Debates Around Development Alternatives 2020:
Conference on Development
Azim Premji University, Bangalore
CALL FOR PAPERS
Dates: 2nd, 3rd and 4th Sept, 2020
Venue: Azim Premji University, Bangalore
The institutions by which we govern ourselves find themselves in a curiously embattled position.
With the worldwide rise of authoritarian populism, deepening inequality and increasing economic
precarity it is becoming increasingly evident that these institutions are inadequate to the
task of governing the emergent context shaped as it is by new forms of economic, ecological
and demographic challenges. Scholars and practitioners of democratic development find
themselves at a critical conjuncture – invested as they are in illuminating the exclusions
that shore up modern governance initiatives while simultaneously sceptical and anxious about
emerging practices of ‘inclusion’ that pay short shrift to issues of privacy and freedom and
make way for new and dangerous forms of surveillance. This conference seeks to build a
conversation on alternate governance arrangements that illuminates emergent ways of
conceptualizing and enacting the possibilities and practices of democratic development.
This year the focus of the Debates Around Development Alternatives conference is on Governance
Initiatives in development, explored in three dimensions: development actions, development
research and development education. These governance initiatives include both State actions as
well as those that emerge out of collective actions of/with disenfranchised populations.
In the context of development action, the conference seeks to collectively engage the range
of state-market alternatives that are being experimented with, the current non-state non-market
options, and understand the nature of autonomy, accountability and inclusion central to these
endeavours. In terms of development research, the focus will be on theorizing the binding
principles driving governance initiatives, issues of technology choice, and querying the
location of power and knowledge. Finally, our interest in development education prompts us
to deepen both our understanding of the pedagogic underpinnings of alternative governance
initiatives as well as consider how development curricula can be
better equipped to creatively address the problems that bedevil development today.
The conference invites innovative papers from multiple disciplines and from people working
in academia as well as practitioners. The conference is built around six-interrelated themes
and the papers submitted are expected to be related to one or more themes.
The importance and criticality of commons has received fresh appreciation in recent times,
both conceptually and empirically, flying in the face of much of the last century’s
development thought and action which have been anchored in the assumed superiority of
private ownership. First, socio-ecological systems thinking has shown that commons are
complex socio-ecological production systems where systems efficiency needs to be optimised
and not maximised for sustained use. Second, it is increasingly seen that poverty,
vulnerability, and commons are closely connected: poverty and vulnerability tend to increase
with decline and degradation of commons. Further, shared norms to maintain commons at their
optimum levels enhance social and cultural regimes of care. Over the years, research and action on
commons have flourished, and it has even entered the urban imaginations
where the ideas and practice around commons are gaining popularity and legitimacy.
We invite papers examining new and refurbished governance initiatives concerning practices of
commoning that have emerged to tackle problems of inequality and sustainability.
Given the context of persistent nutritional vulnerability in India, and its implications
for social justice, the linkages between food production, consumption and distribution
systems needs to be carefully considered. The data show a significant shift in patterns
of consumption in both urban and rural areas, and among all population groups. Such shifts
are occurring in a landscape where food production is predominated by small and marginal
holdings. This primary food production system is intricately linked to local ecology
(including biodiversity, water, livestock, commons) as well as social practices
(including caste, tenurial arrangements, labour practices, and the power dynamics of
entrenched semi-feudal relations). Important policy developments such as the National Mission
for Sustainable Agriculture, as well as the growing influence of farmer-led movements such as
la via Campesina, are creating new governance models that attempt to balance concerns around
sustainable agriculture, livelihoods and food sovereignty. This theme encourages discussions
on whether such emerging governance structures support them in
building resilience in the face of increasing dependence on non-local markets.
The economic reforms carried out in the past two and a half decades have not only changed
the political economy of the country, they have also hastened the pace of internal migration.
With the notion of work itself undergoing change in the neo-liberal era, reflected in
(for example) the growing informalisation and feminization of the work force, the concept
of permanent employment is becoming obsolete. In recent years, new forms of labour
organisations have emerged that have forged their own mechanisms and modalities to address
the rights of the vulnerable workforce. This new form has the potential to include other
workers who were traditionally ignored by mainstream conventional labour organisations.
The state too is trying to address the situation through universalization of welfare rights
to its citizens rather than workers’ rights. It is in this context that this theme invites a
discussion on the new institutions emerging (both from civil society and state) to meet the social security needs of its citizens.
Healthcare in urbanizing India
Health outcomes in urban areas are significantly better than in rural India,
leading to the erroneous conclusion that urban health systems are fairly robust.
The challenge of ensuring healthcare in urban India has therefore largely been identified
with providing greater access to affordable health services for the urban poor.
While this is without doubt of paramount importance, there are other issues that
are critical to all urban populations, such as the alarming increase in vector-borne diseases,
water-borne diseases, road traffic accidents and air pollution. This calls for a multi-sectoral
response, involving a complex web of stakeholders, including central and state governments,
local urban bodies, as well as a range of public and private service providers.
Layered onto this are the vulnerabilities associated with the social determinants of health,
including the health effects of poverty, gender, migration, urbanization and globalization.
This theme explores the diversity of health challenges experienced in the urban context,
and their implications for public health governance, accountability and future planning of
urban public goods that are integral to preserving public
health such as fresh air, clean water and solid waste management.
While scientists have played an essential role in understanding and modelling the
trends and effects of climate change, initiatives to address climate change have
lagged dangerously behind. Governance debates typically trip themselves up on debates
on the percentage rise of temperature around which to govern and lose focus of the fact
that whether the goal is mitigation or adaptation, business and governance as usual is
not an option. This panel seeks to seed conversations on and showcase examples of advocacy
and action that are challenging our system of consumption and production, and crafting new
and necessary ways of provisioning ourselves and pursuing well-being in the context of
climate change. On the implementation front one key challenge is that strategies are
required to work at a large scale while simultaneously having to be highly context
specific and localized. Consequently we are interested
in ways that showcase innovative ways of thinking and enacting decentralized governance,
devolution of power and devolution of finances
Disasters, it is widely acknowledged, reveal in their wake the fault-lines of our society.
Mobilisations of disaster-affected communities have shown that, devastating as they are,
disasters also offer the opportunity to "build back better." Examples whereby governance
initiatives have been able to create not only a sound socio-economic and ecological foundation
but also a political foundation to rebuild their lives and improve resilience have lessons
for constituencies that extend far beyond the disaster zone. In our discussion on governance
initiatives we are interested in examining and building on initiatives where communities
have been able to effect changes that disrupt the reproduction of inequality that have contributed to their vulnerability to disaster.
Guidelines for Submission and Selection
Abstract Submission – 15th March, 2020
Abstract acceptance notification – 15th April, 2020
Full paper Submission – 1st July, 2020
Abstract and Final Paper Submission:
The abstract of the paper has to be submitted by 15th March 2020.
The abstract should be at least 500 words long and should include the following:
- Problems/issues explored in the paper
- Approach of the paper
- Paper’s contributions to one or several of the conference themes
All submissions should be mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org
Selected papers will be notified by 15th April, 2020
The selected authors have to send their final papers by 1st July, 2020
There is no registration fee for the conference. Participants are expected to cover
their own travel to and from Bangalore. The University will take care of boarding and
lodging as well as conveyance to and from the airport to the campus for invited participants.
About the Conference on Development
Following the mission of Azim Premji University, the larger vision of the Conference on Development is to nurture a sustained conversation among key stakeholders on some of the central issues of social change, and build a body of broad based, widely shared knowledge that would be empowering to social change actors. The thematic conceptualisation and institutional organisation of the conference are meant to be inclusive, non-hierarchical, and purposeful. While the overarching theme of the conference for the next few years will be Debates Around Development Alternatives, each conference will attempt to organize the conversations around (i) development action, (ii) development research and (iii) development education. These are understood to be porous categories and not in any way enforced in a crudely mechanical way. The attempt will be to create spaces where the inter-relationships and dependencies of all three aspects of the development project can be explored creatively.
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