Globalisation and Development – University of Copenhagen

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Globalisation and Development

Addressing “Big” Questions

“Globalisation” and “development” signal key junctures in processes involving large-scale schemes of social transformation, accompanied by the legitimisation of varied forms of coercion as well as the intense projecting of popular needs and desires. A challenge for this researcher group is to sharpen and deepen our efforts to grasp these world-historical dynamics.

We seek to reflect on how anthropology can meet the methodological, theoretical and indeed didactic challenges of integrating conceptualisations of global forces into specific projects. We are thus interested in asking ‘big’ questions that can generate thematic linkages across fields. For instance:

  • How can we rethink ‘development’ as processes of social engineering, from ‘micro’ improvement of political behaviours all the way to post-conflict military-industrial reconstruction projects?
  • How can we think about the hegemonisation of ‘growth’; as a popular imaginary of social change; an encompassing technology of new markets; an over-accumulation crisis of global capitalism. 

Transgressing the local and the global

In particular, the researcher group is interested in the nature and proliferation of actors that constitute researchable nodes for a global anthropology, where we can search for new vocabularies transcending the conceptual dominance of the nation-state.

Beyond thinking of globalisation as merely the transfer and spread of ideas, this group also aims to theorise the process of translation of “global” norms in particular localities and by particular intermediaries. We want to understand how intensified global processes of accumulation, exclusion and contestation in fact transgress the distinction between the local and the global. Our key interests thus include:

  • How can anthropological theory be both ‘grounded’ and confront the challenge of an ‘unbounded’ world of crosscutting forces?  How do shifting global connections invite us to open and rethink the concepts, organisation, and public role of the social sciences?

Teaching activities

We engage with the above questions in our research and our teaching, notably in the development of the MSc programme “Global Development Studies”.