Development and Underdevelopment: Political Economy and Colonialism

Instructor: Lygia Sabbag Fares
This is an online course (Eastern Time)

What do we mean when we talk about economic development? Debates over development and underdevelopment blend questions of economic and political theory, economic history, colonialism and post-colonialism, and regional and cross-country comparison. In this course, we will explore the concept and practice of modern economic development, comparing mainstream and heterodox theories of development with the actual histories of development as they’ve unfolded in multiple states and regions throughout the globe. What is, and isn’t, development? How is it measured? What do countries do—or, in some cases, are made to do—to achieve some threshold of development? Are rich countries developed—and if so, why do they sometimes de-industrialize? Is underdevelopment a necessary precondition for development? Is the process globally symbiotic? Or does development entail definite winners and losers? Is development an end to itself, and, if not, what are the alternatives to development?

We’ll begin by examining concepts of development through several different economic lenses: Classical/Neoclassical, Marxian, Schumpeterian, and Keynesian. We’ll explore the history of capitalist development, from competitive to monopoly to so-called late capitalism, and the successive industrial revolutions that have propelled capitalist growth around the world. Next, we’ll discuss theories of underdevelopment and real-world examples in Southeastern Europe, Latin America, Africa, and Asia, and consider Giovanni Arrighi’s critique of “The Development Illusion.” We’ll also investigate the supposed connection between manufacturing and development, focusing particularly on the phenomenon of deindustrialization in developed countries, including the United States. What are the social, economic, and political consequences of deindustrialization, for both domestic and foreign populations? Finally, we’ll take a look at the UNDP 2019 Development Report and debate alternatives to conventional development—including theories of degrowth and Buen Vivir, and debates on solidarity and feminist economy. We will ask, how viable do these alternatives seem? What kinds of societies might they create in the countries we’ll be studying? Readings will be drawn from works by Giovanni Arrighi, Ha-Joon Chang, Albert Hirschman, Celso Furtado, Dani Rodrik, and Mariana Mazzucato, among others.

Course Schedule

Thursday, 6:30-9:30pm EST
March 10 — March 31, 2022
4 weeks


Registration Open

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