Arturo Escobar

Development @ 70: New Life or Gracious Exit?

After seven decades of development should we look at other approaches to improve people’s lives? Watch famous anthropologist Arturo Escobar discuss this in our #KAPTalks.

Friday 23.09.2016

As the era of development nears its seventh decade, and in the context of a much changed world since its inception, it warrants posing the question of whether development studies can be infused with new life, or whether we should instead actively wish for its tactful but steady evanescence. After reviewing some of the landmarks of development theory according to its three main paradigms (liberal, Marxist, and poststructuralist theories), this presentation discusses current debates on post-development, with special attention to the emergence of trends centered on Buen Vivir, autonomy, and a re-conceptualization of the communal in Latin America, particularly in the context of territorial struggles against extractivism. The last section presents some work in progress by the author on the interrelation between design, (post)development, and civilizational transitions.

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Arturo Escobar is a Colombian-American anthropologist and the Kenan Distinguished Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. His academic research interests include political ecology, anthropology of development, social movements, anti-globalization movements, and post-development theory. Trained initially in science and engineering, he became concerned towards the end of his undergraduate degree with questions of hunger and development. He has an interdisciplinary PhD in Development Philosophy, Policy and Planning from the University of California at Berkeley and has taught throughout the US, South America, and Western Europe. He has published many academic works and co-edited a number of volumes of social movements, women and place, the World Social Forum, and globalization and the decolonial option. The work with activists of the Proceso de Comunidades Negras (PCN), a network of Afro-Colombian organizations, has been since 1993 one of his most important sources of inspiration on questions of activism, environment, culture and development.

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