Conference Program

Overview and details of the sessions of this conference. Please select a date or location to show only sessions at that day or location. Please select a single session for detailed view (with abstracts and downloads if available).

To join a session click on the session title in the program and click on the blue Zoom button near the top of the session page. Zoom buttons will appear 15 min before a session starts. You must login to access the Zoom sessions and may have to reload the page.


Session Overview - All times EDT

Register here!

Location: Room 2
Date: Monday, 31/May/2021
12:30pm - 2:00pm1.2.2: Arts and Social Media for Development
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Furqan Asif
Technical chair: Furqan Asif
Room 2 

Picturing our Realities: Arts-based reflections from Central American youth living in Canada

Juan Carlos Jimenez

University of Toronto - St. George

This presentation will discuss a community-based research (CBR) project in Toronto, Canada, led by young researchers from the Central American Diaspora, entitled “Picturing Our Realties”, which explores the experiences of Central American youth identified as 1.5 and second-generation immigrants growing up in Canada and navigating legacies of trauma, socio-economic barriers, and racism. Through an art-based method of investigation called Photovoice, participants engaged in self-led data collection and reflection by exploring their experiences and realities through photographs and writing. These art-pieces provided an analysis of their social positions and feelings, and how young people chose to represent themselves and their realities. The research team engaged in positionality by creating Digital Stories, an arts-based practice where participants make a video collage with an accompanying narrative that relates a self-reflection of an author’s personal story, a technique meant to stimulate reflection and insights into one’s own history.

Using the Photovoice narratives of a total of eight participants, the study indicated that youth struggled with the lasting emotional and psychological scars left by the experience of violence and the sudden migratory experiences of the generations that came before them. The youth shared the emotional consequences of being 1.5 and second-generation Central American migrants fleeing war and how the circumstances shaped the trajectories of their lives, goals, well-being, and ideas of success. Other themes identified include the socio-economic barriers present in youth’s lives, discrimination in the school system, precarious status, and the importance of community in providing needed systems of support. Finally, the presentation will discuss the benefits of Photovoice and Digital Storytelling as a tool to engage youth and the opportunity it presented to youth for self-reflection, positioning them as the experts of their realities, and stimulating critical reflection of positionality on the part of researchers.

Tweeting the Pandemic: Exploring environmental charity responses to the COVID-19 and climate crises

Hannah Ascough

Queen's University, Canada

In this paper, I argue that the theories of ubuntu, social ecofeminism, and post-development can be harnessed as tools to understand the impact of COVID-19 on large-scale international environmental charities (ENGOs), and their conceptions of “environmental development”.

The similarities between climate change and COVID-19 – in how both affect marginalized groups and threaten notions of hegemonic growth – also offer an opportunity to imagine a radically different future based on just transitions from capitalism into social, economic and environmental equality. Large, international ENGOs tend to shape development efforts to combat climate change; it is thus important to understand how these charities responded to the pandemic, and what that response means for global environmental development strategies.

In the first part of my paper, I explain my theoretical framework, rooted in a decolonial lens and created to analyze discursive responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. This framework draws on three intersecting theories: the African worldview of ubuntu, social ecofeminism, and post-development. Ubuntu’s holistic, communitarian values have deep implications for alternatives to capitalism; likewise, social ecofeminism deconstructs capitalist exploitation and oppression, while post-development theory critiques the colonial nature of development itself.

The second part of my paper applies this framework to “tweets” from a sampling of international ENGOs that refer specifically to the COVID-19 and climate crises. This analysis highlights the efficacy of the framework in deconstructing environmental “development” efforts; it examines whether large-scale charities used COVID-19 to envision an equitable and just transition, or if these ENGOs promoted colonial, hegemonic development paradigms as a means for a post-pandemic recovery.

Ultimately, my paper presents a cohesive, decolonial framework for understanding the global, environmental development response to the pandemic, and overall, seeks to provide insight into global environmental development relationships as they have been impacted by the pandemic.

Theatre for Development: Access in a Time of Pandemic

Telisa Courtney1, John Battye1, Hussein Madden2, Raphael Mahulo3, Desai Ogada4, Sheilah Onguo4, William Okumu5

1University of Alberta, Canada; 2Rafiki Theatre, Uganda; 3Ignite Afrika Trust, Kenya; 4Lagnet Theatrix, Kenya; 5LazerArts Ensemble, Kenya

In an age of communication and technological expansion, it is important to remember that this progress is not equally accessible. Development relies on grassroots, community-driven, on-the-ground work to reach the most marginalized. One of the ways this is accomplished is through the arts. Art has the power to facilitate important conversations, build community strength, and encourage participation and self-advocacy. In Kenya and Uganda there are several Theatre for Development groups working with and for their communities for these important goals.

These groups rely on funding from NGOs and other finance bodies. Because they work within their own communities and in other marginalized places that cannot afford to pay them , this has created a cycle of dependency on funding that is hard to escape. When that support withdraws, or is withdrawn due to crisis, what happens to this important work?

With this in mind, we engage in conversation with theatre artists from Uganda and Kenya who work in grassroots development, theatre for education, and cross-border development. Questions of access to support, technology, and the changes that occurred to their operations when COVID-19 lockdowns began will be investigated.

A reality of the international political and economic system, dependency has been created for this necessary and community-driven work. With the Global North retreating into protectionism and increasingly adopting austerity measures, resulting from both COVID and the rise in right-wing populism and global recession, the Global South is being left behind.

We ask whose needs are being met and confront the reality of how the expanse of technology, the rapid adjustment of organizations moving online, and governmental responses all failed these on-the-ground artists. We finish by celebrating the work still being done. Despite these challenges, TfD artists are persevering in their goals, adapting as best they can to the uncertainty and instability.

2:30pm - 4:00pm1.3.2: Contextualizing Colonial Roots in Transit-Oriented Development and “Urban Renewal.” Perspectives from Little Jamaica’s Black Residents (Toronto)
Location: Room 2
Technical chair: Adrian Murray
Room 2 

Chair(s): Sebastián Miguel Mendoza-Price (Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West, Canada), Omi Ra (Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West), Jem Baptiste (Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West), Marcus Pereira (Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West)

Colonization should be primarily understood as an ongoing process, and its use of “development” as a tool to advance the interests of the colonial project. Depicted as a process that is in the national, regional, and/or provincial interest, governments across the Americas have justified the displacement of neighbourhood residents, often working class and racialized, as an emblem of urban renewal. This process is known as gentrification.

This is ongoing in Toronto, Canada. Residents of the Little Jamaica neighbourhood, a Black community that remains a repository of Toronto history, are at risk of removal as those at all levels of government renegotiate space within their settlements with the effect of pushing these working class residents out of their community.

As we speak, this community is feeling the squeeze of the looming Eglinton Crosstown LRT project that is effectively shutting down its streets, with over 160 Black-owned businesses closed (or on the verge of closing) and its majority rental-residents to be priced out, evicted, and forced to relocate. This has been detrimental to the ongoing cultural preservation of Toronto’s Black identity.

Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West, a coalition of young activists from the neighbourhood, have worked on collecting testimonies to describe the “meaning” of Little Jamaica to both remaining residents and those with historical ties to the neighbourhood. This collection of anecdotal testimonies to retell the colonial history that facilitated the development of the neighbourhood, and the development project that has contributed to its decline. Our testimonials seek to present a story of how transit-oriented development is perceived and exacted inconsistently according to class, race, place, and space, informed by the existing body of both Little Jamaica specific and Toronto-wide research that has challenged the egalitarian narrative surrounding transit-oriented development in the city of Toronto.


Presentations of the Symposium


Testimonials from Little Jamaica residents on LJ’s past, present and futures current and historical residents: Presented by Jem Baptiste

Jem Baptiste
Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West

Jem Baptiste is a young person working to maintain the cultural mosaic that is the Little Jamaica neighbourhood. They are a student currently enrolled at the Ontario College of Art and Design University in the fine arts program exploring how art preserves the memory and experiences of Black people.

Being a Little Jamaica Resident who has experienced firsthand the effects of gentrification on the neighbourhood and its relationship to Metrolinx’s Eglinton Crosstown LRT led them to developing Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West, a youth led advocacy organization fighting to preserve the cultural relevance of the neighbourhood. A large portion of the neighbourhood's dwellers are racialized immigrants, and often have both legal (precarious status, weak labour protections) and social (overpolicing, language and education barriers) constraints that prevent them from challenging the gentrification of their neighbourhood. This leaves the community, and communities like it across the world, defenceless and vulnerable to the consequences of ‘urban renewal’. Jem Baptiste will be presenting a series of testimonials from current residents as well as those who have deep ties to the neighbourhood but have either been displaced or moved away, and analyze the key takeaways from the testimonial collection to understand how gentrification, transit development, and cultural space is understood from a Black perspective in the colonial city of Toronto. This will be accompanied by personal testimonials surrounding both lived experience as residents of the neighbourhood as well as activists fighting for its preservation, and thoughts on an explicitly black control over the future of Eglinton West while addressing Canada’s histories of Colonialism, Capitalism, and White Supremacy


How Transit And Transit Expansion Facilitate Gentrification: Presented by Sebastián Mendoza-Price

Sebastián Miguel Mendoza-Price
Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West

Sebastián Mendoza-Price is an undergraduate student in Urban Studies and Religion at the University of Toronto and community organizer who's work both in academia and in organizing spaces has focused on cultural conflict between racialized communities and governments in urban spaces. They have been organizing actively with the St James Town Tenants Network, Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West, and the Shut Down Canada movement, working to build dual power amongst the city and country’s racialized residents.

Sebastián will be covering in this section a series of reports on existing work that has focused on both Little Jamaica and the city of Toronto as a whole.

- "Black Future’s on Eglinton: An arts based community cultural mapping study with youth on Black culture, in confront of anti-Black racism” by CP Planning in Partnership with Black Urbanism TO

- "Report: A Black Business Conversation On Planning For The Future Of Black Businesses And Residents On Eglinton Ave W.” by Black Urbanism TO

- "The Three Cities within Toronto” by David Hulchanski

These reports will help to contextualize the ongoing struggle for Black Torontonians to assert their space in the face of transit-oriented “development” projects by analyzing Hulchanski's work that has mapped the gentrification of neighbourhoods near transit lines creating income based stratification based on proximity to transit infrastructure. The reports by Black Urbanism TO and Cheryll Case (CP Planning) will be analyzed through this lens to understand how Toronto approaches gentrification through Infrastructure building, in line with Canada's southern cities' histories as colonial trading and transit outposts.


Regenerative Solutions to Gentrification: presented by Omi Ra, candidate for Bsc in Health Studies at the University of Waterloo

Omi Ra
Reclaim/Rebuild Eglinton West

Omi Ra is an undergraduate student that has been involved in several organizing spaces between the Waterloo Region and the City of Toronto aimed at improving the both the physical and political environment for Black people. In their undergraduate career at the Unviersity of Waterloo, they founded RAISE, a student run service that addresses racism and xenophobia campus-wide as well as Equity4Who, a student-run organization that challenges the state of equity on campus. They are also a founding member of Reclaim, Rebuild EgWest.

Transit-oriented development is an issue affecting several communities following so-called Canada’s quest for capital expansion. While Little Jamaica’s staunch opposition to its gentrification exists in the Toronto zeitgeist, we’d like to further emphasize alternatives to urban renewal that work with communities and not against them. This portion of the presentation will cover these expansive and imaginative solutions that promote holistic community development and well-being. For example, this panel will include examples of grassroots advocacy strategies that include all members of all levels of the community -- ensuring that its cultural fabric remains intact while undergoing revival/reinvestment of resources. Engaging with the audience at this presentation will be critical to building bridges on personal experiences to understand common themes with regards to lived experiences as victims of the state’s gentrification movement.


Date: Tuesday, 01/June/2021
12:30pm - 2:00pm2.2.2: Finding Bridges within New Doctoral Research
Location: Room 2
Technical chair: Furqan Asif
Room 2 

Chair(s): Andrea Leigh Burke (Western University), Kaylia Little (University of Waterloo)

This panel seeks to demonstrate how the field of International Development can bridge the divide and be a common language for PhD Students working across a variety of disciplines and topics. While their work focuses on different Sustainable Development Goals including 4, 5, 7, 8, 10, and 17, common themes of inclusive development, structural inequalities, and multi-dimensional critiques of existing systems of development can be found. The panelists bring together different standpoints that inform Development Studies scholarship, bridging disciplinary, topical, and thematic divides and finding common ground by pursuing more inclusive and effective ways of doing development, both practically and theoretically.

Five (5) PhD Students in the preliminary stages of their dissertation research, proposing novel and important projects, will present and discuss their work in the form of a panel. This is an interactive panel that seeks to create a space for co-learning between panelists and attendees. Panelists welcome and encourage feedback from attendees who have a chance to influence the directions of their research. Panel attendees will have the chance to interact with emerging research areas and projects that doctoral students of international development are approaching. By fostering a space for students and seasoned researchers to collaborate and discuss new project-matter, this panel will effectively bridge perceived and real divides that are sometimes present between new students and scholars from various stages of life and work.

Join the panelists in addressing a wide range of vital issues in an open and inclusive space as they embark on their doctoral research.


Presentations of the Symposium


The gender-energy nexus in the Arctic

Kaylia Little
University of Waterloo

In Canada, affordable and clean energy access is a concern for 279 remote communities that are not connected to the electricity grid. The importance of energy access is supported by the United Nations and the World Bank as an essential component for lifting communities out of poverty. Current sustainable energy technologies offer solutions to meeting the electricity needs of the world while not further contributing to environmental degradation. Improved energy access has the potential to impact gender equity positively, but in order to do this, the complexities of the gender-energy nexus need to be understood. Gender and energy research has been mainly concentrated in the global south and energy is framed as gender-neutral in industrialized countries. In my research I will aim to understand the gender-energy nexus in Nunavut and bring attention to equity issues. Furthermore, my research seeks to build on current gender analysis frameworks in a way that is culturally and contextually appropriate.


Rethinking Empowerment Interventions: The politics of gender programming/planning within the bureaucracy USAID and the implications for transformative change.

Khursheed Sadat
University of Ottawa

Research on women’s empowerment development interventions are concerned with either measuring the ways in which interventions empower women or analyzing the arrangements of power that oppress women. Other research on empowerment interventions explore the limitations of such interventions affecting transformative change. Studies have yet to explore the ways those within the site of creating and implementing these empowerment programmes engage with such limitations to the transformative potential. My research investigates women’s empowerment development interventions as sites of tension, negotiation and transformation. My research answers the following questions: What can the experiences of USAID bureaucrats and gender planners who are involved in the design and implementation of the PROMOTE project, a women’s empowerment project in Afghanistan, reveal about the forces that constitute the process of the construction and implementation of this project? Furthermore, what can their experiences reveal about the challenges of creating and implementing truly transformative gender equality and women’s empowerment development policy and programming? PROMOTE is a five-year collaborative project (2014-2019) between both the U.S. and Afghan governments aimed at empowering young Afghan women, through training that equips them with the skills to become active leaders in society. Using this development project as an entry point, my research investigates the nuances and dynamics of struggle between structure and agency within the site of development institutions and studies its implications for transformative change in the context of fragile states.


Sexed Bodies, Trauma and Gender Based Violence: Testimonies from the Rohingya Genocide

Deeplina Banerjee
Western University

The persecutions of over half a million Rohingya Muslims, in the Rakhine state of Myanmar since late August 2017 have raised serious concerns of human rights violation and has left the international stakeholders shocked. The mass rapes and other forms of sexual violence, killing and torture have prompted the United Nations to label the genocide as a “textbook example of ethnic cleansing”. My proposed research focuses on investigating the widespread sexual violence against women during the genocide and understanding how their bodies respond to the trauma in the aftermath. Through my project I will seek to understand in the backdrop of the Rohingya genocide if the ethnic identities play a key role in violence against women during genocide and how those bodies then becomes a weapon of violence that is used against women and in the process they lose ownership and autonomy of their own bodies. The project will seek to address the complicated inter-relations among body, violence and ethnicity with a broader objective of understanding the body as a weapon of violence against the women thus zeroing it to a more individual level.


Aid effectiveness in a Small Island Developing State: The case of Vanuatu

Morgane Rosier
University of Ottawa

Fifteen years later, the implementation of the principles of the 2005 Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness globally is disappointing. However, the causes of this disregard to aid appropriation, donor alignment and harmonization - viewed as a first step towards a redistribution of power between aid donors and recipients - is still misunderstood and requires in depth qualitative analyses. Entitled Aid effectiveness in a

Small Island Developing State: The case of Vanuatu, my doctoral thesis focuses on a case study: the assistance provided by international actors to the Republic of Vanuatu, a Pacific island state, particularly following Covid-19 and Cyclone Harold in April 2020. More precisely, it answers: why do different aid actors circumvent or misapply the three core principles? In particular, what incentive dynamics weighing on them explain these poor results? As humanitarian and development actions are called to be complementary, why and how to reconcile humanitarian aid and development aid? What obstacles hinder this reconciliation? Furthermore, how did the Covid-19 pandemic slow down or accelerate the implementation of the Paris principles and what does it reveal about their relevance?


Essential Precarity: Exploring Cross-Sections of Gender and Racial

Andrea Burke
Western University

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted women's and racialized minorities' experiences with work, employment, labour-related stress, and the burden of care in formal and informal capacities. Essential Precarity: Exploring Cross-Sections of Gender and Racial Equality, Canadian COVID-19 Policies, and Feminized Care Work in Pandemic Times explores how pandemics exacerbate inequalities and/or create new opportunities for gender equality, social justice, and developing more favourable and equitable conditions in so-called developed countries. London, Ontario, Canada will serve as a case study to reveal how principles of community development, international development, feminist economics, and precarity can be applied to the realities of gendered and racialized professions specifically personal support work, that are high-risk, underpaid, largely unprotected, and care-centric. The context of COVID-19 reveals and exacerbates pre-existing conditions of precarity, discrimination, and insecurity for personal support workers in healthcare. I seek to explore how the lives and livelihoods of women in precarious positions during the pandemic -- particularly personal support workers doing crucial care work in high-risk spaces like hospitals and long-term care facilities -- is politicized and polarizing in Canadian discourse and policy, and how economic norms of austerity and privatization impact gender equality and women's safety during public health crises.

2:30pm - 4:00pm2.3.2: Decolonizing Development as a Decolonization of Mind
Location: Room 2
Technical chair: Nathan Andrews
Room 2 

Chair(s): Faisal Haq Shaheen (Ryerson University, Canada), Fayyaz Baqir (University of Ottawa)

Colonization has always been intertwined with development. Reason and colonization have travelled hand in hand from the First Industrial Revolution to the Covid-19 Pandemic. In the course of its rise and expansion, a global capitalist empire has encountered moments of strife, conflict, chaos and disillusionment. The Capitalist Order has demolished the organic relationships between the human communities, and the holistic relationship between the humans and nature, body and soul. Commodification of consciousness and the relegation of the soul to material pursuits has driven us and our natural habitat to the brink of destruction. The field of Development Studies in particular is in need of story tellers who will present the histories and heritage of the marginalized and excluded, in ways which will inform the repair of our fractured relationship with nature and one another.

This panel of story tellers will share their insights and provide extremely valuable insights about dealing with the differences, disputes, power play, conflict, and violence in a unique way, which can best be described as the art and science of dealing with the ‘other’. They provide a treasure trove of evidence for researchers, public policy analysts, academics, development professionals, policy makers, donors, and civil society organizations to draw meaningful conclusions for their work, gain insights into the dynamics of discovering and aligning the interests of different stakeholders with knowledge, tact and wisdom. They show how leadership is key to better engagement with ‘other’ in society and nature. They provide- to borrow the phrase from 1960s radicals- ‘a critique of arms’ not an ‘arm of critique’.


Presentations of the Symposium


Colonialism-Patriarchy in South Asia: Gendered legacy of constitutive disempowerment

Jennifer Euler-Bennett
Populate, Environment and Development Center

Colonial legacy in shaping gender inequalities is real. History shows that patriarchy and colonialism together have contoured the structural notions of gender relations and class divisions. The prominent male influential negotiated with the British colonial powers for economic gains and governance, while women were confined to the informal economy. The economic gamut within the confines of perceptions, attitudes and historic gender roles have perpetuated and penetrated the contemporary notions of globalization, with supplemented forms and guises. The absence of women’s role at the macro level, including the lack of coherent integration of women in the national economy has led to gendered social, economic and cultural inequality, and defines a multidimensional structure of social construct that sets women back and creates false divisions. Notwithstanding, that half of the world population comprises that of females, their contribution to family, community and national economies remains substantial yet largely overshadowed intentionally, or unintentionally under the myopic lens of misogynistic inclinations. From UN Millennium Development Goals to UN Sustainable Development Goals and what have you, gains are bleak if gender issues are not addressed within the realm of social justice, gender equality and pro-people democracy where no one is left behind. This paper examines the complexities of colonialism immersed in patriarchy. In doing so, it explores the contextual aspects of colonialism and gender, to help trace the critical nuances of gender inequality for an ingrained understanding of the dynamics of this relationship. From colonialism to globalization, this paper will dwell on the various facets of violations of women civil and human rights, the role of poverty/economic standing and culture in fundamentalist societies and in armed conflict zones in Asia.


Tensions between Colonial and Settler Worlds

Carolyn Laude
Carleton University

The Canadian Federal Government engages in exploitative resource extraction on Indigenous lands with little to no regard for the erosion of Indigenous lifeways. In February 2020, Wet’suwet’en hereditary leaders claimed they had not given consent to the Coastal GasLink pipeline development given its potential to erode their inherent rights. Additionally, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination (2020) contested the “forced removal” and the “disproportionate use of force” against Wet’suwet’en peoples when peacefully protesting the Coastal GasLink pipeline development. State violence against Wet’suwet’en clan members exposed systemic racism. Eurocentric political, judicial and securitization measures of control are the pillars of the Canadian system of control. A tension therefore arises on how to address contested lifeworld views of land and sovereignty. The first has its philosophical roots in the inherent right to land and resources and self-determination flowing from the Creator and not government. Whereas settler-colonial liberal-capitalist democracy upholds sovereignty and land rights through the law and legislative and policy instruments. This situation implies that Indigenous and settler lifeworlds are “not only different, but different in kind” (Mills 2016). Through an analytical framework of reconciliation, ethical space and Nth-eyed seeing, my paper will offer a decolonial alternative to the liberalizing of Indigenous inherent rights. I argue the Wet’suwet’en lifeworld does not resist hegemonic epistemological and ontological conditions, rather it is a method of change and resilience that permits diverse legal, epistemological, and political spaces to co-exist. It recognizes the pluriverse wherein many truths and worldviews can share space without one being righter than the others. My research question asks: In what ways can a decolonial praxis of Nth-eyed seeing, reconciliation, and ethical space position “ways of co-existing” differently to re-conceptualize Wet’suwet’en and settler lifeworld views of land and sovereignty concerning resource development on Indigenous land?


Social Mobilization: A Key to Sustainable Development

Shoaib Sultan Khan
National Rural Support Network

Historically, development policy has been preoccupied with modernization and industrialization, at the expense of poverty alleviation. Globalization has exacerbated the situation leading to gross inequities. Any policy framework must make social mobilization of the poor central in order to be effective. The state, despite significant capital investments, has not cultivated the requisite relationships with grassroots stakeholders (either through planning or validation of 'development deliverables') which are requisite for success. Good governance and effective welfare state functions need to be supported by four pillars – administration, politics and local governance. The missing pillar is the social/socio-economic which if fostered, would see the household level engaged by state apparatus – ideally an institutional mechanism with the resources of the state and flexibility of civil society, such as the Rural Support Program. This presentation outlines an agenda for action which looks at institution building, community mobilization and opportunities for engagement and service delivery collaboration. Social mobilization involves organization, human development and capital formation. The process of engagement has generated plans, scorecards and investment at the local/micro level which in the case of the PRSN, has generated lessons and replicated models across South Asia. Details around score card communication, outreach, social auditing and capacity building are discussed.


Decolonization as transformation from Patronage to Partnership

Fayyaz Baqir
University of Ottawa

Nation State was the most important tool created by colonial powers for subjugate the native populations and colonizing the native mind. Colonial rulers created fear and awe in the minds of natives to sustain their pillage. Colonial ‘Nation State’ was different from the Nation State in the West in one critical way; it performed revenue collection, policing and national security functions but abandoned the welfare and human development functions to a large extent. Colonial State restricted ‘development work’ to commodification of economy and market development and control. It curtailed or eliminated the welfare function carried out by local communities and delegated the job of public works and infrastructure development, and service delivery to local Chiefs who were vested with hereditary authority by the Colonizers and carried out ‘development’ functions by commanding unpaid labour from their subjects. Post Colonial State carried out ‘development functions’ though a system of patronage based on use of discretionary authority, ‘confidentiality’ of government records and provision of services to the community as ‘a privilege not a right’. This sowed the seed of deep distrust between the state and the people and laid the foundation for a predatory and elitist development practice. The biggest challenge facing the professionals working in the communities was to make a transition from patronage to partnership, from fear and mistrust to collaboration and accountability, from secrecy to transparency and from asking for handouts to claim their due share in progress and growth. This transformation took place through the art and science of linking with the ‘other’. My presentation will be based on receiving access to water by the use of this linking strategy employed by a community leader in a small town in Pakistan.


Date: Wednesday, 02/June/2021
12:30pm - 2:00pm3.2.2: North/South relations and inequities
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Liam Swiss
Technical chair: Liam Swiss
Room 2 

North-South Asymmetries: Intellectual Property, Technology Transfers, and the Human Right to Health

Harry Deng

Balsillie School of International Affairs, Canada

Informed by the modernization theory of Rostow, Milikan, and Rosenstein-Rodan, development as a form of post-WWII world-making deepened the structural divide between Global North and the Global South. One of the areas was the campaign to mesh technology transfer within the global intellectual property regime (IPR). This effort eventually came into force in 1995 when the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) took effect. While there were international and regional efforts to harmonize intellectual property laws prior to TRIPS, the protection of intellectual property rights varied significantly amongst countries – some decolonized countries had kept their old Acts and Ordinances from the colonial era while others had laws in place that peeved developed countries by explicitly refusing to grant patents to things like medical technologies. As such, TRIPS was the effort to reshape the laws of these countries and to secure the benefits of intellectual property ownership on a global scale for purposes of rent transfers from the Global South to the Global North. While human rights have posed a powerful challenge to TRIPS, there is a cruel and absurd irony of using human rights as the arbitrator between two legitimate human rights claims: from the creator who has the human rights claim to their invention and from the user who has the human rights to enjoy the advancements of science. Moreover, even with all the flexibilities built within TRIPS and bolstered by the 2001 Doha Declaration on Public Health, such as compulsory licensing, developing countries have never been able to take full advantage of them and these flexibilities are slowly tightening. Lastly, the proliferation of generic pharmaceuticals industries in places like India that have supplied essential medicines to the global poor are becoming unsuitable for this role.

Heroes of the Developing World? Emerging Powers in WTO Agriculture Negotiations and Dispute Settlement

Kristen Hopewell

University of British Columbia, Canada

Amid contemporary power shifts in the global political economy, a major question is what impact the rise of emerging powers, such as China, India and Brazil, is having on the rest of the developing world. The rhetoric of the emerging powers heavily emphasizes South-South solidarity, cooperation and shared struggle against the traditional dominance of the Global North in global economic governance. But are developing countries as a whole being empowered by the rise of new powers from the Global South? This article contributes to this debate by analyzing important recent developments in WTO negotiations and dispute settlement on agriculture. Agriculture has been a key issue of North-South struggle at the WTO, and it is one in which the emerging powers have portrayed themselves as leaders of the developing world, defending and promoting the interests of the Global South and crusading to make the multilateral trading system fairer and more responsive to the needs of developing countries and their farmers. I focus on three cases – the cotton dispute, subsidies and public stockholding – that have been at the center of WTO activity on agriculture since the collapse of the Doha Round in 2011. Drawing on these three cases, I show that despite presenting themselves as champions of the developing world, the emerging powers have been advancing their own interests, often at the expense of other developing countries.

How Colonial Discourse Distorts Anti-‘Development’ as “Conversion” Attempts

Clara Joseph

University of Calgary, Canada

Whether investigating a link between religious affiliation and economic growth (Offutt; Picker; Bowyer), or assessing the study of religion in development studies (Deneulin and Rakodi), or raising some questions about secularism as the norm for development studies (Carbonnier; Levy), scholars hark to the role of religion and the religious in modifying the terms of development. According to Gilles Carbonnier, “The lack of attention to religion and faith in development research and policy … stands in stark contrast to the paramount role played by religion.” In this spirit, my paper will introduce the case of a Catholic nun, Sr. Rani Maria, who worked among the poor and the exploited in the city of Indore in India and was murdered for “converting” Hindus. The nun had a Master’s degree in Social Work and was working among an extremely underprivileged indigenous (“tribal”) community and, as sources say, helping them to be self-reliant in the face of modern feudal lords and their thugs. Her assassin, however, testified that he had murdered her for trying to convert the tribal population. This conflict or conflation of commerce and conversion, economics and religion, and its rendering in online and print media have received very little attention in Religion and Development Studies. When the concerned religion is Christianity, the problem tends to fall into the colonial equation of Christianity in India as colonial and of Indian Christians as colonial converts. Sr. Rani Maria, however, came from a community of pre-colonial Christians who claim a tradition that goes back to the mission of the Apostle Thomas in India. My paper will, therefore, investigate the discourse of “conversion” as a colonial legacy and propose the need to re-assess the place of Christianity in India in order to fully understand the link between religious conflict and the role of “development.”

Inequitable Ruptures, Rupturing Inequity: Theorizing COVID-19 and racial injustice impacts on International Service Learning

Jessica A Vorstermans1, Katie MacDonald2

1York University, Canada; 2Concordia University, Canada

COVID-19 has presented a time of rupture; a moment wherein we have witnessed increased mainstream attention to racial inequity, alongside a deepening of existing inequities along other axes of identity including gender, nationality, disability and class. We are proposing that we collectively take seriously these ruptures as a starting point for re-imagining social learning; specifically in the context of service learning and learning that happens in the context of development work. We are using three ruptures as moments for imagining - and doing – otherwise: (i) Black Lives Matter and persistent racial inequity, (ii) class inequity exacerbated under COVID-19 both locally and internationally, (iii) mutual aid as increasingly necessary in a pandemic and as a possible relational way forward. These ruptures intersect and inform each other and we do imagine them as porous and complex.

We want to think about these intersecting moments of rupture as both a space for possibility as the pandemic and new orientations to travel might break down international service learning (ISL) completely, but also because these ruptures disturb the idea that ISL is in itself a harmonious or reciprocal practice.

We want to think through the deep inequities and reproduction of colonial relationships of power that structure ISL experiences in, but not exclusively, the Global South and ways this moment can create lasting ruptures in these reproductions.

2:30pm - 4:00pm3.3.2: Indigenous Struggles and Futures
Location: Room 2
Session Chair: Alisa Greenwood Nguyen
Session Chair: Clothilde Parent-Chartier
Room 2 

Indigenous Peoples’ right to consent to resource extraction in Canada and South Africa: What is the role of law in struggles to decolonize development?

Daniel L Huizenga

University of Toronto, Canada

In 2020 two struggles against imposed extractive development were unfolding in parallel: the Wet’suwet’en First Nation in Northern British Columbia, Canada, and the Xolobeni community in the Eastern Cape, South Africa. Both communities had previously celebrated significant legal victories in their respective struggles for their right to self-determination and self-determined development. The Wet’suwet’en First Nation were successful in the landmark 1997 Delgamuukw Supreme Court judgment, while the Xolobeni community won the ‘right to say no’ in the Pretoria High Court in 2018. Yet both communities continue to document the forms of colonial violence they are subjected to. What is the role of law in the struggle to decolonize development? Can litigation be used to elevate local visions of development futures? What kinds of legal and colonial violence are reproduced in these struggles? This paper draws on a research project documenting the role of local struggles in the emergence of the ‘right to consent’ to resource extraction. This cross-contextual comparison is based on empirical research conducted in South Africa and desk-based research in Canada.

A Failure to Respond: National Sport Organizations and the TRC

Yasmin Rajwani1, Audrey R. Giles2, Shawn Forde2

1School of International Development and Global Studies, University of Ottawa; 2School of Human Kinetics, University of Ottawa

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s 2015 Calls to Action identified societal measures necessary for a successful reconciliation process between Indigenous peoples and settlers in Canada, five of which were specific to sport. Half a decade after the Calls to Action were published, the response by national sport organizations (NSOs) in Canada has escaped scholarly attention. Through a lens informed by settler colonial studies, we employed summative content analysis to examine the ways in which – if at all – NSOs in Canada have implemented relevant Calls to Action. Our results indicate a lack of response, which we argue is settler silence, by most NSOs.

Le développement du tourisme atikamekw : vers un processus d’autochtonisation au Québec ?

Alexandre Veilleux1, Julie McClatchie2

1Université de Montréal, Canada; 2Université du Québec à Montréal, Canada

Les traces du colonialisme au Québec laissent actuellement les peuples autochtones aux prises avec des enjeux socio-économiques et territoriaux imposant des limitations face à l’autodétermination et la reprise identitaire. La Commission des droits de la personne du Québec souligne ce retard économique important, un sous-financement accru du gouvernement et une prédominance des enjeux territoriaux de dépossession des ressources par des acteurs allochtones. Face à ces enjeux, les acteurs autochtones développent des stratégies s'inscrivant dans un processus d’autochtonisation de l’État québécois. Celui-ci « exige de procéder à la transformation des structures institutionnelles existantes, des processus économiques et politiques dominants » (Salée, 2005, p.71) et d’assurer que ceux-ci « soient directement impliqué dans cette dynamique de transformation » (Bacon, 2020, p.7). L’une des stratégies employées par la communauté atikamekw est le développement touristique dû à son potentiel de freiner le retard de développement économique tout en permettant une prise en charge territoriale caractérisée par une protection accrue du territoire.

En s’intéressant au lien entre les stratégies de développement touristiques autochtones et le processus d’autochtonisation de l’État québécois, nous démontrons la pertinence de la production d’un capitalisme autochtone caractérisé par une forte représentativité économique ainsi qu’une conservation des valeurs propres menant à une réappropriation de la dimension économique par les peuples autochtones (Bunten, 2010). Ceux-ci s’assurent d’une autodétermination accrue dans le tourisme, d’une légitimation des identités et de la possession d’un espace protégé, tout en diminuant les écarts socio-économiques entre autochtones et allochtones. En tant que chercheurs allochtones, cet article se positionne à la jonction des courants postcoloniaux et décoloniaux, et relève de savoirs situés autochtones et québécois. La méthodologie est basée sur une revue de la littérature secondaire et grise s’intéressant au processus d’autochtonisation et au concept de capitalisme autochtone, et y combine une analyse de documents primaires des plans d’autogestion atikamekw.

Remoteness Myth and Power in Energy Extraction Frontiers

Ana Watson, Conny Davidsen

University of Calgary, Canada

Extractive frontiers are routinely situated in, or constructed as, ‘remote’ and ‘underdeveloped’ areas. From a political ecology perspective, this paper examines ‘remoteness’ as strategic concepts of land and access control. Past research has already examined how environmental impact assessments have contributed to colonization and the roll-out of capitalism in indigenous territories, producing a passive acquiescence of extraction projects. However, narratives of remote environments –and pristine nature-- also have ambivalent roles as they simultaneously enable extraction and contestation of traditional central elites and colonial practices. Peru’s Camisea project in the Upper Amazon is the oldest, largest and most influential liquid natural gas project in the country and has turned Peru into one of Latin America’s top LNG exporters. For decades, local indigenous communities in Camisea have been facing corporate, territorial, and institutional shifts of power in favor of transnational energy companies and national revenue interests. Camisea has been praised as exemplary for its environmental and social strategy to keep the extraction area ‘remote’ through an off-shore inland extraction approach that aims to minimize its local infrastructural footprint in the rainforest. However, the designed remoteness has propelled the Camisea company into an exclusive gatekeeper position for its remote Amazon logistics, exacerbating local asymmetries of power. Isolated from outside road systems, Camisea industry operations hold exclusive ownership and control over the infrastructures that connect indigenous communities to the outside world, under a narrative of avoiding environmental and social impacts. Drawing on qualitive analysis and an extensive document analysis, this paper scrutinizes Camisea as a case study to better understand how remoteness narratives can simultaneously enable and constrain natural gas extraction vis-à-vis indigenous rights in Amazonia.


Date: Thursday, 03/June/2021
12:30pm - 2:00pm4.2.2: The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience
Location: Room 2
Technical chair: Adrian Murray
Room 2 

Chair(s): Carmen Ho (Assistant Professor at the Guelph Institute for Development Studies), Andréanne Martel (Inter-Council Network For International Cooperation (ICN) and Alberta Council for Global Cooperation (ACGC), Canada)

This panel aims to understand how Canadian small and medium organizations (SMOs) in particular have experienced the Covid-19 pandemic. In addition to understanding the challenges SMOs face in relation to financial loss and their ability to implement their programs, we will showcase their strategies and practices in response to the pandemic. While SMOs may experience unique vulnerabilities, they also have unique adaptation strategies and forms of resilience.

The pandemic offered an opportunity to transform practices between Canadian SMOs and their partners overseas. It may have accelerated the localization process by transforming the way Canadian organizations collaborate and their relationships.

This panel brings together researchers and practitioners involved in a collaborative study undertaken during the first few months of the pandemic. Findings from this SMO study will be published in a report in March 2021, and this panel will be an opportunity to discuss the findings with those who commissioned, conducted and participated in it. A researcher who has previously studied Canadian SMOs will also be invited to comment on the findings form an external standpoint.


Presentations of the Symposium


The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience

Andrea Paras
University of Guelph

Andrea Paras was the Primary Investigator on a University of Guelph study that surveyed 151 Canadian NGOs to investigate the early impacts of the pandemic on Canada’s international development sector. She led the research for the study that is the focus of this roundtable discussion.


Pivoting to Adapt to a Rapid Changing Context: Canadian SMOs' Resilience and Learning

Andréanne Martel

A. Martel is leading Spur Change which is a capacity building and knowledge sharing program to support Canadian Small and medium organizations (SMOs) working in global cooperation. In early March 2020, Spur Change published a report on Canadian SMOs’ capacity needs and knowledge gaps. When COVID19 hit a few days after launching this report, Martel gathered together over 100 Canadian SMOs in early April to discuss how COVID was affecting them. Since then, she and her team collaborate with Canadian SMOs on a daily basis to support them while they pivot to adapt to the pandemic. Her team commissioned the study on The Impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic on Canadian SMO Adaptation and Resilience (SMO study report) which is being discussed during this panel.


How Feminist Principles Guided Pandemic Responses

Rachel Barr

VIDEA is a Canadian SMO located in British Columbia, which applies a human rights and social justice lens in its work with Indigenous youth and communities in Canada and abroad. VIDEA participated in the SMO study, and R. Barr will discuss how VIDEA’s feminist principles have guided its pandemic response.



Brian Tomlinson
AidWatch Canada

B. Tomlinson works since many years on issues related to Canadian and global aid priorities as well as global trends in the development effectiveness of civil society organizations (CSOs). For the past few years, B. Tomlinson has been working on areas of aid and development policies at the global level, Canadian international climate finance with C4D, as well as on shrinking civic space issues with international CSO allies. In 2016, he published one of the very few studies on SMOs crucial role in international development and public engagement across Canada. His report, commissioned by the ICN, influenced the creation of the Spur Change program. As part of this panel, B Tomlinson will provide comments on the findings of the SMO study report.

2:30pm - 4:00pm4.3.2: Open
Location: Room 2
Room 2 

Date: Friday, 04/June/2021
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.

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.

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.