Development Studies Association 2019 Conference: Opening up Development

Event Information

The Open University
Milton Keynes
United Kingdom
End Date

The DSA's annual conference in 2019 will take place at the Open University, which celebrates its 50th birthday that year. The conference will focus centrally on "Opening up Development", while also encompassing the broad range of development studies interests. As with DSA2018, we will have sessions for early career scholars - including on publishing and an ECR plenary; as well as assisting participants from the Global South to attend.


50 years of openness
The Development Studies Association annual conference for 2019 will be hosted by the Open University in partnership with British Overseas NGOs for Development, or BOND. In 2019 the Open University will be 50 years old. In the late 1960s it blazed a trail for widening access to higher education underpinned by a strong social justice mission. Today, the OU still stands for ‘openness’ in terms of people, places, methods and ideas, and it is this theme that will frame the DSA’s annual conference.

What does ‘opening up development’ mean?
‘Opening up development’ draws attention to shifts in the global political economy; new forms of development intervention and activism; and the call to ‘de-colonise’ the teaching and learning of development studies. Austerity is hemming in peoples and governments in some parts of the world, while other areas experience unprecedented growth. Globalisation has generated greater flows of finance and trade, and alongside inequality and conflict have caused people to leave their homes. This mobility is set against authoritarian populism that is closing down political space. These changes urge us to rethink the challenges of maintaining open and critical societies and inclusive economies. Meeting the challenge will require new and innovative thinking, involving knowledge-producing actors outside of academia as well as non-traditional academic voices. It also means developing innovative forms of knowledge production and exchange between development research, development practice, political activism, and the arts.  The conference will therefore mix conventional panels with open conferencing events that will seek to stimulate thinking and engagement in new ways and reach people unable to be present in person.

Global development? How do new geographies of prosperity, poverty and inequality open up new questions and territories for development studies? What impact is austerity having on foreign aid? What does it mean for where development needs to happen; should development – like charity – begin at home? Should those global corporations controlling increasing amounts of ‘big data’ be opened to public scrutiny and public control? Can we push for more plural, genuinely global perspectives that move beyond Euro-American provincialisation?

Populism and political action
What do new forms of authoritarian populism imply for the potential for openness in development? What are the implications of their closing down of democratic and civic space? What new forms of activism arise in response to these regimes, and how do they (re)draw the boundaries around entitlement? How are ICTs and social media shaping how this politics is enacted? How do increasing demands for rights and inclusion open up questions about how development is (and should be) managed, and by whom?

Cross-national flows of goods, finance and people
How are contradictory dynamics towards free trade and protectionism opening up new imaginaries of development? How might understandings of migration and refugee movements in their places of origin, journeys, and ultimate new homes, contribute to opening up development?  Can the closing of borders be reconciled with the need to be open to cultural and other differences amongst people and ideas? How do we recognise the rights of stateless people? Can we reduce the use of tax havens, to release private wealth to serve public wellbeing?