Decolonising Online Development Studies? Emancipatory Aspirations and Critical Reflections: A Case Study

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Abstract

Academics in high-income countries are increasingly launching development studies programmes through online distance learning to engage practitioner-students in low-income countries. Are such initiatives providing opportunities to critically tackle social injustice, or merely ‘mirroring’ relations of global inequality and re-entrenching imperial practices? Building on recent scholarship addressing efforts to ‘decolonise development studies’ and the complex power dynamics they encounter, we reflect on this question by analysing experiences of faculty and students in a United Kingdom-based online development studies programme, focusing particularly on perspectives of development practitioner-students working from Africa. We discuss barriers to social inclusivity – including the politics of language – that shaped participation dynamics in the programme as well as debates regarding critical development course content, rethinking possibilities for bridging counter-hegemonic development scholarship with practice-oriented approaches in a range of social contexts. Our analysis unpacks key tensions in addressing intertwined institutional and pedagogic dilemmas for an agenda towards decolonising online development studies, positioning decolonisation as a necessarily unsettling and contested process that calls for greater self-reflexivity.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)270 - 290
JournalThird World Quarterly
Volume38
Issue number2
Early online date22 Dec 2016
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2017

Keywords

  • decolonization
  • critical development studies
  • ; international development pedagogy
  • globalization and online distance education
  • e-learning
  • power and hegemony

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