Welcome to Development Studies Association
The Development Studies Association is the UK's learned society and professional body for academic teaching and research, policy and practice in the field of international development.
While the annual conference is a principal focus for the association, the DSA is active throughout the year through its many Study Groups. All those involved in development whether as teachers, researchers, consultants or practitioners, are welcome to join both the Study Groups and the DSA itself.
For all the DSA members' news visit our new set of News pages.
Thought for the Month
I hope you and your loved ones are safe and well.
In the development studies community, awareness of global connections is fundamental to who we are. Even so, it is hard to think of another time when this has been quite so present as it is now, when we have felt quite so keenly the shared predicament of our common humanity. The past couple of weeks I have had a number of phone calls from a friend in the village in Bangladesh where I did my PhD research, worried for me, because of the news she had heard of the virus in Europe. Today she called to say the village itself was in lockdown, with people told not to leave their houses, and police in the market place, closing down tea shops and beating people who refused to disperse.
Our shared vulnerability masks the very different ways in which a global pandemic is locally materialised. The impact ricochets through social fractures, as those of us with secure jobs, spacious houses, good nutrition and general health, and easy access to green space, can draw our privilege around us as like a blanket to insulate us from harm. For people with temporary and insecure work, living in cramped, insanitary and overcrowded conditions, where health care is scarce, unreliable and expensive, the prospects are very different.
What this pandemic makes clear is that – as Timothy Mitchell* stated back in 1990 – what is thinkable, possible, imaginable, or ‘rational’, is an effect of power, of a particular set of hegemonic relations. As these relations shift, so too does our sense of what is given, of what can be thought. This is grounds for hope, that the kinds of radical policies necessary to put people and planet at the centre of economics, are in fact possible, that there is after all scope to do things very differently. But the dial can also shift the other way. Governments are assuming unprecedented powers with respect to their citizens. Programmes of public investment now can easily become alibis for imposing austerity in the future. As a community, we need to find ways to support one another to keep open those progressive options, and resist the closure into tighter authoritarianism and deepening inequality.
I hope that DSA2020 will be an opportunity for us to share more of our thoughts on these things. The theme of ‘New Leadership for Global Challenges’ seems particularly apposite. While we will not be able to meet in person, we hope that in our first online conference we will be able to recreate that sense of a strong, vibrant community that we know from our face to face meetings. Please do keep an eye on the website for more information on registration and how the conference will work.
And above all, stay well and strong,
University of Bath
*Mitchell, Timothy (1990) 'Everyday Metaphors of Power.’ Theory and Society 19 (5): 545-578.