Researching South-South Development Cooperation: The Politics of Knowledge Production, 1st Edition (e-Book) book cover

Researching South-South Development Cooperation

The Politics of Knowledge Production, 1st Edition

Edited by Emma Mawdsley, Elsje Fourie, Wiebe Nauta


200 pages | 2 B/W Illus.

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Over the last two decades the expanding role of Southern countries as development partners has led to tectonic shifts in global development ideas, practices, norms and actors. Researchers are faced with new questions around identity, power and positionality in global development. Researching South-South Development Cooperation examines this rapidly growing and complex phenomenon, asking to what extent existing assumptions, conceptual frameworks and definitions of 'development' need to be reframed in the context of researching this new landscape.

This interdisciplinary book draws on voices from across the Global South and North to explore the epistemological and related methodological challenges and opportunities associated with researching South-South development cooperation, asking what these trends mean for the politics of knowledge production. Chapters are interspersed with shorter vignettes, which aim to share examples from first-hand participation in and observation of South-South development cooperation initiatives.

This book will be of interest to anyone conducting research on development in the Global South, whether they are a practitioner or policy maker, or a student or researcher in politics, international development, area studies, or international relations.


"This highly original and theoretically sophisticated collection by an unusually diverse group of contributors subjects the idea of 'south-south development cooperation' to the sort of critical scrutiny it has long demanded. In doing so they break important new theoretical ground and offer a new and potentially transformative activist agenda." David Lewis, London School of Economics & Political Science, UK

"The economic and political rise of China and other Asian countries is profoundly reconfiguring international relations, including the knowledge production on South-South Development Cooperation. This volume presents an inspiring selection of perspectives, while self-critically questioning the positionality of the authors amidst increasing valorization and commodification of research."Arndt Graf, Africa’s Asian Options (AFRASO), Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany

"Rich in analysis and reflection, this kaleidoscopic volume brings together emergent and established voices to interrogate the ontologies, epistemologies, and methodologies of South-South Development Cooperation. This result is a book that is novel in both form and content, and that breaks new ground by debating and deliberating how identity, power and positionality shape geographies of knowledge production concerning a key topic for contemporary development studies."Jamie Doucette, University of Manchester, UK

"This creative volume traces, theorizes and reflects on changing research epistemologies following global shifts in economic and political power. Clearly, development studies has been waiting for this book, though its importance far surpasses the discipline. Decolonising knowledge (production) all in academia must: the discussions in this volume lead the way."Bram Buscher, Wageningen University, Netherlands

"A bold questioning of what it means to research south-south development cooperation. Highly creative in form and content, this volume will greatly serve teachers, students, researchers and practitioners to reflect upon uncomfortable yet necessary questions of positionality and theory-building in globalization and development studies. I expect this book to be of great influence."Valentina Mazzucato, Maastricht University, Netherlands

"This interesting collection offers an array of studies on ‘the politics of knowledge production’ in connection to South-South development cooperation, a rapidly emerging field and realigning global ideologies and processes of ‘development’. Indeed, virtually all chapters are written by scholars from the global South: the editors only wrote the Introduction and the Conclusion. They address a variety of relevant issues regarding social epistemology, development, and identity politics, and while here and there somewhat ‘Third-Worldist’ in approach the book provides essential and challenging reading, bound to evoke critical debate."Jon Abbink, Professor of Politics & Governance in Africa, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Table of Contents

Foreword Neera Chandhoke

Introduction Elsje Fourie, Wiebe Nauta and Emma Mawdsley

1. The (Im)possibility of Southern Theory: The opportunities and challenges of cultural brokerage in co-producing knowledge about China-Africa Relations Giles Mohan, Ben Lampert, May Tan-Mullins and Richmond Atta-Ankomah

Vignette: Where is the South? Global, postcolonial and intersectional perspectives Ruben Gonzalez-Vicente

2. Devouring International Relations: Anthropophagy and the Study of South-South Cooperation Adriana Erthal Abdenur

Vignette: Has Research gone South? Perspectives of a Brazilian researcher in Britain Rubens de S. Duarte

3. Criticizing your ‘Motherland’ to Foreigners? The dilemma of critical scholarship and self-censorship in analysing Korea’s foreign aid as a national(istic) project Sung-Mi Kim

Vignette: 'We Need People Like You': Reflections on identity and expectations in South-South Cooperation research Cynthia Kamwengo

Vignette: Silent North, Loud South: Reflections on transnational research in Afrasian and Afrabian spaces John Njenga Karugia

4. A plea for kaleidoscopic knowledge production Mayke Kaag and Miriam Ocadiz

Vignette: The Politics of Knowledge Production and Post/de/anti-colonial Positionality Han Cheng

Vignette: Difference within Similarity: how South-South Cooperation research should no longer label ‘difference’ as an obstacle to partnerships Natalia Herbst

Vignette: The Africa-China Reporting Project in Johannesburg as South-South journalism nexus Barry Van Wyk

5. Doing Research on Unstable Ground: the ebb and flow of Brazilian South-South cooperation, from Lula to Bolsonaro Letícia Cesarino

Vignette: Interrogating the binary in Brazil’s agricultural cooperation for development Lídia Cabral

Vignette: Writing about South-South development cooperation as a Mexican diplomat Gerardo Bracho

6. Interrogating the Solidarity Narrative: Re-discovering difference through African-Asian gender politics Rirhandu Mageza-Barthel and Uta Ruppert

Vignette: The ‘Avuncular’ Gatekeepers: interrogating authority, authenticity and autonomy in SSC scholarship in India Supriya Roychoudhury

Vignette: Experiencing Gender and Positionality as a Female Professional in the Korean ODA Sector Jinhee Kim

7. Let’s focus on facilitators: Life-worlds and reciprocity in researching ‘Southern’ development cooperation agencies Sebastian Haug

Vignette: ‘When you Leave, they will Kill me’: ethnography, ethics and (post)colonial entanglements in SSDC research Katherine Howell

Vignette: "I’m Talking to you Because you are Polish": reflections on identities and historical memories in researching North-South relations Katarzyna Baran

Conclusion Wiebe Nauta, Emma Mawdsley and Elsje Fourie

About the Editors

Emma Mawdsley is a Reader in Human Geography, at Cambridge University, UK

Elsje Fourie is Assistant Professor of Globalisation and Development, at Maastricht University, the Netherlands

Wiebe Nauta is a Sociologist of Development, at Maastricht University, the Netherlands

About the Series

Rethinking Development

Rethinking Development offers accessible and thought-provoking overviews of contemporary topics in international development and aid. Providing original empirical and analytical insights, the books in this series push thinking in new directions by challenging current conceptualizations and developing new ones.  

This is a dynamic and inspiring series for all those engaged with today’s debates surrounding development issues, whether they be students, scholars, policy makers and practitioners internationally. These interdisciplinary books provide an invaluable resource for discussion in advanced undergraduate and postgraduate courses in development studies as well as in anthropology, economics, politics, geography, media studies and sociology.

To submit proposals, please contact the Development Studies Editor, Helena Hurd ([email protected]).

Learn more…

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
EDUCATION / Organizations & Institutions
POLITICAL SCIENCE / International Relations / General
SOCIAL SCIENCE / Developing Countries