The politics of decolonizing development

Rosalba Icaza Garza, RV Rolando Vazquez

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This contribution is concerned with a politics of decolonising development that foregrounds knowing and delinking as central, but not unique to this task. The question of decolonising development is oriented towards a decolonial politics of dignity that does not recognize development as its horizon of realization. Our point of departure is that the notion of development cannot be separated from the history of western modernity. Development has functioned at one and the same time as representation and articulation of the modern/colonial divide. The division between the human and the savage, between civilization and nature, linger behind the notion of development.
From our point of view, development belongs to the epistemic tradition of the West that has arrogated to itself the authority to classify the diversity of the earth as nature and the diversity of peoples of the world as “others”. In other words: development belongs to a eurocentric and anthropocentric epistemology whose identity as the geographical center and historical now of humanity depended on the externalization of earth and the peoples of the world as otherness.
Development as an expression of this genealogy of an anthropocentric eurocentrism has functioned as a mediation that marks the border between today’s standard of humanity: the consumer and alterity; the poor, the dispossessed and earth. We want to explore the notion of development precisely in its function in articulating the separation between the consumer and the lives of the peoples and earth that are being incorporated, dispossessed, extracted and consumed. In doing so, we ask the following: can the notion of development respond to the possibility of an ethical life that is not structurally implicated with the suffering and the consumption of life of Earth and others? What does it mean to decolonize development?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHandbook on the Politics of International Development (Elgar Handbooks in Development)
EditorsDiana Tusie
Place of PublicationNorthampton, MA
PublisherEdward Elgar Publishing
Number of pages12
ISBN (Electronic)978 1 83910 191 5
ISBN (Print)978 1 83910 190 8
Publication statusPublished - 27 May 2022

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