ASCL Seminar: Seeing Development Approaches and Narratives from the African Periphery, 1979-2023

This lecture by Prof. Peter Little (Emory University, USA) addresses the litany of different development approaches from the perspectives of marginal populations and geographies in rural Africa. Based on the author’s long-term research in eastern Africa, it uses the dual lenses of pastoralist communities and drylands to demonstrate how large-scale development paradigms interact and, in some cases, are shaped by local social and political dynamics. In doing so, the lecture argues that the periphery can be central to understandings of sustainable development and resilience. Over a period of several decades multiple development paradigms based on shared narratives and assumed understandings have been imposed in these regions both by international donor agencies and African governments, leading to contradictory and often unexpected outcomes. It shows how different interventions are interpreted and often shaped by local agency and politics, resulting in both negative and, in some cases, positive development results. The presentation concludes that in this contemporary period of increased global uncertainty, especially related to climate variability, much can be learned from the experiences of the periphery and its resilient populations and ecologies.

This event will be held physically in Leiden. For registrees who cannot travel to Leiden a link to an online platform will be sent one day before the start of the event.

Photo credits: Oxfam East Africa (via Wikimedia Commons).

Peter D. Little is the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Anthropology and Director of the Global Development Studies Program, Emory University, USA. He has conducted studies of political ecology, pastoralism, poverty and inequality, informal trade, contract farming, and development in Africa, especially Kenya, Somalia, and Ethiopia. Dr Little is the author of more than 100 journal articles/book chapters; five books, including 'Economic and Political Reform in Africa: Anthropological Perspectives' (Indiana), and 'Somalia: Economy without State' (Indiana/James Currey); and the co-editor of seven books, including 'Living under Contract: Contract Farming and Agrarian Transformation in sub-Saharan Africa' (with Michael Watts).


Date, time and location

05 October 2023
16.00 - 17.30
Pieter de la Courtgebouw / Faculty of Social Sciences, Wassenaarseweg 52, 2333 AK Leiden
Room 0.B13