IGDC Annual Lecture
IGDC is delighted to be joined by Professor Uma Kothari for this year’s IGDC Annual Lecture, where Professor Kothari will explain why conceiving of the past as irrelevant has had devastating consequences for justice.
Situating development historically is fraught with tensions and challenges yet essential to achieving social justice and to right the wrongs of the past. The lure of amnesia, temporal distancing and limited historical analysis has meant that mainstream development discourse has been largely silent about its colonial past while simultaneously privileging the future. This has effectively swept away the ample evidence that present day development is founded upon relations, perceptions, and attitudes of empire. Additionally, the future orientation of development, most profoundly exemplified through the imperative to achieve goals and targets, closes off options to address past injustices. This lecture considers these different development temporalities in light of the problems they create for thinking about decoloniality and justice. Indeed, I argue that conceiving of the past as irrelevant has devastating consequences for our concerns for justice. I will go on to show how decolonising development demands consideration of the past that goes beyond the symbolic to perform the critical, material work of redistribution. In this context, I offer ways to redress inequalities reproduced today as the past continues to push unfinished into the present and to unfold new radical, progressive insights. I will consider both the repatriation of appropriated material resources, and the power of stories to identify how those formerly colonised confront their entanglement in processes through which they have become defined and confined.
The lecture will be followed by a drinks reception in the Environment Foyer.
About the speaker
Uma Kothari is Professor of Migration and Postcolonial Studies at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester, UK and Honorary Professor of Human Geography, School of Geography, University of Melbourne, Australia. Her research interests include colonialism, decoloniality and solidarity, mobilities and borders and, environmental change and island geographies. She has recently completed a project on Seafarers: a cultural geography of maritime mobilities and is currently carrying out research on Environmental change and everyday life on small Island states funded through grants from the ARC and ESRC. She has curated numerous photographic exhibitions based on these research projects. She is the Vice President of the European Association of Development Institutes, is on the advisory board of In Place of War, a support system for community artistic, creative and cultural organisations in places of conflict and, is a founding member of the Storying Geography Collective. She is a Fellow of the UK Academy of Social Sciences and was conferred the Royal Geographical Society’s Busk Medal for her contributions to research in support of global development. She has recently been awarded a Leverhulme Major Research Fellowship (2022 – 2025) for a project on ‘Touring Britain in the 1950s: the adventures of postcolonial travellers’.