Power, Resistance, and Development in the Global South (NFU Panel)

Why should we be concerned with understanding the dynamics of power and resistance in the study of development? In short – because from its origins in the late colonial age until the present the way the direction – i.e. the actual trajectory of social change that we refer to as development – and the meaning – i.e. the discourses that shape our understanding of what development is and/or should be – of development have been and continue to be shaped by the dynamics of power and resistance between dominant and subaltern groups in and between localities, states, and institutions. The idea of development can be used to establish and enhance the power of dominant groups, and to shape developmental trajectories according to their interests. But conversely, it can also be mobilized to contest and challenge extant structures of power and the prevailing direction of developmental trajectories. These dynamics unfold on and across a range of spatial scale – from the terrain of geopolitics in the world-system, via the contentious politics of social movements at the level of nation states, to the everyday negotiations that take place in “development encounters” at the national level. This panel aims to bring together leading international scholars whose work investigates these dynamics over a three-year period in order to work towards conceptual perspectives through which to study power, resistance, and development and substantive and empirically grounded studies of these dynamics across the regions of the global South.


Hanne Haaland (University of Agder); Alf Gunvald Nilsen (University of Agder)