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IKD lunchtime seminar: Why We Lie About Aid: Donor Theatrics and the Contentious Politics of Development

16 January 2019, 12:00 - 14:00
CMR 11, The Open University, Milton Keynes, MK7 6AA

Please join us for our first International Development Seminar of 2019. To register please contact:

Speaker: Pablo Yanguas, Honorary Research Fellow at the Global Development Institute, University of Manchester

Lunch from 12:00.  Presentation starts from 12:30.


Foreign aid is about charity. International development is about technical fixes. At least that is what donor publics are constantly told. Behind the meaningless figures of government reports and evocative images of charity appeals lies the reality of development and cooperation - a contentious process in which local reformers struggle to advance institutional change against entrenched political elites. Instead of embracing the complexity and values of reform, however, partisan discourse in donor countries has produced a highly dysfunctional aid system which mistakes short-term results for long-term transformation and gets attacked across the political spectrum, with the right claiming we spend too much, and the left that we don't spend enough. A different approach is possible, one that acknowledges aid as being about struggle, about taking sides, about politics. But such an approach requires an underlying moral vision that may be no longer be viable in a time of growing nationalism.

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