on both foreign capitalization and foreign-currency earnings from primary commodity exports. It analyzes a politically destabilizing manifestation of imperialism today: a type of inter-sectoral dependence, of development on underdevelopment.


Anti-Imperialist Development: Then and Now

Radhika Desai
University of Manitoba

Post-development discourse can only dismiss development as an imperialist project by overlooking what it always meant in national liberation movements and in the early post-war decades: autonomous national development. It was an inherently anti-imperialist project which is, perhaps, best articulated in Samir Amin’s concept of delinking. Based on my work on the geopolitical economy of capitalism driven forward by its uneven and combined development, which unites the work of the largely non-Marxist developmental state theorists with a Marxist understanding of the role of nations in a capitalist world, and on the inherently predatory and unstable character of the world dollar system, this paper will revisit the content and rationale of anti-imperialist development, particularly from a financial point of view. It will argue that, contrary to contemporary ‘globalization’ and ‘US Hegemony’ discourses that argue that such strategies are impossible today, they are not only possible but the only path to any broad-based and sustainable prosperity at a time when imperialism has, over the past many decades, taken on a more rentier form than ever.


Displacing Financial-rentier Imperialisms?

Pablo Idahosa
York University

Development, like capitalism and imperialism, demands to be historicized by periodising specificity. Development’s histories may have lost their way in the present by eliding and losing sight of the larger macro-processes through the distorting, but enabling lens of how the many national and local sites of intervention appear to be enacted. If development has always been about normatively and materially ameliorating the effects of the consequences of intervention, it has also always been to ensure that those subject to its behests are brought into the intersecting material and financial flows of imperialism. In looking at many parts of Africa, there have been continuities in the substantial appearance that the forms of imperial exploitation have taken—e.g. various forms of extractivism—or the class conduits through which they are enacted under or through the neo-liberalized states. However, if the intensity of these forms remain, they often do so through the reconfigured nexus of the financialization of global rentier capitalism: through the low tax regimes of extractivism and through the extraction of rentier income through tax havens.

10:00am - 11:30am5.1.3: Decolonization, anti-racism and adaptability in the development sector: An Exploration of three case studies - Workshop
Location: Room 3
Technical chair: Marie Gagné

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Room 3 

Chair: Lee-Anne Lavell, Judyannet Muchiri, Samantha Morton

Atlantic Council for International Cooperation, Canada

The Atlantic Council for International Cooperation (ACIC), a members-based organization whose members include post-secondary institutions and CSOs, invites practitioners, academics, and individuals to participate in a World Café to explore the possibilities and challenges of transformative “development” work with an aim to incite conversation and solicit feedback on three of ACIC’s programmatic initiatives.

In taking seriously what decolonization, anti-racism, and justice work requires of individuals and institutions, we will provide three case studies in relation to 1) how development work is changing during COVID-19; 2) anti-racism work in development; and 3) decolonization efforts in the Atlantic Canadian development context. Drawing on ACIC’s work in these areas, participants will engage in three small group discussions (15 minutes each in succession) before returning to the larger group for a facilitated conversation that will be reflected visually by a graphic recorder.

How development work is changing during COVID-19: This discussion will be guided by the Atlantic Resilience Research Report, which was compiled by ACIC in Summer 2020 to understand the creativity, adaptability, and challenges of Atlantic organizations during the pandemic, to contribute to our community of practice and showcase members’ stories.

Anti-racism work in development: This discussion will reflect on how organizations can engage meaningfully in anti-racism work at the organizational level to create organizational change, challenge existing power structures, and support organizations (members, volunteers, staff) to engage in anti-racism work at micro and macro levels.

Decolonization efforts in the Atlantic Canadian development context: This discussion will ask how organizations can support decolonization efforts while centering Indigenous perspectives in this work. The case study example will be the online Indigenous Global Leadership Program, which brings together Indigenous youth from across Canada to share their perspectives as youth changemakers, learn about global issues, and build their leadership skills for local and global change.

10:00am - 11:30am5.1.4: Publishing your article: a guide for young scholars - Workshop
Location: Room 4
Technical chair: Furqan Asif
Room 4 

A. Haroon Akram-Lodhi1, Stephen Brown2

1Trent University, Canada; 2University of Ottawa

Publishing your research can be a daunting experience for doctoral students and graduates. This workshop will work its way through the process of publication in scholarly journals, with particular reference to the Canadian Journal of Development Studies. It will include advice on submitting your article, receiving a response, responding to that response, tracking copy-editing, and publicizing your published article.

11:30am - 12:30pmLunch Day 5
12:30pm - 2:00pm5.2.1: Restorying climate change narratives
Location: Room 1
Technical chair: Nasya Razavi
Room 1 

Chair(s): Jonathan Langdon (St. Francis Xavier University, Canada), Blane Harvey (McGill University)

We are increasingly beginning to realize that “facts are not enough” in the push for meaningful action on climate change. The IPCC and other global bodies have been warning us about the increasing dire situation for over 25 years and yet actions remain grossly insufficient – the 2019 Convention of Parties in Madrid where countries failed to develop a framework to enact the Paris agreement being a case in point. Scholars, activists and others engaging in this struggle have recognised the importance of narrative, story, and rich personal accounts in humanizing and bringing to life the often distant and abstract evidence that is presented to us through climate models and projections. For instance, at the 2019 Transformations conference in Chile, the crucial link between artists and climate change narratives was central to the conference. Narrative forms of expression are being used for a range of purposes: expressing the loss and grief associated with impacts already being experienced; re-telling ways that communities or partnerships have succeeded in responding to the impacts they were confronting; articulating a group’s vision for alternative futures and the means of achieving them; and even building connection and solidarity between groups experiencing similar challenges in vastly different contexts. This session seeks to explore the power of story and narrative, understand how these are generated and shared, and reflect on how these stories relate to other forms of action. It also explores whose stories of a climate changed future are being told, whose are being marginalized, and how we can address this silencing.


Presentations of the Symposium


Stories of change as a tool for collective learning

Elaine Huang1, Blane Harvey2
1McGill, 2McGill University

Actions that lead to meaningful change (whether through research, activism, or political processes) rarely unfold in a linear or straightforward manner. The “messiness” of real change processes can mean that learning from the experience is challenging and partial, limited to individuals’ vantage points, or oversimplified accounts of what unfolded. This paper reports on initial results from the use of a story-based approach to understanding outcomes in international collaborations on adaptation to climate change in Africa and Asia. We will explore how this model of story-based contribution analysis has helped to develop rich accounts of change, as well as of the learning and collaboration processes that catalysed the change, and how collective analysis of different stories of change can begin to reveal strategies for change that can inform future action on climate and development.


Restorying the past to defend sustainable livelihood futures: the case of the Yihi Katseme of Ada, Ghana

Jonathan Langdon1, Sophia Kitcher2, Sheena Cameron3
1St. Francis Xavier University, 2Yihi Katseme, 3OISE

For the past 11 years, a participatory action research project in Ada, Ghana has had stories at the research's core. Movement actions have come from these stories, and stories have become the way in which movement learning has emerged. This presentation will describe how combining narrative restorying with participatory research approaches generated storytelling and meaning making that has been a crucial dimension of social movement organizing and learning in Ada. This movement, known as the Yihi Katseme, or Brave Women, has been defending communal access to West Africa’s largest salt yielding lagoon from both internal and external threats of expropriation/privatization, as well as environmental degradation. This resource is the backbone of 60,000+ people’s livelihoods. The presentation will share several of the narratives that emerged from the research, and how restorying has enabled these narratives to evolve over time to reveal deepening community resilience, learning, and emergent strategies in not only meaning making, but also making changes to meaning through actions.


Mi’kma’ki 2030, opening spaces to imagine a decolonized, climate just future

Liliona Quarmyne1, Jonathan Langdon2
1Mi'kma'ki 2030, 2St. Francis Xavier University

Emerging out of the 2030 Declaration Network in Nova Scotia (a network that demands concrete climate action from government on all levels), Mi’kma’ki 2030 began as an artistic response to the question, “what does a decolonized, climate just future look like in Mi’kma’ki?” Mi’kma’ki is the ancestral and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq – an area that comprises most of the Maritimes and part of New England. The artist collective that emerged in response to the question brings together BIPOC artists to build and interrogate these future visions, create new narratives, and foster resiliency in working towards a climate just future. This presentation will focus on the story of the collective so far, and public response to these decolonizing spaces – one of which reconfigured Halifax’s city hall into a sweat lodge. The importance of climate justice in shaping climate change narratives will also be articulated.


Storying as pathways to sustainable futures: A participatory scenario development method

Elaine Huang
McGill University

As homo narrans, our course of action is largely shaped by how we story our past, present, and imagined futures. However, the dominant approach to scenario development heavily relies on a few quantifiable or large-scale drivers. It has downplayed local processes and people’s agency to change, and constrained our imagined possibilities for sustainable futures. The lack of scenario narratives towards sustainable futures, as this presentation will argue, have also generated much anxiety (Findlater et al. 2018), skepticism (Huang, Harvey & Asghar, in review), and even climate fatalism (Mayer & Smith 2019), which can lead to further inaction. This presentation will share a visioning-focused approach to developing scenario narratives. By combining backcasting technique with participatory research, the method starts from people’s imagined futures to construct scenario narratives that are plausible and can be operated within planetary boundaries. The case of transforming the role of universities for SDGs will be discussed.

12:30pm - 2:00pm5.2.2: Colonialism, Capitalism and the State: The case of Bangladesh
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Marie Gagné
Technical chair: Liam Swiss
Room 2 

Development, Democracy, and the Environment: Contested Energy Future in Bangladesh

M. Omar Faruque

Queen's University, Canada

Bangladesh adopted a long-term economic plan in 2010 to be a middle-income country by 2021 and a high-income country by 2041. It identified rapid and diverse industrialization as a critical driver of accelerated economic growth. Accordingly, the government prepared a power sector master plan (2016-2041) to meet this goal, which stipulated increased use of coal for power generation (35 percent of the planned power capacity). It commissioned several large coal-fired power plants, now at various stages of construction. These policy changes were also the reflection of a growing influence of its development financiers, particularly China and Japan. Both countries have an enormous impact on the policymaking and financing of projects in the energy sector. Since 2011, this fossil fuel-based development intervention has generated vibrant environmental mobilizations contesting the government’s approach to a sustainable energy future, which civil society groups argue, is devoid of the democratic process of accountability, transparency, and deliberation. There is a growing demand both globally and locally for countries to move towards renewable and low-carbon energy future gradually. Bangladeshi policymakers are less committed to such a transition. How can we explain their rigidity? To what extent do the Bangladeshi political institutions explain the behaviour of the political and bureaucratic elites? This paper will draw on the institutional perspective of the political economy of development to analyze popular discontent over Bangladesh’s energy policy regime in the context of its political crisis (growing authoritarianism) and environmental crisis (climate change vulnerability). It will emphasize that the rent-seeking political behaviour affects the policymaking process, so much so that specific policy choices often reflect the entrenched interests of actors connected to the ruling elites. Therefore, its policymakers take a contradictory position: on the one hand they blame advanced industrial countries for Bangladesh's climate vulnerability while aggressively pursue fossil fuel-based energy future.

State-community Power Struggles in Forest Co-Management: The case of Rema-Kalenga Protected Area in Bangladesh

Sujoy Subroto1,3, Conny Davidsen1, AZM Manzoor Rashid2, Margarita Cuadra3

1Department of Geography, University of Calgary, Canada.; 2Department of Urban and Rural Development, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Uppsala, Sweden.; 3Department of Forestry and Environmental Sciences, Shahjalal University of Science and Technology, Sylhet, Bangladesh.

Co-management models between local communities and the state have gained considerable attention over the past decades to address persistent challenges of protected area governance and reconcile ecological conservation with sustainable livelihoods and local development. This study examines how Bangladesh’s forest co-management structures have fared vis-à-vis continued asymmetrical power relationships between communities and the state in Bangladesh’s top-down forest governance system, specifically de facto forest governance structures in the case of Rema-Kalenga Wildlife Sanctuary and its larger landscape zone. Empirical data were collected based on an exploratory qualitative methodological focus and Lockwood’s four good governance principles were adopted as an analytical framework which was further supplemented by Agrawal and Ribot’s power typology. Our findings reveal that Rema-Kalenga’s regional forest actors have been struggling to develop a shared understanding regarding the goals and distribution of power in protected area co-management. The study points toward two developments: First, a low realized level of devolution as Rema-Kalenga’s co-management institutions operate as mere unpaid ‘helpers’ under the shadow of the state’s centralized top-down governance in the Wildlife Sanctuary. Secondly, this study found signs of emerging dual governance in which local co-management institutions create their own spaces of engagement and de facto influence in the larger Rema-Kalenga landscape zone, in contrast to being visibly less functional in the core zone. Connections between these two spheres are sporadic, hampering ecosystem-approaches in Rema-Kalenga, and questioning the cohesiveness of co-management purposes in the studied area.

From colonialism to neoliberalism: Exploitation in Bangladesh's clothing industry

Nabila Idris

University of Cambridge, United Kingdom

In this paper, I draw parallels between the colonial exploitation of Bengal's textiles industry and the neoliberal exploitation of Bangladesh's garments industry, culminating in the pandemic.

From as early as the seventh century, Bengal has been renowned for its textiles. In the colonial era, the prototypical multinational, the British East India Company, systematically wrung the textiles industry dry by squeezing out weavers, controlling exports, and flooding the captured local market with inferior British goods. Its neoliberal successors continue the enterprise in today's Bangladesh, which is a major hub of the global garments supply chain. I particularly focus on two multistakeholder policy efforts to institutionalise labour-friendly social protection in the country between 2012-2019.

Based on an adapted political settlements approach, using data from over sixty elite interviews and the analysis of hundreds of internal government documents, this qualitative study unearths the complex system of power and economic relations spread across the globe that hamstrung efforts to improve Bangladeshi workers’ social protection. It reveals an incestuous overlap between state and business, the powerlessness of national governments in the face of multinational entities, and the fundamental weakness of labour as a viable force in neoliberal global capitalism.

The failure to extend social protection to workers would prove disastrous during the coronavirus pandemic as its absence allowed global clothing brands and local elites to force on the workers a stark choice between lives and livelihoods. As a result, Bangladeshi workers returned to factories a full month before the lockdown was eased. The study is significant because it shows how colonial exploitation has not disappeared but simply morphed in modern times. Truncated social protection agendas that exclude workers can easily progress unchallenged in developing countries and, as the pandemic reveals, prove fatal in the long run.

12:30pm - 2:00pm5.2.3: Aid and NGOs in a colonized world
Location: Room 3
Session Chair: Christine Gibb
Technical chair: Kate Grantham
Room 3 

The Development Bank as a Colonizing Project: Power, Culture and Inequality at the Top of the 'Development Food Chain’

Ritu Verma

College of Culture and Language Studies - Royal University of Bhutan, and Out of the Box Canada

If development is a colonialist project, it is deeply rooted in problematic tenets of capitalism. Development continues to perpetuate historical patterns of colonization first constructed and epitomized by transnational corporations such as the British East India Company, authorized agents and conduits of the Crown that expanded and built the colonial empire. Instead of by royal decree, they are driven by inter-governmental charters that establish influential centres of power and skewed relations of finance that expand capitalist accumulation and material consumption based on the premise of endless growth. Over time, they have played a hand in widening income inequalities for a small yet powerful segment of beneficiaries as targets of development, and those doing the actual targeting. This is exemplified at the top of the development ‘food chain’, a space dominated by powerful development banks. This paper explores the way development banks act as drivers of hegemonic development, shaping the way inequitable practices and colonial understandings of development and finance are conceptualized, shaped, prioritized, deployed and perpetuated to the disadvantage of those deemed ‘less developed’. In doing so, historical chains of resource exploitation, knowledge appropriation, material accumulation, unsustainable consumption and the missionary zeal of converting local populations to the ethos of modernity remain unbroken. Also central to the colonial world are social worlds, organizational culture, and ongoing patterns of development practice, policy and lending of development banks, including the construction of ‘expert’ knowledge and its material effects on the ground. The colonial life-worlds and lifestyles of bank practitioners living and working in aidland are therefore foundational. The paper reflects on ways development banks can be reconfigured and reconstituted by decolonizing their practices, policies, debt/finance schemes, institutions and organizational culture to ensure equality, inclusivity, empathy, and ultimately, redressing exploitation, appropriation, oppression, dispossession, marginalization and the myriad of power imbalances they perpetuate.

Criticality of Public Trust for Success of Development Agenda: Lessons from Afghanistan

Seyed Ali Hosseini

Balsillie School of International Affairs, Canada

Development agenda has been promoted for decades for being a panacea for some structural problems like insecurity, poverty, hunger, and injustice. It also has been recognised, by academics, policymakers and practitioners, that among the reasons that it does not produce the promised outcomes is corruption in development projects. The focus of anti-corruption scrutiny has mostly been the recipient states, and especially government institutions, and the corruption in and accountability of the development assistance providers are not adequately researched and addressed. This qualitative research critically examines the effect of corruption among development assistance providers on the erosion of public trust and the success of development agenda in addressing insecurity, poverty and injustices through the case study of Afghanistan.

A recipient of major development aid in the last two decades, Afghanistan remains poor, insecure and one of most corrupt countries in the world. While there have been numerous reports about corruption of Afghan government and elites, a less researched aspect of corruption is corruption among the state and non-state international development providers. Pointing the finger of blame at the local institutions without addressing the problem in the foreign institutions reminds the colonial arrogance of blaming locals for lack of capacity to develop. This paper argues that unaddressed problem of corruption among development assistance providers as well as their support to corrupt Afghan partners resulted in erosion of trust between international community and the local population and, hence, undermined the peacebuilding and state-building efforts. Using poststructuralist view, it examines the anticorruption assumptions and performance of international aid providers, through examining the reports by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction’s reports (SIGAR) and other organizations. The research aims to highlight the importance of transparency and accountability of both providers and recipients of development assistance to make the agenda more inclusive and transformative.

“Legitimate survivor” … according to whom?

Christine Gibb

University of Ottawa, Canada

Development and humanitarian work have a long history of categorizing people. These categories have had myriad material and discursive repercussions for those included in and excluded from projects, as well as for development and humanitarian organizations and their donors. This paper examines the issue of defining so-called “legitimate survivors” in the aftermath of a disaster. After all, “legitimate survivors” are eligible for relief goods and services, resettlement housing, livelihood loans, among other benefits. But categorizing some individuals or groups as deserving of assistance, and others not, is never a neutral exercise. Rather, it serves the broader political, economic, environmental and social interests of diverse stakeholders. In this paper, I use disaster case studies from the literature and my own fieldwork to study how definitional criteria impact, and are impacted by, development projects. I ask questions such as: How exactly is legitimacy defined? Who articulates the criteria? How are claims to (il)legitimacy subverted? How might it be possible to decolonize the categories that delimit the boundaries of disaster relief, rebuilding and resettlement? These questions are not only important for populations affected by disasters and for the organizations serving them, but also for development practitioners, scholars and activists who struggle with setting project parameters and selecting project beneficiaries.

Bureaucratic pluralism as a source of development partnership: Exploring the case of aid spending across 'other' government departments

Rachael Calleja1, Nilima Gulrajani2

1Centre for Global Development UK; 2Overseas Development Institute, UK

Donors across the OECD-DAC have often channeled Official Development Assistance through other government departments (OGDs). OGD 'otherness' derives from the fact that these bureaucratic branches of government are not the 'principal' body with responsibility for global development policy or programming. This paper empirically investigates the tendency for bureaucratic pluralism in global development policy-making and implementation across the DAC, drilling down into data from the Canadian case in the post-2013 merger period. We suggest the use of OGDs as a channel for ODA disbursement may provide a new template for intra-governmental partnership, with implications for domestic coordination, policy coherence and the political accountability of ODA spending.

12:30pm - 2:00pm5.2.4: Decolonizing the International Development Studies syllabus - Workshop
Location: Room 4
Technical chair: Adrian Murray

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Room 4 

Chairs: Georgina Alonso1, Adrian Murray2

1University of Ottawa; 2University of Johannesburg

While the concept of development is contested and the goals and methods of development practice are debated, ostensibly the uniting principle of development is that it is about ‘making the world a better place.’ This workshop is based on the premise that development studies can do a much better job of empowering students with the tools to take informed and urgent action in this pursuit, particularly by focusing on decolonization and anti-racism.. We begin with a discussion of what ‘decolonizing’ international development education could look like, followed by breakout room brainstorming sessions centred on specific aspects of curriculum building.

The make-up of development studies classrooms is changing. While it is fundamentally important to push back against the white saviourism that many eager students bring to development studies, we must also recognize the diversity of backgrounds, experiences, and needs of racialized students, ensuring that learning content speaks to everyone. In an effort to address the diverse needs of students and combat the anxiety, cynicism, and pessimism that is increasingly common amongst development studies students--especially in the context of COVID-19, the climate crisis, the dismal job market and growing inequality--we propose a rethink of the core development studies literature. This would involve broadening the diversity of thinkers to include a wider variety of ontological perspectives, epistemological positions and identities. Indigenous literatures and worldviews in particular can help students envision alternatives to oppressive systems which can seem impossible to overcome.

2:00pm - 2:30pmBreak Day 5
2:30pm - 4:00pm5.3.1: Global Minerals Local Communities in Canada and the Philippines
Location: Room 1
Session Chair: John Edison Ubaldo
Technical chair: Kate Grantham
Room 1 

Chair(s): Angela Mariz Asuncion (University of Guelph, Canada)

The mining sector is both resilient and vulnerable; evolving in many instances at the nexus of large corporations operating at the local scale with communities that are impacted both positively and negatively by the industry. Our panel explores the many issues and opportunities that arise within these complex relationships. On the one hand, our work builds upon the premise that mining companies are multi- faceted actors, not monolithic entities that behave uniformly. Host communities', on the other, have diverse and complex development goals, interests and needs as they engage with corporate actors.

Experience over the last five decades suggests that mining contributions to economic development varies greatly across countries. In some it has been a major engine of development. In others disputes have erupted over land use, property rights, environmental damage, and revenue sharing. Corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs implemented through health, economic development, education and training projects, are increasingly relied upon to manage company-community relations. Yet conflicts persist in many settings, with significant costs for companies and communities. The challenge -- and it is a globally important one -- is to identify the best means of enabling socially and environmentally sensitive non-renewable resource development in a time when outside forces, including national governments, corporate interests, and environmental activism, constrain the ability of local populations to make regionally appropriate decisions and take action.


Presentations of the Symposium


Digging for Accountability: Structural Power Inequalities in Global Mining Discourse

Angela Mariz Asuncion1, Nicolas D. Brunet1, Dominique Caouette2
1University of Guelph, 2University of Montreal

In recent decades the Canadian mining industry has been increasingly scrutinized for being directly and indirectly involved in environmental devastation, forced displacement, systematic rape, slavery and billions in tax evasion, amongst other forms of corporate abuse. Discourse and power have played a fundamental role in the dominance of corporate social responsibility practice regulating the mining industry as opposed to legally binding legislation. Researchers have challenged global mining discourses, stating its origins are founded in modernization theory, white supremacy, and racist representations of Global South governance. By challenging dominant mining discourses and gaining a deeper understanding of the power it exercises (and resists), we create opportunities to transform the narrative into one that strengthens local agency and self-determination. This paper will provide an up-to-date review and critical examination of global mining discourse and its impacts on community agency, using Canadian mining operations in the Philippines as a case study for analysis.


After The Mine Has Left: The Case Of Maricalum Mining In Negros Island, Philippines

John Edison Ubaldo1, Kellyane Levac2, Dominique Caouette2
1University of the Philippines, 2University of Montreal

The municipality of Sipalay in Southern Negros Island, Philippines is copper deposit haven. Interest in the copper deposits came as early as the 1930s but nothing materialized until a mining company started operating in the 1950s. Residents who lived to witness the glorious days of the mines would recall how “wealthy” their community was as household income would meet more than their daily needs. Economic activities skyrocketed as the mining operations required more workers to answer the demand for expansion. The population of the municipality, later promoted to a city due to the income generated from the mines, increased exponentially over a short period of time with electric and water services provided to the local communities by the mine. A school and other infrastructural projects, funded by the mining company, were also built to aid the LGU and the community. While CSR was not in use at the time, it looked like Maricalum Mining Industrial Corp. (MMIC) was doing well by providing social services and taking care of their impacted local communities. However, by the time it closed in the early 1990s, after five decades of operation, the municipality had also suffered from the damages of numerous disasters including mining spills. And although the school continues to provide accessible education to the community, the electric and water services were cut off. Maricalum Mining operations left the municipality with a deformed topography that brings about danger to the community, millions of pesos in unpaid taxes, and hundreds of unemployed and retrenched workers who remain uncompensated to this day. This paper examines the paradoxes and contradictions of the mines’ achievements and downfall from the narratives of locals interviewed highlighting the double-edged nature of CSR efforts.


IAMGOLD Corporation: A look at the Toronto-based mining company’s responses to gender issues

Julie Guernier
University of Montreal

Usually known as a damaging industry for their social, economic and environmental impacts, in recent years mining companies have invested more attention and funds in sustainable development as well as corporate social responsibility. However, aren’t ʻsustainabilityʼ and ‘mining’ two magnets opposing each other in a way that would never make them compatible? Holder of three Towards Sustainable Mining Excellence awards as well as a total of four Towards Sustainable Mining Leadership awards, the mining company IAMGOLD Corporation is recognized as one of the Canadian mining companies most involved in sustainable and CSR business. Therefore, thanks to a content analysis of IAMGOLD’s health, safety and sustainability reports, this paper will explore the ways and extent to which gender issues are understood, measured and portrayed in the IAMGOLD’s sustainability reports. In doing so, this paper will attempt to identify IAMGOLD’s perceptions, approaches and interests related to gender concerns using an ecofeminist perspective.


The Canadian Talk: A documentary about development and mining

Erika Ranke-Farro
University of Montreal

Is development a positive thing? Half of the world's mining and exploration companies are Canadian. Most of these companies are located in Canada, but they also have significant overseas operations. Large Canadian mining companies are drawn to tax exemptions and regulatory control policies that are almost absent in countries of the South where corruption, neglect of human rights and destruction of the environment rules. This mixture can be described as explosive because it is characterized by the coexistence between huge Canadian mining companies that invest millions of dollars to massively extract precious metals and local communities. The objective of this documentary is to deconstruct and make accessible discourse on the social and environmental responsibility of mining companies by addressing through a series of interviews with specialists, activists, politicians and local communities the impact of mining companies on local communities.

2:30pm - 4:00pm5.3.2: Canadian NGOs: What now?
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Laura Parisi
Technical chair: Gloria Novovic
Room 2 

Canada’s Grassroots International NGOs: Who are they, what are they doing, and what role for the future?

John-Michael Davis

Worcester Polytechnic Institute, United States of America

International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) in the global North have rapidly grown in number over the past two decades, the majority of which are small-scale, privately funded, and volunteer-based “grassroots international NGOs” (GINGOs). Despite an abundance of research on “professionalized” INGOs, little empirical data is available to characterize GINGOs. While sparse, the literature on GINGOs has characterized these agents of development as a double-edged sword. On one hand, GINGOs are driven by altruism, a desire to right injustices, and personal relationships with individuals and communities in the global South, which can foster continuity and long-term learning. Moreover, since their budgets are small and sourced from everyday citizens, they evade the pressure of competitive funding cycles, having to contort development projects to match donor funding criteria, and the need to secure "quick victories" to report back to donor agencies. On the other hand, GINGOs are typically run by volunteers and non-specialists, which can lead to amateurism. The entrepreneurial spirit of GINGOs to take ownership of and command development projects can lead to inefficiencies, obscure broader power imbalances, and produce donor-driven, unsustainable, and potentially harmful interventions. This study constructed a dataset of 607 Canadian GINGOs based on the Canada Revenue Agency T3010 forms and organization websites to offer rich descriptive data on their structure, programmatic foci, and geographic distribution. The results offer a rich portrayal of GINGOs and explores their current and potential contributions towards international development goals.

Placing Women's Rights Organizations in the Driver's Seat: Oxfam Canada’s Self-Directed Capacity Assessment Tools and support for Organizational Capacity Strengthening

Lara Cousins, Deborah Simpson

Oxfam Canada, Canada

Oxfam Canada (OCA) focuses on organizational capacity strengthening because we believe that strong women’s rights organizations and civil society organizations are key agents of change in achieving gender justice and human rights. We consider there to be an inherent link between programming and organizational capacities, where organizations can do better gender justice work with their communities when their own internal structures, processes, and work are more sustainable, democratic, and gender-just. As part of our efforts to decolonize ‘development,’ we take a responsive approach to capacity-strengthening, recognizing that each organization is distinct, operating in its own context and at a different stage of organizational growth. We also use a self-assessment model, believing that organizations themselves are best suited to identify and gauge their own capacities and areas for strengthening, as part of a feminist approach to MEAL.

In 2009, OCA piloted a set of tools with diverse civil society partners, including a self-directed Capacity Assessment Tool (CAT). Our experience and feedback received from partners encouraged us to share them widely and led to their formalization through the development of OCA’s (2012) The Power of Gender-Just Organizations: A Conceptual Framework for Transformative Organizational Capacity- Building, and The Power of Gender-Just Organizations: Toolkit for Transformative Organizational Capacity-Building. From 2017-2019, OCA also developed additional thematic versions of the CAT, as well as an updated version of the original toolkit. In 2020, OCA commissioned an evaluation of the CAT and related processes. Whilst partners found the tool to be highly beneficial, they commented that OCA could do more to accompany partners in their capacity strengthening journeys. At CASID 2021, we would like to contribute to discussions surrounding if/how we can decolonize ourselves as activists and practitioners, through sharing experiences, reflections, challenges, and initial lessons learned in utilizing a self-assessment capacity-strengthening methodology.

International aid scandals: narratives, responses and the persistent white saviour complex

Finbar Hefferon

Memorial University, Canada

Scandals involving abuse, corruption and negligence regularly surface in the international aid sector. They can help shape popular perceptions of the sector and the West’s relationship with the Global South, while smearing efforts of the broader aid community. Recent media coverage and public criticism of the operations and development model of the now defunct WE Charity has renewed conversations of the damaging effects of ill-conceived western development interventions in the Global South. My research will improve our understanding of the framing and impact of such scandals, and the power dynamics between aid donors and recipients. In this paper I examine mainstream and social media coverage of these scandals from 2015-2020. First, I ask what themes are used in media coverage to frame aid scandals and examine the extent to which the coverage critically assesses issues of power, colonialism and exploitation between victims and perpetrators. Next, I assess various impacts of aid scandals on organizations and the broader aid sector. The research is grounded in postcolonial and post-development theory that critiques the Eurocentric and hierarchical nature of development and acknowledges “colonial continuities” that perpetuate colonial structures and practices in the sector. My research critically assesses the motivations and justifications behind aid workers’ interventions in the Global South and the accompanying moral imperatives and rationalization of good intentions to affect change - no matter the harm caused. By examining the narrative discourse surrounding aid scandals and their impact, this paper addresses critical sociological and political aspects of international development, while supporting more equitable, transparent and accountable models of development practice. The results provide an original contribution to the development literature to help understand the continued prevalence and consequences of aid scandals and the associated white saviour complex.

2:30pm - 4:00pm5.3.3: Digital Ethnography and the Digital Divide - Workshop
Location: Room 3
Technical chair: Adrian Murray

Register here.

(conference registration required)

Room 3 

Chairs: Shama Dossa, Laila Rajani

Habib University, Pakistan

In the age of lockdowns and physical distancing it is becoming harder to conduct research in the context of International Development. Limited access to participants and the safety of researchers are key considerations in exploring field based methodologies. Given the context of the Pandemic the field as we know it has changed. This workshop will focus on the possibilities and challenges of researching the pandemic drawing on a digital ethnography approach. Issues of ethics, recruitment, technological access, data making and analysis will be explored. The workshop will highlight some of the learning from a longitudinal study in Pakistan - Families and Communities in the Time of COVID (FACT) which is Part of a larger ten country study led by University College London. Participants will be encouraged to bring a research question they wish to work with to discuss options and ideas and brain storm methodological solutions.

Workshop Objectives

1) Participants will learn about the approach and its application in the contexts of a digital divide

2) Participants will be facilitated to apply the approach to a research question they have in mind to see if elements of the approach can be used

2:30pm - 4:00pm5.3.4: Digitizing Basic Services: Mentoring the social business franchise - Workshop
Location: Room 4
Technical chair: Furqan Asif

Register here.

(conference registration required)

Room 4 

Chairs: Faisal Haq Shaheen1, Fayyaz Baqir2

1Ryerson University, Canada; 2University of Ottawa, Canada

Pakistan continues to underperform on a number of social and economic indicators as compared to other countries at the same level of income. A significant part of this is due to the lack of service delivery. Most urban services are restricted to the formal sector, while the informal sector struggles with a lack of access and several barriers.

The formal sector has erected several barriers in part due to a lack of understanding of service and predatory ideology, policies, and practices of elites. Community level barriers revolve around a lack of integration between formal and informal knowledge, little documentation, limited analysis or guidance, politicization of solutions and class dynamics.

Utilizing the entry points: Water, Sanitation, and Solid Waste Management; the TKE network seeks to engage and train young community members to develop social business models which will strengthen and support lower tier service delivery in local government.

Applicants will qualify for getting a Franchise for ‘Adopt Your Town’ (AYT) if they compile a score card for basic services in at least one Union Council (UC)-lowest tier of local government- and mark the service scores on a base map. Once mapping and scoring of services for all of the UCs, TKE’s local partners in Pakistan will work with the selected candidate to sign a Service Management contract with the town government under which AYT will oversee and report on service quality to the town government, issue bills and collect payments at the household level as a subcontractor. In turn, AYT will receive payments for the services rendered to the government. AYT Management in Pakistan will receive a onetime contract fee and periodic payment of a management services fee from the AYT Franchisee.

This workshop will map out and critique the civic entrepreneurship model with peers and seek to improve upon design.