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The making and unmaking of development: using Post-Development as a tool in teaching development studies


  • Wendy Harcourt


This article explores the ways in which western modernity, as Boaventura De Sousa Santos suggests, can play tricks on intellectuals when we try to teach revolutionary ideas in reactionary institutions. I reflect on my efforts to use Post-Development (PD) as a tool to engage students in critical reflections on development in a post graduate course in 2015/2016. One of their assignments was to create an International Institute of Social Studies (ISS) Development Dictionary emulating the Sachs’s collection. The results were mixed. On the one hand, they produced wonderful digital collations of concepts, ideas and critiques, but on the other hand, many felt that learning about PD had turned their world upside down. Given the strong reactions of the students, and also my colleagues, I reflect on the possibilities and also the problems of using PD as a tool to teach development studies to international students (most of whom are from the Global South). My experiment in asking students to engage in their own ‘unmaking of development’ recorded in their evaluations, a series of interviews, and my own and other colleagues’ reflections sets out the difficulty of unsettling apparent truths of development processes even in progressive institutes at the interface of activism and academe.

Suggested Citation

  • Wendy Harcourt, 2017. "The making and unmaking of development: using Post-Development as a tool in teaching development studies," Third World Quarterly, Taylor & Francis Journals, vol. 38(12), pages 2703-2718, December.
  • Handle: RePEc:taf:ctwqxx:v:38:y:2017:i:12:p:2703-2718
    DOI: 10.1080/01436597.2017.1315300

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