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SP19 - New rhythms of development – or “Déjà vu all over again, again”?

Convened by Kei Otsuki (University of Utrecht, The Netherlands)

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In 2002, in a chapter of a book Participating in Development: Approaches to Indigenous Knowledge (Sillitoe et al. eds, Routledge), an anthropologist Roy Ellen writes that ‘there is no alternative… there can be no retreat from indigenous knowledge’ when we talk about development (p.256). Because we, development scholars, especially with anthropology, sociology, or critical geography backgrounds, had been all too aware that scientific knowledge often imposed to promote ‘development’ caused irreversible destruction of knowledge and practice that had in fact sustained environments and livelihoods in ‘developing’ contexts. The question was then: how do we constructively critique development by making thorough investigations on various bodies of knowledge that shape contexts of new intervention? Twenty years later, we are yet facing the same question. What is new at this time is that the world had gone far more environmentally conscious under climate and related energy crises, and this consciousness had recreated the context in which scientific knowledge for innovation to decarbonize the world and to equal development with ‘transition’ is more superior than indigenous knowledge, which had been relegated to the alternative, instead of non-alternative to main development as proclaimed twenty years ago. In this panel, I want to discuss this paradox by asking questions such as: how does green economy come to justify developmentalist agenda? Where has the agenda for indigenous knowledge been placed in major development agenda such as SDGs? What are the new vocabularies we need to seek for in order to reverse current developmentalist sustainability-transition trend?