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27 November 2018
One of the reasons I was drawn to development studies was the focus on conducting fieldwork in developing countries. The interdisciplinary nature of international development/development studies means that researchers have more freedom to depart from the restrictive paradigms of disciplines, where dominant theories are largely based on research in Western societies.
The colonial heritage of development studies often turns people off and makes them revert to the comfort of their disciplines. But many early career scholars from developing countries (including me) found an intellectual home in the field precisely because of the opportunity to focus our research in countries outside the West.
The Hallsworth Research Fellowship is a three-year postdoctoral fellowship at The University of Manchester, loosely focused on political economy. The Hallsworth is designed to provide postdoctoral researchers with the opportunity to develop an independent research project. It is among the very few scholarships, available in the United Kingdom, that are heavily research-focused and provide a large amount of freedom.
I have used my Hallsworth to begin a comparative study of the politics of the Rwandan and Ethiopian development experiences over the past two decades. This builds on my research in Rwanda over the last decade. Luckily, the Effective States and Inclusive Development Research centre has also provided additional research funding for my Hallsworth project and an additional research project on the History and Politics of Diversified Business Groups in Kenya, Tanzania and Nigeria.
During ESID’s first phase, I was part of the economic growth team that worked on the Deals and Development book, edited by Kunal Sen, Lant Pritchett and Eric Werker. I worked with Tom Goodfellow on the Rwandan case. Our chapter departed from existing narratives on Rwanda’s growth story to show that, though the Rwandan Patriotic Front may have led the country through a period of ‘miracle’ growth, there has been limited structural transformation. We had two main conclusions. The first is that the high degree of openness in the deals space in Rwanda has resulted in poorly coordinated economic development without sufficient enforcement capability of the state to discipline firms (against many of the narratives of the Rwandan government’s effectiveness). The second is that the growth remains highly dependent on and vulnerable to open competition, which has resulted in unpredictable and inconsistent government behaviour in some cases.
I’m quite proud of the scale of fieldwork I’ve done in Rwanda since 2011. That’s over 570 interviews across different stints of research over the last eight years. Of course, there is still a lot to do!
I think the time I’ve spent in Rwanda, interviewing my respondents, has really taught me a lot. It was pretty incredible to have the chance to interview so many people who were so committed to delivering development, despite the many challenges they faced in achieving those goals.
It has been really great to work at GDI. It is an exciting and vibrant environment with a lot going on. What’s really special about GDI is the kind of mentorship that the Institute provides to help you improve your work and develop an independent research career. Senior scholars are very serious about their commitment to providing early career scholars with opportunities. That is a rare and pretty special thing.
I’m still pretty new to Manchester, so I’m still discovering new things here. But if I’m not working, you’ll usually find me exploring the Northern Quarter. A new, cool Ramen place just opened. But they haven’t paid me to advertise … (yet).
Read Pritish’s most recent research for ESID on coffee production and global value chains in Rwanda here.
Follow Pritish on twitter @pritishbehuria
12 November 2018
The 6th ESID Annual Adrian Leftwich Memorial Lecture was a fascinating one on how the West got China wrong. Award-winning expert on China, Professor Yuen Yuen Ang, argues that China has developed as a political hybrid – an autocracy with democratic characteristics. It’s time to go beyond the dichotomy of autocracy versus democracy. Read her summary here and listen to the lecture in full here:
7 November 2018
Head of the Relational Poverty Network and Professor of Geography at The University of Washington, Seattle, Prof Lawson speaks about the urgent need to re-imagine and re-politicise poverty. Listen to her inspiring lecture here.
31 October 2018
For decades, Western observers expected that as China’s economy liberalises and prospers, it would eventually and inescapably become a democracy. Yet, by 2018, such hopes were all but dashed, particularly when Chinese President Xi Jinping ended constitutional term limits on his presidency. This move set off alarm bells. The Economist dedicated a whole issue to “How the West Got China Wrong.” But the magazine doesn’t actually explain “how”. What it expresses is panic and befuddlement, garnished with impassioned pleas to contain China’s rise. Its real title should be “Yikes, the West Got China Wrong!”
So how did the West really get China wrong? Was it wrong to expect that increased prosperity will bring about democratisation, as modernisation theorists like Ronald Inglehart have long argued? Does China demonstrate that it is possible to achieve economic liberalisation and growth without political reforms, therefore rendering its development model a fundamental threat to liberal democratic values? Continue Reading →
18 October 2018
The Effective States and Inclusive Development workshop: “Rethinking social justice and the public realm: what can relational approaches offer?” is at the University of Manchester on Thu-Fri 1st-2nd November 2018. The public plenary lecture will be given by Victoria Lawson (University of Washington, Seattle) on the subject of “Reimagining Poverty Action by Repoliticizing Poverty”. Thursday 1st November, 16.30-18.00, room G7 in Humanities Bridgeford Street building– all welcome.
‘Global inequalities’ is one of the University of Manchester’s research beacons. How can academic research into inequalities improve our understanding; how can it help to inform policy and activism; and how can it be critical and morally engaged, while also being rigorous and high quality? That last question has particularly been on my mind recently in light of a rising tide of sceptical critiques of academic work on social justice. Continue Reading →