Scotland, Malawi and the post-development critique: an analysis of power and equality in international development

Wilson, Ben Robert Lamb (2019) Scotland, Malawi and the post-development critique: an analysis of power and equality in international development. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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The purpose of this thesis is to analyse contemporary efforts to make international development more equal, through the application of the post-development critique to the relationship between Scotland and Malawi. Post-development theorists posit that international development is a neo-colonial form of action that is premised on, and perpetuates, conceptual and material inequalities between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ countries. The Scotland and Malawi relationship is presented by its proponents as an example of a contemporary development practice that challenges these embedded inequalities, based on its people-to-people approach which emphasises mutuality, reciprocity and friendship between the two countries. This thesis therefore brings the post-development critique to this relationship to understand the enduring power inequalities in the contemporary development discourse.

An interpretivist qualitative methodology was utilised to explore the perceptions and practices of a variety of organisations and individuals working within the Scotland-Malawi relationship. These methods included semi-structured interviews, participant observation, textual analysis and focus groups. This included a longitudinal focus group study with student groups travelling from Scotland to Malawi before, during and after their trips, to analyse how young people's perceptions were shaped by the contemporary development discourse.

This research uncovered the precise ways that contemporary development discourse perpetuates power inequalities in development interactions. These inequalities are shown to be embedded in the colonial cross-national relationships that development relations are often based on, and through the process of othering of people in countries that receive aid. By deploying Bayart’s theory of extraversion, and applying this as an analytical tool, this thesis also offers a new way of understanding agency in post-development theory. Though this analysis, this thesis demonstrates the enduring value of the post-development critique as a means of understanding the dynamic and complex ways that power is negotiated in development. Ultimately, this thesis concludes that the development discourse requires unequal power relations in order to function, and efforts to challenge this from within the industry are unsuccessful.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Post-development, international development, dependency theory, development discourse, participation, Scotland, Scottish Government, Malawi, partnership, extraversion, Scotland Malawi Partnership, post-colonialism, David Livingstone, international volunteers, voluntourism.
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GN Anthropology
H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Colleges/Schools: College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Sociology Anthropology and Applied Social Sciences
Supervisor's Name: Smith, Dr. Andy and Kamete, Dr. Amin
Date of Award: 2019
Depositing User: Mr Ben Robert Lamb Wilson
Unique ID: glathesis:2019-74298
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 25 Jul 2019 13:45
Last Modified: 05 Mar 2020 21:08
Thesis DOI: 10.5525/gla.thesis.74298

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