Post-graduate researcher training course on ”Intervention, local
politics and the state”:
Invitation to apply for a post-graduate researcher
training course on ”Intervention, local politics and the state”
Time: 14–16 August 2003 Place: University of Helsinki Biological Research Centre,
Participants: Registered Ph.D. candidates
in Development Studies or related fields
Ferguson (University of California, Irvine)
Christian Lund (Roskilde University Centre)
Jean-Pierre Olivier de Sardan (EHESS, Marseille)
K. Sivaramakrishnan (University of Washington,
Costs: Ph.D. candidates who are accepted
on the basis of their application and abstract can participate free of
charge (room and board, workshop materials, transportation from Helsinki
to Lammi). Travel costs to Helsinki are the participants' responsibility. Deadlines: Registration: 30 April Paper: 30 June Organizer: The Finnish Graduate School in Development
Studies (Devestu)/University of Helsinki, Institute of Development Studies
Development interventions, especially when targeting complex
and multiform social institutions at the local level, invariably have
unintended consequences. The deregulation of trade in agricultural produce
can unwittingly affect patterns of land use and ownership. Interventions
seeking to empower poor women can generate conflicts within and between
households. An important and little-studied unintended outcome of development
interventions is their consequences for local power relations, and spinning
off from this, for the way that citizens and states interact. Direct development
interventions typically occur in social arenas that are permeated by local
level politics, where 'politics' refers to something much, much broader
than party dynamics and electoral cycles. Indeed, development interventions
- and the resources they introduce into the social arena - often generate
a specific kind of politics characterised by 'donor interests,' 'disempowered
communities,' 'dysfunctional states' and a diverse gallery of entrepreneurial
brokers mediating among these various 'stakeholders.'
Contemporary studies of local social arenas emphasize their
'semi-autonomous' nature (S.F. Moore, C. Lund), implying that 'the state'
has little significance at this level. This premise is in reaction to
an earlier 'state-centric' view of post-colonial societies that reduced
social processes in general and politics in particular to the intentions
of state actors at every level. A 'society-centric' approach undoubtedly
allows for a much richer understanding of local dynamics. But it is not
unproblematic. First, are we to assume that '(local) society' is fully
self-regulated? Such autonomy is hard to imagine in the contemporary world.
Granted, local social order is rarely enforced in post-colonial situations
by the official bureaucratic structures of a Weberian state. Still, local
social behaviour is governed in ways that presume super-local regulation,
some form of 'government' that derives from authority 'elsewhere.' A society-centric
perspective may downplay, second, the importance of state-making (to invoke
Sivaramakrishnan's term) as a dimension of strategic action in local arenas.
'State-making,' in this connection, refers to interactions through which
actors incessantly negotiate the terms and mechanisms of social and political
regulation. Third, a society-centric view can overlook the dense and complex
interpenetration of 'state' and 'society' - what Akhil Gupta refers to
as the blurred boundaries of the state. A key theme of the workshop, then,
concerns the implications of development interventions for 'government'
and for 'politics' - both understood in very broad terms. How do interventions
affect the dynamics of regulation, the relationship between rulers and
ruled? How do interventions link 'sites' and 'layers' of power? What are
the implications of different sorts of interventions in different contexts
for the mechanisms through which social regulation - 'government' - is
exercised? How do interventions, and the institutional arrangements they
foment, affect political subjectivities, e.g., notions of political agency
and citizenship? The point then is to think hard about interventions and
power. Such thinking will undoubtedly involve a re-assessment of how we
define and operationalize central notions like state, government, society,
locality and politics.
Workshop principles and themes:
The guiding principle of this workshop is to expose Ph.D.
candidates working on issues related to interventions to the work of leading
scholars of development who have been instrumental in a non-normative
reconceptualization of the state. Part and parcel of this endeavour has
been a desire to analytically re-engage with politics in relation to development
intervention. For many, the interest in politics and state-making has
grown out of an empirical concern with development interventions. Several
of the guest lecturers have focused specifically on the politics of natural
resource management. For the most part, but not exclusively, this body
of scholarship has trained its sights on the dynamics of 'local' political
arenas. An important thread of discussion at Lammi is likely to coalesce
around the problem of the boundedness of local politics, in both an analytical
Themes that are likely to draw attention in workshop talks
and discussions include
1) The consequences of localized development interventions.
Presentations might discuss, for example, impacts on class formation,
accumulation strategies, political accountability, or the formation of
2) The social, political and environmental consequences of deregulationist
policies in localized arenas. For example, what happens to the state in
times of political devolution? How does the privatization of development,
and the deregulation and disinvestment of public sector enterprises affect
the emergence of new kinds of 'enterprising citizens'?
3) Competing forms of authority and normative systems in local arenas.
Analyses might focus, among many possible themes, on the relationship
between 'traditional' and 'modern' registers in political rhetoric and
action, or on what has been termed the 'outsourcing' of state authority
to vigilantes or privatized forms of coercive power.
4) The roles and functions of brokers and brokerage in state-society relations.
5) Civic activism and policy advocacy as forms of state-making. Papers
are invited on these and other topics related to the over-arching workshop
theme of 'Intervention, local politics and the state.'
Coursework at Lammi will involve lectures and more intimate
discussions of the participants' papers in small, thematic groups. The
focus of all activities is to support the participants' thesis projects.
In addition to the formal activities, the visiting scholars and other
resource people will be available for private discussions over coffee
and meals, during walks in the old-growth forests surrounding the research
station, or on the porch of the lake-side sauna.
Applying for the course
The course is open to anyone registered in a university-level
Ph.D. program in Development Studies or related discipline in any country.
Prospective participants should send an application including the following
information: . Programme/university department and year registered in
programme . Name(s) of supervisor(s) . Source of funding (if any) . Thesis
topic . Current situation and estimated date of completion of thesis .
Short abstract (<500 words) describing the paper that will be presented
at the course.
The deadline for applications is 30 April
2003 (Applicants will be informed of their acceptance by 15 May).
Finalized papers of 5 000 words or less must be submitted
by no later than 30 June 2003 for distribution to fellow participants
and course facilitators.
For more information contact workshop coordinator Jeremy