Application Invited for Winter School on ‘Development, Democracy and Conflict’

Department of Sociology

South Asian University

New Delhi


Interdisciplinary Winter School on

Development, Democracy and Conflict

(26 November – 1st December, 2018)


As large parts of the world are being controlled by authoritarian populist regimes with little regard for democratic norms and no space for intellectual dissent, the slogan of development remains a key plank of political practise for these regimes. What does development imply for such political projects and how different is its understanding compared to earlier welfarist notions? The main objective of the winter school will be to unpack the idea of present-day development, embedded as it is, within a framework of neoliberal globalisation. In doing so, two specific aspects of the development question for the global South will be taken up. The first is the complex relationship of development with conflicts over nature and natural resources that have been a defining feature of contemporary capitalism. The second relates to the scope of democracy in both its actual and ideational dimensions in furthering the goal of substantive development. Based on the deliberations on the issues outlined, the workshop will conclude with its own vision of a radical agenda for development – an agenda that is grounded in the present global realities but not restricted by the pro-establishment status quo.

The discussions will be conducted with a global perspective but will also draw on issues specific to the South Asian region. We welcome prospective applicants from academia, development professionals as well critical independent scholars who are interested in interrogating the idea of development in conjunction with the evolving nature of global capitalism. A variety of communication tools will be used including introductory lectures from the resource persons, group discussions, films and audio materials as well as ‘deep reading’ of pivotal texts. Informal discussion within participants will also be encouraged taking advantage of the residential character of the winter school.

The workshop will be structured along the following themes:

  1. Meaning of Development in a Neoliberal World: What is the scope and promise of the development project in times of neoliberal globalisation? What is the potential of state, market and community in delivering development?   What are the potential contributions of postcolonial and decolonial perspectives on development for contemporary notions of emancipatory change?
  2. Capitalism, Nature and Resource Conflict in the Global South: There have been debates on the characteristics of contemporary capitalism and how they relate to the way resources are accessed, distributed or appropriated. Within this context, struggles over resource control in the face of so-called primitive accumulation have become increasingly prevalent. To what extent can we understand these struggles through the prism of ‘environmental justice movements’? How do their ecological concerns fit with demands pertaining not only to race, gender and ethnicity but also class? How can we theorize resource conflicts and accumulation regimes in a way that does not treat nature as an afterthought?
  3. Democracy, Citizenship and Right to Development: The discourses of rights and justice have become central in the development discourse. Issues of citizenship have cropped up along with that of entitlements. How can one understand these issues when state, law, development and politics are enmeshed in an unprecedented manner?
  4. The Nexus of Capitalism, Conflict and Democracy in South Asia: Democracy has altered itself along with the idea of development as well and both in turn have been affected by the on-going conflict around resource control and use. The interrelationship between conflict and democracy in the background of the larger capitalist accumulation process will be problematized in this module.
  5. Towards a Radical Development Paradigm: The limitations and contradictions with the dominant development paradigms that are in place currently force us to think of alternatives. How can one imagine a radical development paradigm that resolves the key contradictions identified with the current models? The aim will be to concretise the basic elements of such a vision of development while avoiding the pitfalls of idle utopianism.



Each participant will have to prepare a short paper of about 3000 words on a topic related to the ideas discussed in the workshop. On the last day of the workshop, participants have to present the key ideas of their paper in a 15 minute long presentation. Based on the comments received after the presentation from the resource persons, a final draft of the paper has to be submitted within 15 days of the conclusion of the Winter School. This will be a strict deadline and the final reimbursements of expenses/issuance of certificates to participants will be cleared only on receipt of the paper.


Application Process:

Interested applicants must apply by 22nd August, 2018 with (1) A copy of their CV and (2) a two page note explaining how this winter school relates to their intellectual interests and their present work. The selection committee will evaluate each applicant’s suitability for the Winter School based on their background and their statement of interest.

All applications to be electronically sent at

Those selected for the programme will be informed by mid-September, 2018. At the time of confirming his or her participation for the programme, each selected individual will have to sign a note agreeing to submit the 3000 word paper within 15 days of completion of the workshop. The travel reimbursement/issuance of certificates will be made by the organizers only on receipt of the paper. The outstation participants will be eligible for a reimbursement of upto Rs.2500/- fulfilling the administrative/academic requirements of the programme.

Email id:

Contact: Ragini Pant (9871731052) for any clarification

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