ISS hosts 16th Development Dialogue for early-stage researchers

The Development Dialogue, an annual event organized by and for PhD researchers, this year welcomes over 80 participants. The conference theme is “Social Justice amidst the Convergence of Crises: Repoliticitzing Inequalities”. Does this sound intriguing, and do you want to know more? Perhaps you’re interested in attending some of the panels? This article provides a short summary of the conference.

The Development Dialogue (DD), an annual event for and by PhD students from across the globe, is taking place on 1 and 2 November 2018 at the ISS. It will bring together two renowned scholars and over 80 participants to share scholarly works and reflect on ideas and views around the topic “Social Justice amidst the Convergence of Crises: Repoliticizing Inequalities”.

The 16th Development Dialogue will offer PhD students and other early-stage scholars working within the broad field of Development Studies the platform and space to revisit and bring back politics into the inequality debate in particular and development discourse in general as a way of advancing the course of global social justice.

What’s in a name?

This year’s focus finds resonance in the global call to tackle inequalities, which has intensified in some parts of the world, and hence, has undermined the attainment of a dignified and just society. In view of this, this year’s DD is focusing on the repoliticization of inequalities as a pertinent and overlapping issue in the development studies debate and in struggles for social justice.

The main motivation behind this year’s topic “Social Justice amidst the Convergence of Crises: Re-Politicizing Inequalities” lies in the fact that although advances have been made in addressing various inequalities, the world is experiencing backlashes both at the national and global levels, on partial account of the emergence and/or convergence of multiple crises on the economic, environmental, humanitarian, and political fronts among others.

Moreover, responses to inequalities have largely been technocratic and simplistic, as they have repeatedly skirted around structural and institutional factors, which are at the core of these challenges. Therefore, the call to repoliticize inequalities challenges the overuse of the inequality rhetoric and demands a deeper inquiry and interrogation of the existing power relations, and the structures and institutions of (re)distribution that have engendered and sustained the disparities and divisions between and amongst societies.

It is an invitation to engage in the crucial debate on how to secure a world where the vulnerable and disadvantaged are able to obtain a fair share of the public good, claim their voice, and attain a secured sense of dignity.

What’s happening at the DD16?

Responses to the call for papers have been overwhelmingly as a good number of abstracts from PhD students and young scholars were received. We are expecting to host around 80 participants from at least 25 different countries. The scientific works to be presented will be put in fourteen different parallel panel sessions.

You can view the conference programme here

In addition to the parallel panel sessions, this year’s DD will host two renowned scholars as guest speakers: Prof. Barabara Harris-White of the University of Oxford, and Prof. Dzodzi Tsikata of the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana and CODESRIA, who will both present keynote addresses during which they will share very exciting views on the topic in two different plenary sessions.

Professor Barbara Harriss–White is Professor Emeritus of Development Studies and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College of the University of Oxford. Her research interests include the political economy of India and poverty and social welfare, particularly on the issues of destitution, disability, malnutrition, and gender-biased development in South Asia. She has a long-term interest in agrarian transformation in Southern India and has tracked the economy of a market town there since 1972. She held academic posts at the University of Oxford since 1987 until her retirement in 2011. She has been an adviser to the UK’S Department of International Development (DFID) and to seven UN organisations, as well as a trustee of the International Food Policy Research Institute and of Norway’s Institute for Environment and Development.

Professor Dzodzi Tsikata Dzodzi Tsikata is Research Professor and Director of the Institute of African Studies, (IAS) at the University of Ghana, Legon–Accra. Prior to assuming her current role, she was Professor at the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER), also at the University of Ghana. Since 2015, she has served as the President of the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA), after she was elected to that role at the 14th general assembly meeting which took place between 8-12 June 2015. Her academic interests include gender and development issues, as well as gender equity policies and practices.

The session of Prof. White will take place on 1 November at 09:00 in Aula B, and the session of Prof. Tsikata on 2 November at 11:00 in Aula B.

Together with the parallel panel sessions, the two plenary sessions therefore offer the intellectual platform and space where scholars can share their work with peers in a very friendly and relaxed environment. Indeed, participants can be assured that they will walk away after the DD not just with great feedback and an enhanced network of personal friends, but also with a sense of community with people coming from all over the world, and with whom they can continue to share and benefit from new ideas on development research.


The DD16 Organizing Committee would like to acknowledge the financial support received from the International Institute of Social Studies (ISS), the European Association of Development Research and Training Institution (EADI), the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Erasmus Trustfonds. A special word of appreciation further goes to all individuals and institutional structures, particularly to the PhD community; ISS faculty members and administrative staff for the great sense of involvement, participation and support lent to the DD16 Organising Committee throughout the entire process of organizing the conference.

Authored by the DD16 Organizing Committee: Ana Lucía Badillo Salgado, Ben Yiyugsah, Emma Lynn Dadap-Cantal, Mausumi Chetia and Natacha Bruna.

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