From 7th to 9th June 2023, we had the honor of hosting a thought-provoking international workshop on the topic “Development Beyond Aid: Financialization and Socio-Political Change in Africa’s Global Infrastructure” at the University of Bayreuth.
Convened in a hybrid format by Prof. Dr. Jana Hönke (Chair for Sociology of Africa, INFRAGLOB, University of Bayreuth), Prof. Dr. Andrea Behrends (Professor for Anthropology in Africa, University of Bayreuth) and Dr. Tom McNamara (Development Studies, La Trobe University), the workshop brought together scholars from different parts of the globe and disciplines. The workshop was made possible through the generous funding from Fritz Thyssen Stiftung.
The four thematic sessions centered around changing sources and cultures of international finance, convergence and divergence among Chinese and African labour norms, conflict, governance and investment in insecure environments and development projects and international concepts. The participants had the opportunity to present their research projects and discussed a wide range of issues related to development, governance, morality and technical fixes in the context of Western and Chinese approaches to aid in African countries. Aspects such as the necessity to diversify perspectives, risk management, the concept of local content and the contrasting approaches of Western and Chinese actors in development practices emerged as recurring themes throughout the sessions. Furthermore, the debates touched upon issues of security, enclaving versus entanglement, adaptation to local contexts, and the crucial importance of policy space and sovereignty. The participants also highlighted the use of moral language in depoliticizing economic decisions and the significance of understanding the unique African perspectives on mining, local content, and development.
We would like to thank all participants for their contributions and insightful discussions and look forward to further cooperation around this topic as part of a special issue!