I’ve been absent from this blog for a few months, mostly because I’ve been very focused on some issues that are only tangentially related to the topic of development, even broadly defined. For instance, much of my energy has been and is currently devoted to an effort to unionize graduate student employees here at the University of Minnesota, something about which I could expound at length, but this isn’t really the right forum to do so. Before that, I had some energy invested in OccupyMN – and while I did talk some about how the Occupy movement is relevant to the topics on which this blog is focused, it didn’t seem appropriate to be posting at length about the ins and outs of my thoughts around that movement.
Now, however, I am beginning to work in earnest on my masters’ thesis, which is very much relevant to this blog. I’ve been struggling to narrow down my paper topic for some time now – I currently have an eight-page bibliography of things I have read or want to read that are relevant to my thesis – but this is my current abstract for my proposed paper:
In this paper, I examine how marginalized peoples harness one globalized paradigm – the international human rights regime – to challenge another – the discourse and practice of neoliberal economic development. Using a case study of Afro-descendant Colombians in northwestern Colombia, I contrast two theoretical traditions of social change: on the one hand, the constructivist and neo-institutional schools that emphasize transnational norms, networks and institutions; and other, the post-development school that foregrounds the role of local social movements. I find that a combination of these theories is necessary to explain the specific phenomena occurring in northwestern Colombia, and I then turn to a brief discussion of the implications for public policies that strike a balance between the economic, social and cultural rights of marginalized Afro-Colombians and the globalized economic development imperatives faced by the Colombian state.
I will likely be posting about my research and writing as I go through the process, over the course of the next four months.