Histories of Development

I am interested in challenging and re-examining our understandings of development across a range of 19th and 20th century contexts. This interest in how the past makes itself felt in the present emerged out of my doctoral dissertation, which investigates efforts by settlers and scientists to impose cotton as a commodity crop in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa, and analyzes the environmental, economic, and racial dimensions of its repeated failure. My goal is to critically interrogate what counts as development, by exposing the continuities between ideologies and practices articulated by colonial management paradigms and newly emergent development ones. I believe that development experts who ignore the history of agricultural development in Africa run the risk of repeating the mistakes made by their colonial predecessors.