Development Days 27.2-1.3.2019 – Call for abstracts

Development Days 2019: Repositioning global development: changing actors, geographies and ontologies

27.2-1.3.2019, House of Science and Letters (Tieteidentalo), Helsinki, Finland Organizer: Finnish Society for Development Research

Among some of the most pressing global problems today are: i) the widening social inequalities within and between countries; ii) environmental pollution, ecological crises and conflicts over land and other resources; iii) migration, and the rise of extremism and populism; and iv) technological change contributing to increased risks to personal security and safety. While these issues are of complex origins, they are linked to globalization and the dominant global development model, in which corporate and individualistic interests stand above social and environmental ones, and logics, values and interests of Western countries stand above those of other countries. The magnitude of the crises linked to these global problems have led some academics, and some politicians to rethink their political and economic strategies and agendas. At the same time, recent years have witnessed simultaneous trends of weakening of established global economic and political leadership on the one hand, and the emergence of new economic powers on the other. This has led to the ascent of new actors in the global development arena, most notably China, India and Brazil. They and many others are rapidly emerging from what the conventional economic model had labelled as ‘disadvantaged’ parts of the world, and are increasingly playing a key role in development processes worldwide.

The crossroads at which humanity stands today requires a shift in development logics and
paradigm. In this conference, we will discuss alternative development strategies and the role of emerging actors in development across multiple scales. Contributions from various
disciplines, including human geography, environmental politics, development studies,
sociology and institutional economics are called upon to discuss themes and questions, such as: 1. To what extent do global power shifts entail possibilities for more democratic—or conversely, more authoritarian—global governance? 2. What are the potentials of development and cooperation programmes in which problems and solutions emerge from geographical, societal, and gender-based margins? 3. Can we expect more socially and environmentally just, equality-laden and economically viable futures in the context of shifting geographies of Development?

The conference will serve as a platform to share research findings and experiences, as well as to develop new ideas and strategies for shifting development narratives and agendas, for re-connecting actors from different scales, and critically examining and redefining the meanings and logics of development. We welcome development scholars from a plurality of disciplines and critical theories, as well as practitioners from a broad range of professional backgrounds to explore ways to engage in progressive debates of building bridges between actors, scales, movements and societies at multiple levels and beyond global-local binaries.

Call for abstracts for Development Days 2019 Conference is now open!

We invite you to join us in Helsinki, for Development Days 2019 Conference Repositioning global development: changing actors, geographies and ontologies, to take place on 27.2-1.3.2019. Join and contribute to a critical academic and practitioner exchange on new trends, promises, pitfalls and alternatives in development-related research.

You can submit your abstracts directly to one of the proposed working groups, by contacting their chairs. The abstracts of 300-350 words should be submitted by 31 December 2018, directly to chairs of the working group/s of your choice. In case of doubts concerning the selection of working group/s, please submit your abstract to the chair of the organising committee, Sabaheta Ramcilovik-Suominen (sabaheta.ramcilovik- suominen(at) and she will try to assign it to the fitting working group or event.

The working groups address a range of themes including decoloniality, transformations in social movements, social organisations, research and education, to name a few. In addition to working groups, the conference includes Master and Doctoral workshops, as well as a civil society event; offering a variety of opportunities for you to engage and present your research, to learn about other research in the field, and to strengthen your network.


We are very pleased to announce our keynote speakers for the Development Days 2019 conference: Giles MohanAshish Kothari and Rosalba Icaza Garza.

Conference Schedule:

  • 31.10. 2018: Deadline for session proposals
  • 15.11. 2018: Call for paper/presentation abstracts
  • 31.12.2018: Deadline for paper/presentation abstract submissions
  • 15.01.2019. Notifications of accepted papers /presentation abstracts (by WG Chairs)
  • 1.1.-20.2.2019: Registration for the conference open
  • 27.2. 2019: Pre-Conference Workshops for Master’s and PhD students
  • 28.2-1.3.2019. Development Days Conference.


Guest lecture on 11.12.2018

Marcos Pedlowski gives a guest lecture on 11.12.2018:

Tue 11.12.2018: The Brazilian Amazon and the prospects of explosive deforestation after the 2018 presidential elections

The Brazilian Amazon is considered as one of the largest containers of global biodiversity. However, since the early 1960s the region is facing an increased process of perturbation through a combination of outright deforestation for agriculture expansion and different forms of degradation by loggers and miners. After a decade of relatively low rates of deforestation, the Brazilian Amazon is facing an increase in rates of deforestation and forest degradation, mostly because of the expansion of soybeans and sugarcane plantations, cattle raising, mining, logging, and the construction of large hydroelectric plants. The recent election of Mr. Jair Bolsonaro, a vocal opponent of conservation efforts and to the Paris Climate Agreement, will probably increase the pressure on the Brazilian Amazon and the indigenous people living there. Mr. Bolsonaro has already announced that he will dramatically downsize the Ministry of the Environment and place the environmental protection agencies at the Ministry of Agriculture. This move, if confirmed, will increase the prospects of an exponential increase in deforestation in the Brazilian Amazon. This outcome would certainly contribute to weaken the efforts to diminish the pace of climate change.

Time and place: 14:00 – 16:00, Metsätalo, lecture hall 2 (B212), Unioninkatu 40

Dr. Marcos Pedlowski holds a BS in Geography from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (1986), and MSC in Geography from Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro (1990) and a PhD degree in Environmental Design And Planning from Virginia Tech (1997). Since 1998 he has been an associate professor at the Centro de Ciências do Homem in the Universidade Estadual do Norte Fluminense in Brazil. Dr. Pedlowski’s interests involve a wide array of topics linked to geographical studies and his research projects focus on the following subjects: land reform, land cover and land use changes; policies of environmental conservation, and urban studies. More information: and Dr. Pedlowski is a visiting research in Development Studies in the Faculty of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki in December 2018.

Seminar: Lessons from the margin: Indigenous Peace Ecology. Prof. Alberto Gomes, Monday 19.11 at 13:00-15:00

Welcome to the Helsus-Development Studies Seminar:

Lessons from the margin: Indigenous Peace Ecology

– Prof. Alberto Gomes, La Trobe University (AU) and DEEP Network


Monday 19th November at 13:00-15:00

Helsus Hub Lounge (Porthania, 2nd floor) or streamed online


Humanity is confronted with several inter-related crises: ecological, social or humanitarian and growing violence, both direct and structural. Much evidence indicates that solutions implemented to resolve them, from development and modernisation to neoliberalism and sustainable development, have not just failed but paradoxically have exacerbated these crises. Inspired by the life-ways and practices of Indigenous peoples, especially the Orang Asli (Aborigines) in Malaysia, this paper outlines a peace ecology that combines peacebuilding with ecological regenerative strategies. The key contention is that subscribing to an Indigenous peace ecology will foster effective solutions to the triple crisis, entailing a paradigmatic shift from an anthropocentric to an eco-centric perception of nature; from hyper-individualism to a community-focus responsibility; from a competitive outlook to one that is focused on empathy, cooperation, sharing and altruism; and from a growth-fetish to a needs-based regenerative lifestyle.

Alberto Gomes is an Emeritus Professor at La Trobe University, Australia, Affiliated Professor at Universitat Jaume 1, Spain, and Global Director of the Dialogue, Empathic Engagement and Peacebuilding (DEEP) Network ( Well known for his scholarly work on the Orang Asli (Malaysian Aborigines), he has published numerous articles and several books. His books include Modernity and Identity: Asian Illustrations (edited volume, La Trobe University Press, 1994), Malaysia and the Original People (with R. Dentan, K. Endicott, and M. B. Hooker, Allyn and Bacon, 1997), Looking for Money (COAC and Trans Pacific Press, 2004), Modernity and Malaysia: Settling the Menraq Forest Nomads (Routledge, 2007) and Multiethnic Malaysia (edited with Lim Teck Ghee and Azly Rahman, USCI and SIRD, 2009).


13:00 Introduction           Paola Minoia, Senior Lecturer, Development Studies

13:15 Presentation          Alberto Gomes

14:00 Discussants:         Karen Heikkilä, Geography

Timo Kaartinen, Professor, Anthropology

14:20 Q&As


Symposium on Contemporary Slavery with Kevin Bales on 8 November – CANCELLED

The Discipline of Development Studies of the University of Helsinki cordially invites you to attend a public symposium on contemporary slavery. The symposium begins with a Public Lecture by Professor Kevin Bales on ‘“Unlocking the Science of Slavery”.

Kevin Bales is Professor of Contemporary Slavery in the School of Politics & International Relations, Nottingham University, UK, and Co-Founder of the NGO Free the Slaves, the US Sister organization of Anti-Slavery International. Bales’ book Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy published in 1999, was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize, and has now been published in ten other languages. Archbishop Desmond Tutu called it “a well-researched, scholarly and deeply disturbing expose of modern slavery”. In 2008 Kevin Bales was invited to address the Summit of Nobel Peace Laureates in Paris, and to join in the planning of the 2009 Clinton Global Initiative. In 2006 his work was named one of the top “100 World-Changing Discoveries” by the Association of British Universities. The documentary based on his work, which he co-wrote, Slavery: A Global Investigation, won the Peabody Award for 2000 and two Emmy Awards in 2002. He was awarded the Laura Smith Davenport Human Rights Award in 2005; the Judith Sargeant Murray Award for Human Rights in 2004; and the Human Rights Award of the University of Alberta in 2003, and in 2007 his book, Ending Slavery, won the 2011 $100,000 Grawemeyer Award for Ideas Promoting World Order. Bales was awarded a Doctorate of Humane Letters, Honoris Causa, by Loyola University Chicago, in 2010, and a Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa University of Nottingham, 2015. More about Professor Bales can be found here: []

The programme begins at 2pm sharp. After a brief introduction, Professor Bales will give a public lecture, followed by a 45-minute panel discussion, with panelists Terhi Tafari, senior adviser, National Assistance System for Victims of Trafficking, Venla Roth, Senior Officer, Office of the National Rapporteur on Trafficking in Human Beings/ Non-Discrimination Ombudsman, and Anniina Jokinen, an expert on trafficking who worked at the Task force on trafficking in human beings at the Council of the Baltic Sea States and is now with The European Institute for Crime Prevention and Control. University of Helsinki Professor Barry Gills will chair the event and introduce Professor Bales, whose lecture will provide the global context for the subsequent panel discussion centred on the problem of modern slavery in Finland.

This event is particularly timely and important because, contrary to common perceptions, slavery did not end in the 19th century. It is estimated that contemporary slavery harms more than 40 million people around the world and, although widespread, the prevalence of modern slavery in modern Finland is not well understood.

All are cordially invited without any need for registration!

Additional Details:
Date: November 8, 2018
Venue: Tiedekulma/Think Corner, 2nd floor, Yliopistonkatu 4,
Time: 2-4pm
Refreshments: Organic Coffee and Fair Trade Tea will be served from 16:00 to 16:45.




Direct all enquiries to Professor Barry Gills (

Organising Committee:
Barry Gills, Mira Käkӧnen, Franklin Obeng-Odoom, Eija Ranta, and Anna Salmivaara.

Description of the Discipline

Development Studies

Development Studies at the University of Helsinki offers an interdisciplinary space, fostering an open and democratic learning culture, where different viewpoints are respected and encouraged. Our academic community seeks an openness to other stories, disciplines and points of view, trying to understand the paradigmatic and methodologically different ‘other’. Therefore, we offer no “hegemonic” or exclusive school of thought on development, but rather promote a heterogeneous combination of thematic, theoretical and methodological approaches.  Development Studies is like a home, with a shared sense of community and commitment, in which there are different rooms, where researchers and students are free to choose from different theoretical and methodological positions and (ex)change between them. Our scholars combine different theoretical, methodological, and analytical lenses to interpret cultural, political, economic, environmental, and social change, with a view to understanding and explaining complex processes of societal transformations, occurring within and across a combination of scales, from local to global, analysed from the perspectives of historical as well as contemporary contexts.

Because of the profound influence of the idea of “development” in both historical and contemporary engagements between the Global North and Global South, the critical study of the construction of meanings of this core concept and the resulting multiple interventions and policies constitute a central feature of the field. The contemporary boundaries of development, both conceptually and geographically, are fluid, dynamic, and contested. Development Studies critically analyses development and the practices of “developmentalism” as a complex of interests, discourses and actions, wherein people, movements, local struggles, everyday lives and concrete situations are studied alongside “official”  development policy and practice and development cooperation.

Traditionally, development studies as a field of teaching and research has had a focus on studying the ‘problems’ of developing nations. Along the way, the focus expanded to consider the relationships between “developed” and “developing” societies, and the roles played by various institutions and structures existing within and between them, and the effects these relations have on processes of social, economic, political, and environmental change.  Today, critical perspectives in development studies have emerged that attempt to engage with non-Western ontologies, and with literature and other sources of knowledge referring to diverse epistemologies, with the aim to transcend the previous limitations of dominant Eurocentric constructions of development, and to recognize not only the definitions devised and promoted by the Global North, but also those being produced and practiced by the Global South. Recent scholarship increasingly emphasizes the importance of studying global processes and relations, including the diverse trajectories and movements of the Global South, the mechanisms of economic growth, as well as the processes that produce and reproduce global poverty and inequality, the unequal relations of power, domination and exploitation, and processes of environmental degradation and “sustainable” alternatives. The impact of global economic, political and social forces, and the processes of “global development”, seemingly now connect us all, but they also lead to different outcomes for a range of peoples and groups.  “Globalisation” and “Global Governance” have thus entered into the Development Studies lexicon, in part to conceptualize but also to provide a sense of order for consequential complex processes and relationships.  Whether these attempts have been successful is a matter of recurrent debate.

It is a characteristic of Development Studies that it offers a space for normative, moral, and value concerns, and an opportunity for critical self-reflection on ethical issues and the politics of representation. “Development” itself is an inherently normative concept and deals with fundamental philosophical and practical questions of what constitutes the “Good Life”. It is, thus, common for researchers and students in Development Studies to be motivated by deeply held concerns for social justice, human and more-than-human solidarity, and mutual respect between diverse peoples and cultures, and to reflect these concerns in their research and academic debates. A critical analytical approach to the study of power relations is, therefore, an important part of the field, as are aspirations for human liberation, solidarity, acts of resistance, and diverse praxes of social transformation.  This orientation entails focusing on people’s “everyday” experiences and their own definitions and understandings of development, as well as the overarching political economy and political ecology of development. Different actors, at multiple scales, and with different degrees of authority and power, all seek to (re)formulate, (re)interpret, (re)negotiate, and contest the existing ideologies and structures that shape development processes in the world today. These social struggles, and the alternatives in thought and action that they produce, are very much a part of our approach to Development Studies, and our understanding of how people think and act in the world. Ultimately, “Development” is about a set of beliefs and assumptions about the nature of social progress, our perceptions of the world which model reality, as much as it is about observable socio-economic endeavour.  Distinguishing the “Myth(s) of Development” from the complex realities is one of the greatest analytical challenges we face.

Our Development Studies community at the University of Helsinki seeks to face these many challenges.  We aim to provide researchers and students with a supportive community and academic space which encourage thought-provoking insights into the highly complex and dynamic processes of social transformation occurring throughout the world today. We are committed to offering our researchers and students a mutually supportive and inspiring environment that provides a wide theoretical and thematic curriculum, fostering independent, critical, and forward-looking thinking on development, and enhancing a set of analytical and practical skills to equip them to comprehensively grapple with development in both its conceptual and practical dimensions.

 (This text is a compilation of reflections on “What is Development Studies” prepared by the staff and students of Development Studies at the University of Helsinki, last modified in September 2018)


Seminar: Naive Monarchism and Rural Resistance in Contemporary Russia, 16 October 2018

Welcome to listen to a lecture by Dr. Natalia Mamonova on 16 October 2018, at 12.15-13.45, Metsätalo (Unioninkatu 40), sali 12


This study applies the concept of “naive monarchism” (i.e., the traditional peasant expressions of reverence for the tsar as their benefactor) to study contemporary rural politics in authoritarian Russia. While Russia is not a monarchy, and its rural dwellers are not traditional illiterate peasants, the veneration of its leader manifests itself in many rural grievances. I analyse three types of rural politics that have traits of naive monarchism: written petitions to the president, rural pickets and delegations to the Kremlin, and geographical renaming in honour of Vladimir Putin. Grievances, voiced in this way, are rarely subjects of repression from above, as they reinforce presidential authority and the existing order. This raises the question of whether rural dwellers faithfully believe in a benevolent president or intentionally exploit their subordinate position and Putin’s image as the present-day tsar. Whether sincere or strategic, these rural politics aim to enforce the existing state commitments. Although they are unable to challenge the status quo, they provide rural dwellers with a means to remedy occasional local injustices.

Natalia Mamonova is a Research fellow at the Russia and Eurasia Programme of The Swedish Institute of International Affairs & Affiliated researcher at the Institute for Russian and Eurasian Studies of Uppsala University, Sweden. She will be a visiting researcher in Development Studies at the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Helsinki during October 2018.

Seminar: Development challenges in Bhutan – 9.10.2018

The Development Studies programs of the University of Jyväskylä and the University of Helsinki cordially invite you to:

“Joy, Agony and Silence in Bhutan”

A seminar based on the book Development Challenges in Bhutan: Perspectives on Inequality and Gross National Happiness (Springer, 2017).

9 October 2018, Tuesday, 12:00 – 14:00

Room 1014, Unioninkatu 37, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Helsinki

Speaker and author:
Johannes Dragsbaek Schmidt, associate professor at the Department of Political Science, Aalborg University and senior expert at the Nordic Institute of Asian Studies, University of Copenhagen.

Päivi Ahonen, education specialist and PhD candidate at the University of Oulu completing a dissertation on ‘Strategies of Bhutan in Implementing the Gross National Happiness Policies’.

Aili Pyhälä, lecturer at the University of Helsinki and chair of the Finnish Society for Development Research.

About the book:
The book provides essential insights into Bhutan’s developmental challenges. It analyzes and scrutinizes the sovereign state’s developmental approach, including the idea of Gross National Happiness (GNH), which has replaced Gross National Product (GNP) as a measurement of prosperity. The authors also explore and deconstruct ideational and cultural aspects of knowledge production and present a critical overall assessment of the political economy of education policy, health, ICT and migration in Bhutan. The book is divided into five parts all taking a critical approach towards inequality: Part one offers an assessment of Bhutan’s developmental trajectories; part two deals with GNH, equality and inclusion versus exclusion; part three is devoted to culture, legal issues and the politics of change; and part four to governance and integration; section five addresses health, food and disparities.

Hosts and organizers:
– Eija Ranta, University of Helsinki (
– Outi Hakkarainen, Kepa (
– Bonn Juego, University of Jyväskylä (


Development Studies and PYAM Seminar: Uma Kothari 26.09.2018

Wednesday 26 September from 10-12 pm at Metsätalo, room 27

Encountering Europe Otherwise: On the road with postcolonial travellers

Uma Kothari

Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

Vice-Chancellors Fellow, School of Geography, University of Melbourne

With adventure, exploration and travel primarily conceived of as a Euro-American privilege, travellers in the past were identified as those who embarked on voyages motivated by imperial, educational and recreational imperatives. Empire tourism, a specific form of travel that emerged to enable western tourists to experience the landscapes and people written about by earlier travellers, subsequently fueled the production of colonial imaginaries about other people and places. These travel stories, along with academic accounts, have entrenched highly Eurocentric theories about tourism and travel. Drawing on an extended road trip from England to India undertaken by two non-European, Indian travellers in the 1950s this paper challenges this privileging of western tourists and dominant narratives of travel. It highlights the entangled relationships and connections that generated the encounters, experiences and understandings that emerged during their journey. The swirl of larger events and processes that conditioned their travel routes testify to a different era of globalisation in which distinctive connections were being sought and wrought while others were diminishing. As such, their trip, which took place in a specific geo-political and decolonising context, illuminates shifting colonial imaginaries and the forging of new postcolonial networks and their story foregrounds the neglect of non-western forms of mobility.

Uma Kothari is Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies in the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester. She is the co-founder of the Manchester Migration Lab and is currently Vice-Chancellor’s Fellow at the University of Melbourne. She is the principal investigator on an ESRC funded project on Environmental Violence and Everyday Lives and her current work includes research on Visual Solidarity and Everyday Humanitarianism and A Cultural History of the Mission to Seafarers. She has published numerous articles and her books include Participation: the new tyranny?,  Development Theory and Practice: critical perspectives, and A Radical History of Development Studies. She is co-editor of the Frontiers of Development book series published by Oxford University Press and is the Vice President of the European Association of Development. She is on the advisory board of In Place of War, a support system for community artistic, creative and cultural organisations in places of conflict and a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences. She was conferred the Royal Geographical Society’s Busk Medal for her contributions to research on global development.

Contact: Paola Minoia (

Book launch: Power, Indigenous Leaderships and Governance in Latin America – Tue 18.09


Tuesday 18 September at 15:00-16:30

Think Lounge, Think Corner 2nd floor, Yliopistonkatu 4

Discussion event on the recently published books “Vivir Bien as an Alternative to Neoliberal Globalization” (Routledge, 2018) and “Indigenous Perceptions and Changing Forms of Leadership in Amazonia” (Colorado University Press, 2017). The books are presented by Eija Ranta (Development Studies) and Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen (Indigenous Studies), with Lucas Artur Manchineri from Brazilian Amazonia (Manchineri community). We invite you to discuss, how Indigenous governance is realized and what types of leaderships have emerged in Latin America.

Refreshments and wine will be offered.


Keskustelu vallasta, alkuperäiskansojen johtajuuksista ja hallintatavoista Latinalaisessa Amerikassa

Ti 18.9. klo 15–16:30
Think Lounge, Tiedekulma 2 krs., Yliopistonkatu 4

Kirjojen “Vivir Bien as an Alternative to Neoliberal Globalization” (Routledge, 2018) ja “Indigenous Perceptions and Changing Forms of Leadership in Amazonia” (Colorado University Press, 2017) keskustelutilaisuus. Kirjoista kertovat Eija Ranta (kehitysmaatutkimus) sekä Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen (alkuperäiskansatutkimus). Mukana keskustelussa myös Lucas Artur Manchineri Brasilian Amazonialta. Tule keskustelemaan miten alkuperäiskansojen hallintatavat toteutuvat tai näkyvät Latinalaisessa Amerikassa ja millaisia uusia johtajuuksia siellä on noussut.