This is a time of critical re-thinking about the nature and meaning of Development. Contemporary challenges such as climate change, global food crises, growing populations, widespread environmental degradation, geo-political instability and concerns over energy management have heightened uncertainty around – and contestation over – the future. In October 2015, the United Nations unveiled the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a set of ambitious, much-discussed goals that follow on the heels of the prior Millennium Development Goals (2005–2015). According to the website, the SDGs “converge with the post 2015 development agenda.” This raises the question: what is the post-2015 development agenda, who is included and how are the boundaries constructed?
Notwithstanding the billions of dollars, thousands of consultants and considerable institutional infrastructure, development work raises as many questions as it answers. Thinking of development as a policy, a set of objectives, groups of people, or a national and international set of goals, raises old and new questions of inequality, social change, colonialism, war, rights, environmental degradation, distribution, and more. To address the questions of what is development, what or who is to be developed and why, Cornell University is hosting a conference on “Development in Question” to be held October on the Cornell campus in Ithaca, NY. The conference organizers invite papers that think critically and creatively about contradictions, challenges and opportunities within the concept and practice of development. Contributions that engage in original ways both empirically and theoretically with key ideas, practices and categories of Development at different or multiple scales will be privileged.
Throughout the conference, there will be keynote plenary talks or panels on the following topics:
The 2015 Sustainable Development Goals: Sustaining what, whom and why?
Doing Development: The international community, national state and emerging actors
The Tools of Development: Definitions, measurement and (e)valuation
Development in Movement: From migration to refugees, the demographics of development
Marketing Development: Commodity chains, global trade and the commodification of
In addition to the plenary sessions, the conference will consist of parallel paper sessions on a wide range of topics. We welcome abstracts from all scholars, including academics, activists, organizers and policy-makers. The following themes will guide the selection of abstracts although we are open to all work on Development, particularly from a sociological perspective:
• Development, Conflict and War
• Trade Flows and Illicit Economies
• Doing Development Differently: Activists, Policy and Academics
• Pedagogies of Development
• South-South Development: Genealogies and Implications
• Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)
• Social movements and mobilization
• Gender, race and ethnicity in the new development era
• Climate Change and the Nature of Development
• Infrastructure and Extractive Development
• Knowledge, Expertise and Power
• Precarity and the Politics of Poverty
• Migration, Mobility and Environmental Change
• Urban infrastructure and lives