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Universality and Development: What should be the focus of development studies and policy discussions?, 14 June 2024, Online

#EADI50 Roundtable for KAIDEC Conference 2024, 08:30 am UK time

Development Studies has always been specifically concerned with analysing socio-economic development in what are popularly considered‘developingcountries’. Binary categorisations of developing/developed, Global South/Global North have long been criticised by scholars from neighbouring disciplines and even some working within development studies. Structuralists made the case for distinguish between ‘developing’ and ‘developed’ countries on the basis of the subordinate position of ‘developing’ countries within the global political economy. Very few countries, most of which are in East Asia, have sustained economic transformation over the last 70 years and reduced the gap in income and other indicators with industrialised Western countries. On the other hand, recent ‘global development’ scholarship has made the case for more universalist framings of development, arguing that the differences between countries of the Global South and the Global North have blurred sufficiently far to make the binary meaningless, arguing instead that there are common problems faced across all societies.

The panel asks: What is the case for universalist positions for the study of development or alternatively, what is the salience of continuing to distinguish between the Global South or (late) developing and the Global North or developed countries? Additionally, in what ways should the study of development be focused on universal concerns while also recognising the continued salience of inequalities between the Global North and the Global South?


Sebeka Plaatjie, President South African Development Studies Association and University of South Africa (UNISA)

Nita Mishra, Department of Politics and Public Administration, University of Limerick, Ireland

Laura Camfield, Department of International Development, King’s College London

Pritish Behuria, Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK

Katja Bender, International Centre for Sustainable Development (IZNE), University of Applied Sciences Bonn-Rhein-Sieg, Germany 


Minah Kang, President KAIDEC and Ewha Womans University

Andy Sumner, EADI President and King’s College London

Background Readings:

Horner & Hulme:

Critiques: Ghosh:; Sumner:;


Other shorter critiques:

Wiegratz et al.:

Sud & Sanchez-Ancochea: 

IDS Global Development:

What's Wrong with Development Studies and How can we change it (Kvangraven, Stevano, Patel and Roy):