Theory, policy and practice perspectives from Royal Holloway

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Geographical Perspectives on “Development” – Where are we going?


While a summer school beginning in October sounds a bit implausible in the UK, Bonn just about managed to find enough sun to justify the title of its conference!

The University of Bonn was host to the Human Geography summer school 2016, Geographical Perspectives on “Development”. Bonn itself is a green, bike friendly city located along the River Rhine and host to the headquarters of UN agencies, German development agencies, and key international NGOs. Introducing the conference, Professor Detlef Müller-Mahn challenged participants to consider what they themselves mean by “development” through reflecting on theoretical orientations and personal positionality. Questions posed included what do we mean by development, what approaches can be used to generate meaningful results and how research in this field can be conducted in both a critical and constructive way. Through this lens workshops ranged from ‘Politicising global chain governance’ to ‘Manoeuvring challenging research contexts’ and ‘Community owned solutions for sustainability challenges’ run by Royal Holloway’s own Professor Jay Mistry.

In the workshop “Theorizing, researching and (re)politicizing “economic” “entanglements” in the Global South”, participants were challenged to pin the tail on the research and locate yourself between the four points of economic, development, social and other geographies; or if brave enough in the slightly less certain lands that lay outside! Not as simple as it may sound, the exercise provided a means to reflect on where participants feel their research stands and what academic understandings they draw on when conducting research (see Vira and James, 2011 as to what happens when you try to cross economic and development geography). Further discussions on “economic” “entanglements” led to participants problematizing what are Continue reading


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Modernisation in Delhi: Development or Destruction?

Delhi, a bustling metropolis with a population of approximately 18 million, is chasing a modernisation dream. Spearheaded by the Delhi Development Authority, a state body that aims to “promote and secure the development of Delhi”, a number of highways, transport systems, shopping malls, hotels and luxury apartments have been constructed. These developments, which resonate with the large-scale modernisation projects of the 1950s and 1960s, are perhaps best exemplified by the Delhi Metro system. This is an urban metro that connects Delhi to a number of satellite towns (e.g. Gurgaon and Faridabad), much like the London Underground and Overground services. Since construction began in 1998 the system has expanded to a length of approximately 190 km and it currently serves 142 stations. This makes it the fifteenth largest metro system in the world, in terms of length, Continue reading

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Policy and Practice in Gender & Development: Early Career Researcher Perspectives

With the generous funding support of the Security and Sustainability research theme at Royal Holloway, University of London, we were able to convene a group of early career researchers on Wednesday 27 May 2015 to share insights into the policy and practice of gender and development in a variety of settings.

As the organisers for this event, we were eager to explore the gap between research, policy and practice in gender and development. The presenters offered thoughtful reflections and suggestions about how best this gap might be bridged. What follows are our perspectives about the most salient points of the day.

G & D workshop group

There were three presentations on very different themes that, for me, highlighted some common barriers to gender transformative change.

Firstly, Paola Piscitelli presented research on the practices of Mukheristas, informal cross border traders in Mozambique and South Africa. Her findings showed that even though 70% of Mukheristas are female, the organisation formed to champion their rights is run by men who do not address the challenges the traders encounter Continue reading