Exploring the nexus of gender, liberalism and development

Exploring the nexus of gender, liberalism and development


28 Feb 2024    
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Event Type


28 February 2024 16:00–17:30 GMT

University of Sussex Room C133 in the Arts C building and online on Zoom.

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The struggles for international development are often blamed on the economic and social excesses of neoliberalism and the ways these produce, sustain and deepen inequalities globally. Gender is internationally recognised as a key dimension of these inequalities.

While neoliberalism has been widely critiqued, significantly liberal thought, on which neoliberalism is founded, has evaded critical scrutiny. In this Sussex Development Lecture, Professors Dunne and Crossouard from the University of Sussex, Centre for International Education will focus on gender to explore how the foundational principles of liberalism frame, shape and inform development. In this discussion they will refer to decolonial critiques of development, its liberal assumptions of western superiority and linear models of social and economic progress. Returning to gender the presenters critique how liberal assumptions of the human agent as autonomous, masculine and agentic remain entrenched within development discourse.

Using examples from research they illustrate that while gender has been recognised as a social construction, the SDGs and development discourses continue to assume and reinscribe gender as a decontextualised female/male dichotomy. Further, these understandings of gender are deployed as an indicator of progress, becoming technologies of power used to define and measure development. Against these liberal notions, they argue for development to embrace theories of gender that attend to its production within specific social and cultural contexts, and to the interdependencies that are integral to the social and material conditions of everyday lives.