Debating Development - Reflecting on Decolonial Perspectives

Decolonization is a process, not an end in itself. It refers to unlearning and deconstructing hegemonic knowledge systems that characterize the Western “modern” world, and instead recognizes and replenishes the plurality of alternative ways of seeing, thinking, and being in the world.

Decolonization has enormous social, economic, political, ecological and cultural implications by rethinking relationships that dismantle racial, gender, and class binaries that have been historically imposed and reinforced within Western-style development. As current events are unfolding we have seen how efforts towards decolonization have ranged from demanding for land restitution to decolonizing the university curriculums, to empowering campaigns that  remove statues of infamous colonial perpetrators in our public spaces. It is also common to hear terms as decolonization of knowledge (epistemic or epistemological decolonization), decolonizing development, or decolonizing science. Yet, the meaning of decolonization is not universally agreed upon. What does decolonization entail in theory and practice?

In the 2020 ‘Debating Development’ series, we seek out the most contentious issues in the relationship between development and decolonization. The intention is not to pinpoint a universal understanding of what decolonization is, but rather to put it into conversation with the multiple meanings it implies within specific contexts. To that end, we organize timely debates between academics, civil society actors and representatives from the development sector.

Debating Development - Reflecting on Decolonial Perspectives

All debates will be organized as webinars, except for the closing debate.

The webinars will be held each Tuesday evening from 19h00 to 21h00.

13 October: Post-development and decolonial perspectives

  • Achile Mbembe, Cameroonian philosopher and political theorist. University of the Witwatersrand (South-Africa), Duke University (United States)
  • Els Hertogen, Head of NGO platform 11.11.11
  • Moderator: Gert Van Hecken, lecturer at the Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp

More information

20 October: Decolonizing ecological relations

  • Diana Raquel Vela Almeida, Postdoctoral Fellow, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Department of Geography

  • Moderator: Vijay Kolinjivadi, Postdoctoral Fellow, Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp

More information

27 October: A decolonial turn for development studies?

  • Sabelo J. Ndlovu-Gatsheni, chair in Epistemologies of the Global South, University of Bayreuth
  • Johan Bastiaensen, chair of the Institute of Development Policy (IOB), University of Antwerp

More information

3 November: Feminist ecologies & Coloniality of the body

  • Brigitte Baptiste, advocate of gender diversity and environmental conservation, head of EAN University, Colombia
  • Iris Verschaeve, co-chair of Furia

More information

10 November: Gentrification and neo-colonial spatialities in the city

  • Christina M. Jimenez, Chair of the Department of History, University of Colorado Colorado Spring (UCCS)
  • Aaron Vansintjan, Doctoral Researcher at the University of London, Birkbeck and co-editor of Uneven Earth

More information

17 November: A decolonial critique of state building interventions

  • Philip Lottholz, post-doctoral research Fellow at the collaborative Research Centre in the Institute of Sociology, Justus Leibig University Giessen, Germany
  • Abiosseh Davis, monitoring and Evaluation officer for Interpeace

24 November: Decolonization and Military Interventions

  • Yannick Quéau, Executive Director of the Intervention and Research Group for Peace
  • Jean Eudes Biem, International School of Security Forces, Cameroon

1 December: Kinderen van de dekolonisatie. The role of the diaspora in memory of the colonial past (closing debate at De Studio, organized by UCSIA. Event in Dutch)

  • Nadia Nsayi, political scientist, author of the book "Dochter van de Dekolonisatie" and curator of the MAS exhibition '100 x Congo. A century of Congolese art in Antwerp'
  • Mohamed Barrie, co-founder of African Youth Organization (AYO) and co-coordinator of Black History Month Belgium
  • Performances by Ouologuem Seckou, slam poet (Antwerps stadsdichter)

Register here


Debating Development is a collaboration between the Institute of Development Policy (IOB) and USOS. It receives financial support from VLIR-UOS. Debating Development is part of the Global Minds programme of the University of Antwerp.

Debating Development on social media


Janus Verrelst Tel. +32 3 265 56 54