skip to content

Centre of Development Studies


The Centre of Development Studies Seminar Series focuses on issues central to the study of Development and practices in Development. Beyond this, the series is diverse in intellectual, theoretical, and empirical approaches, reflecting this diversity found in our Centre as well. 

All seminars take place on Thursdays from 3:30pm to 5:00pm in room SG1/2 in the Alison Richard Building.

For more information, please contact series coordinator, Dr Jostein Hauge


Easter Term 2023


11 May

Speaker: Kathryn Hochstetler (LSE)

Title: Political Economies of Energy Transition: Wind and Solar Power in Brazil and South Africa

Abstract: Global climate solutions depend on low-carbon energy transitions in developing countries, but little is known about how those will unfold. Examining the transitions of Brazil and South Africa, Hochstetler reveals how choices about wind and solar power respond to four different constellations of interests and institutions, or four simultaneous political economies of energy transition. The political economy of climate change set Brazil and South Africa on different tracks, with South Africa's coal-based electricity system fighting against an existential threat. Since deforestation dominates Brazil's climate emissions, climate concerns were secondary there for electricity planning. Both saw significant mobilization around industrial policy and cost and consumption issues, showing the importance of economic considerations for electricity choices in emerging economies. Host communities resisted Brazilian wind power, but accepted other forms. Hochstetler argues that national energy transition finally depends on the intersection of these political economies, with South Africa illustrating a politicized transition mode and Brazil presenting a bureaucracy-dominant one.


18 May

Speakers: Ingrid Harvold Kvangraven (King's College London), Surbhi Kesar (SOAS).

Title: Standing in the Way of Rigor: Economics’ Meeting with the Decolonization Agenda

AbstractThis article critically discusses the scope for decolonizing economics teaching. It scrutinizes what it would entail in terms of theory, methods, and pedagogy, and its implications for scholars grappling with issues related to economics teaching. Based on a survey of 498 respondents, it explores how economists across different types of departments (economics/heterodox/non-economics), geographical locations, and identities assess challenges to economics teaching, how they understand the relevance of calls for decolonization, and how they believe economics teaching should be reformed. Based on the survey findings, the article concludes that the field’s emphasis on advancing economics as an objective social science free from political contestations, based on narrow theoretical and methodological frameworks and a privileging of technical training associated with a limited understanding of rigor, likely stands in the way of the decolonization of economics. Indeed, key concepts of the decolonization agenda—centering structural power relations, critically examining the vantage point from which theorization takes place and unpacking the politics of knowledge production—stand in sharp contrast to the current priorities of the economics field as well as key strands of IPE. Finally, the article charts out the challenges that decolonizing economics teaching entails and identifies potential for change.


25 May  Register Now

Speaker: Boram Lee (LSE)

Title: Silent Networks in the Electoral Spotlight: Activist Coalitions and Diffusion of Global Corporate Norms

Abstract: Under what conditions do governments discipline powerful multinational companies for breaching global corporate norms? Existing IR theories have shown that peer monitoring and transnational advocacy are crucial strategies that shine a spotlight on norm violations. Despite the importance of those strategies, governments in the Global North have not consistently condemned their home-grown multinational companies for breaking norms related to climate or human rights in the Global South. This paper argues that the effect of such spotlighting is crucially moderated by electoral institutions, and legislators in proportional representation systems are more likely than those in majoritarian systems to push multinational companies to comply with global norms when such issues are in the spotlight. I find supporting evidence from the OECD Guidelines’ Specific Instance process and case studies. This article shows that traditional strategies to promote norm compliance, such as transnational advocacy and peer pressure, work differently in different countries, and electoral systems in the Global North can have unintended distributional consequences for norm beneficiaries.



08 June  Register Now

Speaker: Robert Mattes (University of Strathclyde)

Title: Mapping State Capacity in Africa: Professionalism and Reach

Abstract: Whether depicted as bloated, extractive, or remote from the lives of ordinary citizens, the African state is widely seen to lack the necessary capacity to provide for the physical and material security of its citizens or to command legitimacy. Yet scholars have rarely attempted to assess the performance of the African state through the prism of the lived experiences of those whom the state is meant to serve – its citizens. Most studies rely on data supplied by national statistics agencies or the judgments of expert observers. And while scholars acknowledge that the quality of the African state is likely shaped by geographic and ethnic differences within countries, few have measured how state capacity varies at the sub-national level. In this paper, we address this situation by using survey research measures of respondents’ proximity to state services and actual experiences with civil servants to measure two distinct dimensions of the state salient to the African context: its reach, or physical presence at the grassroots across the breadth of a country, and its professionalism, or ability to deliver public services in a proficient and ethical manner. The results reveal new perspectives on which states excel on either or both dimensions. They also illustrate how widely state performance varies at the sub-national level. Finally, we use survey data to assess the performance of the state, and show that it is the degree of professionalism, and sometimes reach, that enables the state to provide security and welfare, satisfy demands, and secure popular legitimacy. But in contrast to usual expectations, the size of the state at senior levels has no impact.