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Development Studies Research Methods

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Conceptual Foundation for Development I

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Tools and Policy Analysis for Development
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Current Research Projects:

Development, Accountability and Efficiency: understanding Canada’s aid effectiveness agenda

This study aims to examine the new narrative of aid effectiveness in Canada’s changing aid discourse. It explores a broad range of fiercely debated contemporary issues that seemed to have shaped CIDA’s understanding of ‘development’ in recent years. In particular, it seeks to elucidate the general meanings and epistemological significance of the widely stated but largely unexplored assertion that focusing on aid effectiveness through a new style of management can make better policy decisions and can help CIDA design better strategies that contribute to improving the poverty conditions in the developing world.  The assumption is that “managing for results” will steer CIDA’s development efforts toward achieving greater efficiency, accountability, and transparency.

This research claims that such efforts to ‘maximize the impact of public funds’ have created a new development narrative, which has in effect rekindled and renewed the spirit and vision of the modernity discourse that once legitimized the dominant role of technocrats and bureaucrats in the development process. Instead of opening up a space for popular organizations to work collectively to promote an enabling setting for people’s self-development, the new language of aid effectiveness necessitates the need for grassroots and community-based organizations to professionalize the practice of development. It concludes that the CIDA’s changing development narrative is likely to negatively affect the prospect for “autonomous” development in much of the global South.     

South-South Cooperation, Realpolitik, and the Changing Global Aid Architecture: exploring the evolving role of China and India as aid providers in Africa

This research aims at providing a new lens for understanding how the recent rise of China and India as aid-providers is affecting Africa’s development landscape.  It offers insight into the ways in which the so-called rising donors, especially China and India, are making efforts to assume a unique role for themselves as providers of development aid through their external aid policies and programs. In particular, this study revolves around the following three key questions i) Are the conventional structures of global aid becoming increasingly insignificant in the midst of rising new players in development cooperation? ii) To what extent can China and India alter the current DAC-dominated, conditionality driven architecture of Africa’s development cooperation?  iii) How does the new narrative of partnership, solidarity aid, and South-South cooperation provide greater space for Africa’s self-determination over its development process? 

Contrary to popular perceptions, this study suggests that China and India’s aid to Africa is driven not primarily by their desire to promote economic and social development of the continent but is rather influenced by their national interests. The dual challenges of meeting domestic economic needs and further strengthening the image as a major player in the global political economy have set the stage for both of the economic powerhouses to occupy a more prominent position in development cooperation in the new millennium.   

Understanding the Migration and Development Nexus: from labor mobility to human development

This study aims at breaking new intellectual ground in the analysis of the complex, often misunderstood, though nevertheless heavily politicized nexus between migration and development. It makes a departure from the conventional research and policy agenda which focuses on the intersectionality of migration and development from a pure economic perspective, especially in the contexts of labor mobility as well as the flows of remittance.  In particular, it seeks to raise fundamental question about the role of migration in expanding human choices in the Global South. By going beyond the current understanding of how migration impacts economic conditions of the poor, this research provides a new lens for analyzing the effects of migration on issues of structural inequality, discrimination, and deprivation of marginalized communities, including women.

Teaching Development in the 21st century: understanding the tension between professionalization and critical interdisciplinarity

This research makes an effort to develop a deeper understanding of the recent debates on the changing goals of the Development Studies programs, especially the ones that offer degrees at the graduate level, in Canada.  It revolves around the following few questions: Are the conventional methods of teaching development becoming increasingly insignificant in the midst of rising tensions between theory and practice? Should the programs continue to maintain their critical interdisciplinary edge to help students become responsible global citizens or should they focus more on guiding students to their efforts to become successful development practitioners? In other words, to what extent do the Development Studies programs need to reorient their curriculums to equip students with appropriate tools and methods that aim at improving the poverty/human conditions?

Instead of providing a firm conclusion, this paper plans to highlight some of the difficult challenges that most of the Development Studies programs in Canada are facing today. It considers the changing nature of Development Teaching and discusses the complex task of establishing a close link between critical theory and practice.

Towards a Democratic Cosmopolis

This collaborative, interdisciplinary research study aims to break new intellectual and policy ground in the analysis of democracy, cosmopolis, diaspora, recognition, and citizenship. Its goal is to provide a new analytical and policy perspective on immigration, citizenship, and diaspora by considering the conditions of transformative, democratic participation. For details of the project, please visit the following web page:
http://www.yorku.ca/cosmop/

Islam, Civil Society, and Democracy: the politics of ‘Islamic modernity’ in Southeast Asia

Given the intrusion of religion in political debates in much of the world, this research study aims to explore the nexus between democracy and Islam in Southeast Asia, which has witnessed a remarkable rise of Islam as a dominant political force in recent years. It offers an analysis of the revitalization of a political identity based on Islam. In particular, it looks at the big picture of Islamization programs adopted by both governments and civil society groups in Indonesia and Malaysia to explain the return of religion to the political sphere. This study revolves around the following three questions: i) To what extent do religious actors and organizations influence the political sphere and the process of democratization? ii) Does the concept of “Islamic modernity” promote civil liberties, women’s rights, and tolerance? iii) How the Islamization agenda promotes certain visions of power and social order? Although the current popular analysis of the emergence of religious revivalism is anchored in either Samuel Huntington’s ‘clash of civilizations’ or Tariq Ali’s ‘clash of fundamentalisms’ thesis, this study aims to take a lead in understanding the failure of managing pluralism in the region from the new field of critical security studies.

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