Most read in 2016

As is tradition on most blogs, the most popular stories / articles / posts of the year are summarized. I am somewhat late in reporting, nonetheless, the most read posts on this site of 2016 were:

  1. PhD Reality Check
  2. Conducting Research in Ethiopia, Read This.
  3. Systematic Change (Healthcare)
  4. Essential Development Studies Books (Review)
  5. Effective Aid (Agriculture)

Popularity was largely a result of other people's influence. Most commonly a Twitter mention resulted in a noticeable spike in traffic. Subscribers will have noticed I stopped posting graduate funding opportunities – for the moment there appears to be limited interest in this type of information, and will focus more on the review of books and longer posts on specific topics (which are what readers have been most interested in). Open to feedback and input on that decision. 

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Visiting Fellowships 2017/18 Shanghai University

The Center for the History of Global Development, Shanghai University, invites applications for fellowships for visiting scholars working on projects related to the history of policies, concepts, practices or debates related to socio-economic development on local, national, regional or global levels. The Center for the History of Global Development is a new research focus established at the College of Liberal Arts at Shanghai University. Through conferences, workshops, publications and discussion panels, the Center seeks to contribute to interdisciplinary scholarly debates on the repercussions of "development" as a phenomenon which has shaped much of recent global history while remaining conceptually vague or contradictory.

"Development," in its most basic form, is understood as the idea that socio-economic conditions would and should improve and that specific policies should be employed to bring about such improvements. Beyond this core, development has been a highly contested concept, whose constructed character has repeatedly been emphasized. Critics point to international structures created in the name of development which have often reflected power inequalities and have served the interests of those that put them in place while doing little to improve living conditions of those at whom they were allegedly addressed. Other scholars identify perceived successes of development, measured in social indicators such as life expectancy, infant mortality, gender equality or literacy, which contradict a simplistic notion of continued failure. Different evaluations of the outcome of development tie into different interpretations of what exactly the concept does – or should – mean. Over time, Western modernization theories have been complemented by alternative concepts such as the basic needs approach, Amartya Sen's view of "development as freedom" or Herman Daly's insistence on "development" as a strictly qualitative notion, to be distinguished from economic growth. In addition, the idea of "sustainable development", and, more recently, Southern concepts such as "Buen Vivir" or "Ubuntu," have also gained traction, each with its own package of contested meanings.

Despite this lack of precision, "development" continues to be widely used, including in categories such as "developed" or "least developed" countries, and for many people, particularly in low-income countries, "development" remains a powerful and seemingly self-evident goal. Apparently, the idea of some form of socio-economic improvement as a goal of public or private actions has resonated with societies in many parts of the world, though not necessarily with identical meanings. Meanwhile, definitions of what constituted "successes" or "failures" are similarly far from clear, and perspectives vary along with changing attitudes in public and in academia as well as with evolving evidence regarding the long-term repercussions of various forms of development.

The Center of the History of Global Development welcome applications from researchers who are taking innovative and interdisciplinary approaches to any aspects of this topic, ideally looking at ways in which the histories of different times and different places intersected. As pivotal sectors in which developmental practices have become effective, projects addressing economic, health and/or environmental aspects and their interactions are particularly welcome.

Fellows can benefit from an international academic environment and from a stimulating setting in one of the most rapidly "developing" cities of the world.

Fellows are expected to share their questions and the results of their work through lectures, both about their specific research project and about topics in their field of expertise (approximately one lecture per month). They are also expected to generally participate in the academic life of the College of Liberal Arts at Shanghai University and to cite Shanghai University in all publications to which their fellowship stay has contributed. Fellowships are open to post-doctoral and senior scholars. Preference is given to projects at an advanced state, whose outcome and publication potential is already becoming clear.

Fellowship applications can be for periods of three or six months, taken between 1 March 2017 and 28 February 2018.

The fellowship includes:

Free accommodation, subsidized meals
A monthly stipend of 7,000 RMB for post-docs and 12,000 for senior scholars.
Office space and secretariat assistance
Applications should include:

A project proposal of no more than 3,000 – 4,000 words, explaining the research question, relevance, work program, and expected outcome of the project
A cv
A list of proposed lectures
The deadline is 1 December 2016. For further information, contact Prof. Iris Borowy at or Prof. Yong-an Zhang at

Contact Info:
Prof. Iris Borowy
College of Liberal Arts, Shanghai University
99 Shangda Road, Shanghai 200444
Contact Email:

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Funded MA & PhD: Sociology of Development

​Two graduate student positions (1 PhD; 1 MA) are available beginning in September 2017 to assist with the project Developing Conformity: Foreign Aid and the Diffusion of Global Norms in the Department of Sociology at Memorial University, St. John's, NL, Canada ( 

Funded by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC), this project employs quantitative research methods to examine whether and how the flow of foreign aid and other forms of development finance are associated with the spread of common policies, institutions, and norms in the Global South. For more information, please consult the project website: 

Students should have a broad research interest in development and globalization, with a specific focus on some aspect of foreign aid/development finance. Students experienced in quantitative research methods and familiar with Stata statistical software will be given preference (additional training to be provided). Prior study in Sociology, Development Studies, Political Science or another social science is required.

To express interest in either position, please send a one-page statement outlining your research interests and relevant experience along with a copy of your CV to Dr. Liam Swiss before December 10, 2016. Only selected candidates will be contacted.

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Essential Development Studies Books


The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957) – Memmi


The Wretched of the Earth (1961) - Fanon

False Start in Africa (1962) - Dumont


Rules for Radicals (1971) – Alinsky

A Theory of Justice (1971) – Rawls

The Social Consequences of Resettlement (1971) – Colson

Unequal Development (1976) – Amin

Peasants into Frenchmen (1976) – Weber

Orientalism (1978) - Said

The Rational Peasant (1979) – Popkin


Markets and States in Tropical Africa (1981) - Bates

Imagined Communities (1983) - Anderson

Rural Development (1983) - Chambers

Silent Violence: Food, Famine & Peasantry in Northern Nigeria (1983) - Watts

Surplus People (1985) – Platzky & Walker

Sweetness and Power (1985) - Mintz

Weapons of the Weak (1985) – Scott

Decolonizing the Mind (1986) - Ngugi


Anti-Politics Machine (1990) (Practicing & Framing) – Ferguson

The Scramble for Africa (1992) – Pakenham

Encountering Development (1994) – Escobar

The Two Faces of Civil Society: NGOs and Politics in Africa (1996) - Ndegwa

Whose Reality Counts? Putting the First Last (1997) – Chambers

Aiding Violence: The Development Enterprise in Rwanda (1998) - Uvin

Seeing like a State (1998) – Scott

Infections and Inequalities (1999) – Farmer

Moral History of the 20th Century (1999) – Glover

King Leopold's Ghost (1999) – Hochschild

Decolonizing Methodologies (1999) - Smith

Development as Freedom (1999) – Sen


The Mystery of Capital (2000) – de Soto

Civil Society and Development (2001) - Howell & Pearce

The Road to Hell (2002) – Maren

Kicking Away the Ladder (2002) - Chang

Letting them Die (2003) - Campbell

War and Democracy in the Age of Empire (2004) – Hardt & Negri

Reclaiming Development (2004) – Chang

Cultivating Development (2004) – Mosse

Pathologies of Power: Health, Human Rights, and the New War on the Poor (2005) - Farmer

Bury the Chains (2006) – Hochschild

Economic Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy (2006) – Acemoglu & Robinson

The Will to Improve (2007) – Li

The Origin of Wealth (2007) – Beinhocker

The White Man's Burden (2007) – Easterly

Does Foreign Aid Really Work? (2008) – Riddell

World Poverty and Human Rights (2008) – Pogge

Famine Crimes (2009) – De Waal


Dead Aid (2010) – Moyo

Partner to the Poor (2010) – Farmer

Poor Economics (2011) – Banerjee & Duflo

The Idea of Justice (2011) – Sen

One Illness Away (2011) – Krishna

Creating Capabilities (2011) – Nussbaum

Social Life of Disease (2011) – Willrich

U.S. Development as Foreign Policy in Ethiopia (2012) – McVety

Why Nations Fail (2012) – Acemoglu & Robinson

Getting Better (2012) – Kenny

From Poverty to Power (2012) – Green

The Quest for Prosperity (2012) – Lin

The Price of Inequality (2012) - Stiglitz

Do Muslim Women Need Saving? (2013) – Abu-Lughod

The State of Africa (2013) – Meredith

The Almost Revolution (2013) – Carothers and Gramont

Poor Numbers (2013) – Jerven

The Limits of Institutional Reform in Development (2013) – Andrews

Foreign Intervention in Africa (2013) – Schmidt

The Making of a Better World (2014) – Eyben

Capitalist Relations on an Indigenous Frontier (2014) – Li

Capital (2014) - Piketty

Navigating Complexity in International Development (2015) – Burns & Worsley

Give a Man a Fish (2015) – Ferguson

The Politics of Evidence and Results in International Development (2015) - Eyben et al (Eds)

The Real Politics of the Horn of Africa (2015) – de Waal

The Great Surge (2015) – Radelet

The World's Emergency Room (2016) – VanRooyen

The Self-help Myth (2016) – Kohl-Arenas

How Change Happens (2016) - Green

Global Inequality (2016) - Milanovic

Encountering Poverty (2016) – Roy, Negron-Gonzales, Opoku-Agyemang, Talwalker

Doughnut Economics (2017) - Raworth

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Logan Cochrane

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