Welcome to the Center for the History of Global Development
The Center for the History of Global Development is a research focus established at the College of Liberal Arts at Shanghai University. Through conferences, workshops, publications and discussion panels, the Center seeks to contribute to interdisciplinary scholarly debates on the repercussions of “development” as a phenomenon which has shaped much of recent global history while remaining conceptually vague or contradictory.
"Development," in its most basic form, is understood as the idea that socio-economic conditions would and should improve and that specific policies should be employed to bring about such improvements. Beyond this core, development has been a highly contested concept, whose constructed character has repeatedly been emphasized. Critics point to international structures created in the name of “development” which have often reflected power inequalities and served the interests of those that put them in place. They also call attention to the continuing enormous economic inequalities between people in different parts of the world despite - or because of? - Decades of "development" efforts allegedly designed to mitigate such disparity. Meanwhile, other scholars identify perceived successes of "development," measured in social indicators such as life expectancy, falling infant mortality, gender equality or literacy, which contradicts a simplistic notion of continued failure.
These differences of perspectives are compounded by the fact that interpretations of what exactly constitutes “development” abound. A Western concept of modernization usually entailed a combination of mechanization, urbanization, secularization, a shift towards individualism, a growing provision with material goods and life at an accelerating pace. But the perceived shortcomings of this approach have given rise to a series of alternative concepts, including the basic needs approach, Amartya Sen's view of "development as freedom" or Herman Daly's insistence on "development" as a strictly qualitative notion, to be distinguished from economic growth.
This Center for the History of Global Development aims at addressing development in a comprehensive, multi-perspective manner. By engaging in projects that address various aspects of development from various angles, it tries to do justice to the ambivalent nature of a phenomenon which has been both so influential and elusive. It also seeks to contribute to a deeper understanding of the evolving and sometimes contradictory short- and long-term effects of different development strategies, questioning how the evaluation of outcomes changes with time but also with changing perspectives on who has been affected when and where.
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Social media links of the center:
Doing Health in Europe
The series of Contemporary European History, published by de Gruyter, Berlin, asks about the agency that has formed Europe during the last century (https://www.degruyter.com/serial/ceh-b/html?lang=en). Its focus is on the people who have shaped the continent through their work, their activism or simply through the ways they have organized their lives and on the processes these activities have spawned.
For more information, see here.
Call for Papers:
Integrating Histories of Development: the Good, the Bad, and the Joined
For the text of the call, see here.
The deadline for abstracts: 30 March 2023.
Dates for the workshop: 4 – 6 October, 2023
Zarkamol Munisov (Camille) & Iris Borowy, “A narrative analysis: tragic images of the Aral Sea in the Russophone ecopoems.” Central Asian Survey (Jan 2023). DOI: 10.1080/02634937.2022.2154315
Iris Borowy and Bernard Harris (eds.), Health and Development. Vol. 2 of the Yearbook for the History of Global Development. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2023. https://www.degruyter.com/document/doi/10.1515/9783111015583/html