The Critical Development Network is a group of predominantly Australia-based scholars and students concerned with the varied constructions of power in practices of development. We are interested in uncovering, understanding and contesting the neoliberal and colonising logics of development practice and studies. We contest the instrumentalisation of research, and are concerned with core questions regarding the nature of development and development studies, while also being supportive of genuine innovations that advance alternative understandings and practices of well-being.
The power relationships we seek to understand and change take many shapes and forms, both material (particularly through the effects of global capitalism) and (inter)-subjective. They occur on many registers, from the personal, to communal, national, regional and/or global. They can engender (often unintended) negative effects in immediate and concrete terms, but also – importantly – through the production and reproduction of power inequalities.
We also recognise that people of the global South are not passive victims of development. Scholars in the network are concerned with supporting alternative understandings and practices of wellbeing. We are interested in exploring the forms of creativity, resistance and refusal that emerge in the global South despite the forms of oppression and domination associated with development.
By ‘global South’, we mean those places and people who have been historically excluded from, and whose exclusion and exploitation has produced, the prosperity and power of other people and places. These are the peoples and places that are most often the subjects of ‘development’. In practice this includes certain regions – particularly in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Pacific – as well as certain communities within the geographic locus of the global North, notably indigenous peoples in settler states.
Key questions guiding the work of this network include:
• What and whose ontologies and epistemologies underpin development practices?
• What strategies can effectively contest and resist the neoliberal and colonising effects of development practices?
• What is the role of academic research in sustaining and interrupting problematic development practices, as well as supporting alternative understandings and practices of wellbeing?
• How can we contest the power dynamics of the production and reproduction of knowledge? How can we modify existing research methodologies and/or generate new ones to facilitate more meaningful research partnerships?