18 Sep 2019 - 19 Sep 2019 All day SG1 and SG2, Alison Richard Building


Further details about this conference will be made available in the near future.

Please email events@crassh.cam.ac.uk if you would like to be kept informed about the event, or have any other questions. 



Shailaja Fennell (University of Cambridge)

Hester van Hensbergen (University of Cambridge)

Duncan Kelly (University of Cambridge)

Albert Sanghoon Park (University of Cambridge)



This conference invites reflection on the intellectual history of particular ideas of national and international development. Not unlike prior ideas on progress, civilisation, and modernity, the idea of development offers a compelling window into contemporary global history. Yet, while the history of development has attracted growing scholarly attention in recent decades, ensuing advances remain fragmented across interdisciplinary and international divides. 

As such, this conference brings together some of these diverse scholars and their research directions on development’s past. Using Joseph Hodge’s historiographical synopsis as a shared point of departure, the papers presented here will speak to recent scholarly advances and reflect upon prominent areas for future work. In particular, they offer two sets of insights corresponding to the history and historiography of development. The historical aspect opens a space for reflection upon present absences and potential revisions to be explored. To what extent do past and present works address a comprehensive or inclusive set of actors, ideas, geographies, and surrounding narratives? Do certain areas remain conspicuously absent, or are there bodies of overlapping or perhaps conflicting narratives yet to be addressed across these collective works? The historiographical aspect extends to the treatment of methodological issues and downstream implications faced when writing the history of development in both theory and practice. What is the present state of this historiography, and why does it matter? To what extent can (or ought) scholarship on development’s past influence development practices and broader politics on social progress in the present?

Altogether, these presentations open up an interdisciplinary forum to take stock of recent advances and potential agendas for future research. What do development’s visions of progress reveal about the past? And out of this past, does development still offer ideas or broader lessons for the future?




Supported by the Centre for Research in the Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities (CRASSH) and the Cambridge Global Food Security IRC.


Wednesday 18 September 2019

Room SG1, Alison Richard Building

10:00 – 10:30


10:30 – 11:00


11:00 – 11:25

Session 1

Satyajit Singh

‘Negotiating Development, Environment and Local Governance’

Comment: Jared Holley

12:30 –13:25


13:30 –14:55

Session 2

Presenter: Anshu Malholtra

'Sikh Identity and Gender in a Globalizing World’

Comment: Shailaja Fennell

15:00 – 15:25


15:30 – 16:55

Session 3

Presenter: Sandra Halperin

‘Re-reading the History of Nineteenth-Century Development from a Global and Transnational Perspective’

Comment: Jeremy Green

16:55 – 17:05

Short break

17:05 – 18:30

Session 4

Partha Dasgupta, in discussion with Duncan Kelly

Thursday 19 September 2019

Room SG1, Alison Richard Building

10:30 – 11:00


11:00 – 12:25

Session 5

Presenter: Harro Maat

‘Development as Convergence of Smallholder Farming and Field Science: Examples from Dutch Colonialism’

Comment: Shachi Amdekar

12:30 – 13:25


13:30 –14:55

Session 6

Presenter: Alessandro Iandolo

‘The State and the Field: Markets and Governments in Development Historiography’

Comment: Albert Sanghoon Park

15:00 – 15:25


15:30 – 16:55

Final Session

Concluding roundtable discussion

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