Institutions and Development in Portuguese Speaking Countries

Development is a complex process. With varying definitions, it is often a contradictory process, sometimes with reversal of fortunes and certainly not consensual across groups. On top of this, academics, policymakers and practitioners discuss the reasons for (under)development and look for what policy works and under which conditions. In doing so, institutions have been a broad umbrella to understand challenges to development, with different theories and strands. In short, context matters and general trends need to be researched deeper for each case.

Portuguese-speaking countries, in spite of different positions in the mainstream development spectrum, have traditionally been considered lagging behind relatively to their peers. This applies to the African, American, Asian and European continents. Often, their common institutional background has been identified as one of the reasons for their underachievement and underdevelopment. However, Portuguese-speaking countries have also been under-researched in scientific literature in English and, in particular, in Development Studies.

This working group intends to address this gap. It addresses these inherently interdisciplinary issues by researching Portuguese-speaking countries’ impairments to development and the nuances that should be present in the narrative. To do so, it gathers contributions from area studies, anthropology, demography, economics, gender studies, political science, public administration, social policy, sociology to inform the development studies debate. It actively promotes the inclusion of different views to counter limitations imposed by history and power relations such as coloniser/colonised, Global South/North, among others.

The Core Topics of the Working Group

Focusing on its geographical area of interest, this working group will study the institutional challenges and the development sphere in several topics, namely the following:

  • Society: Citizenship, civil society, gender and identities
  • Economy: Economic development, industrialization and growth
  • Well-Being: Food security, education, labour and social protection
  • Local: Environment, and regional and urban development
  • National: Governance, political institutions, public administration and memory

The Aim of the Working Group

This working group aims at becoming a forum for understanding the development (or the lack of it) in Portuguese Speaking Countries and to identify the nuances that should be present in the development narrative. To do so, it plans to bring together academics, but also policymakers, and practitioners, acknowledging different types of knowledge. Where possible, the working group will try to conciliate problem-solving and critical thinking approaches and identify a common agenda, but admitting that different worldviews are frequent and desirable.

Current project

Amílcar Cabral, a towering figure in the fight against colonialism, continues to be an influential reference for the study of contemporary Africa. His emphasis on grassroots empowerment, education, and the intersectionality of global challenges underscores his forward-thinking approach, making Cabral a timeless icon in the quest for human rights and self-determination.

The forthcoming celebration of Amílcar Cabral's centenary serves as an opportune moment to reflect on his enduring legacy. Cadernos de Estudos Africanos plans to release a special issue in December 2024, centered on Amílcar Cabral. As guest editors (Carlos Lopes; Aurora Almada; Pedro Goulart) we welcome submissions on various facets of Amílcar Cabral.

In the post-colonial realm, Cabral's ideas shape ongoing discussions on identity and governance in the aftermath of colonialism. Simultaneously, the iconic dimension reflects the sustained scholarly interest in Cabral's figure, particularly by academics from the Global South, highlighting the enduring relevance of his contributions to post-colonial studies, political theory, and social movements.”