History Brunches
15 November 2021

Post-Developmentalism avant la lettre? The Critique of Development at the Geneva Africa Institute (IUED) 1961-1975

On 11 November, 2021, Master Candidate Nicolas Hafner presented his paper "Post-Developmentalism avant la lettre? The Critique of Development at the Geneva Africa Institute (IUED) 1961-1975" 

Event summary 

Presenter: Nicolas Hafner (MA candidate)
Commentator: Professor Carolyn Biltoft

The International History and Politics Brunches continued with MA candidate Nicolas Hafner presenting his paper about ideas elaborated by the Institut Africain de Genève (Geneva Africa Institute, GAI) during its formative years in the 1960s. 

Located in a small castle-like villa outside Carouge, the GAI offered a cosy and inviting atmosphere for fervorous and stimulating intellectual exchange. As students and staff alike met to discuss, host conferences, and participate in night-long debates, the boundaries between their work and private lives became ever blurred.

In searching for a common identity, world view and, ultimately, an educational programme, the GAI's people questioned the universality of Western thinking and tried to understand the existing plurality of worldviews. Critiques about Western-dominant concepts of development began to give rise to a Geneva school of development. In 1973, the GAI was renamed as the Institut des Études de Développement (Institute for Studies on Development, IED).

By using historical methods to analyse the development discourse at the GAI, Hafner provided us with a new lens through which to understand the concept of development and its own refusal - post-development avant la lettre so to say.