After months of preparation, we are happy to announce that the international workshop ‘Development Beyond Aid – Financialization and Socio-Political Change in Africa’s Global Infrastructure’ will be held at the University of Bayreuth from 7 to 9 June. The workshop is convened by Prof. Dr. Jana Hönke on behalf of the INFRAGLOB Project together with anthropologist Prof. Dr. Andrea Behrends (University of Bayreuth) and Dr. Tom McNamara (La Trobe University). Drawing together research from established projects exploring South-South investment, the workshop is part of growing relationships between the University of Bayreuth, La Trobe University and the Melbourne African Studies Group. It is funded by the Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.

With this workshop, we build on ongoing attempts to conceptualise social life on the African continent without centering either aid or North-South relations. Empirically, we seek to explore the challenged role of both Western nations’ foreign policy and Western head-quartered transnational corporations. Furthermore, we build upon the growing body of literature on Chinese capitalism, and other sources of non-OECD capital. Theoretically, we seek to link these ‘travelling models’ of project finance to changing norms of the market economy and the social structures and economic governance associated with these. We are interested in how these ‘travelling models’ are shaped by intra- and international practices surrounding debt and development and by new sources of development-associated finance, often from the Global South.

We seek a, to consider the changing nature of infrastructure finance and its role in shaping social relations; and b, to investigate how varying forms of finance adopt the claim-bearing label of ‘development’- while simultaneously shaping and responding to what ‘development’ means. We are interested in the relationships between differing financial actors on the African continent, and in how forms of state and private finance build upon, and respond to, colonialism’s legacies and changing ideologies and sources of capital. However, rather than seeing financial institutions and foreign states acting upon African people, we are equally focused on how African workers, civil society, governments and the unemployed utilize and reshape the financial options available to them; and how these reformations reflect African aspirations for development.


We are very much looking forward to welcoming our guests from a number of international universities in Bayreuth!

Workshop Programme