Skip to content
Loading Events

Racism and Development: How much do Black Lives Matter in Global Development?

03/07/2020 @ 1:30 pm - 2:45 pm

In this webinar, we explore the extent and impact of racism in global development. Our speakers are

Dr Althea-Maria Rivas – SOAS

Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey – University of Oxford

Dr Kalpana Wilson– Birkbeck (Geography Dept)


A recording of the event is available on YouTube and here:


A catalyst to re-examine history

The public 25 May killing of George Floyd by white police galvanised mass action and protests in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement. It acted as a catalyst for an urgent re-examination of the legacy of colonial and imperial history. Civil society activists are now intensifying calls to revisit, unpack, expose and confront the institutional and systemic racism that has been promulgated by the Aid industry under the auspices of development.

Indeed, as the INGO safeguarding scandal revealed, the system has shored-up and reproduced relationships of privilege/poverty, domination/subordination under the guise of addressing inequalities.


Photo: Matteo Paganelli

Where does the money go?

In 2015, only 2% of humanitarian funding went directly to local NGOs in the Global South. The agenda, policies and practice are set by a system that has on a very basic level failed to keep the vulnerable safe. In the UK where Black workers with degrees earn on average 23.1% less than white workers, challenging racism within the global development sphere has been made even more urgent by the recent announcement that the Department for International Development (DFID) is to be scrapped and combined with the Foreign Office. The future remains to be seen: but clearly the risk is that the discourse of development is simply used to mask Britain’s trade and foreign policy interests.


The panel

Dr Althea-Maria Rivas (SOAS) focuses on exploring the politics of development, conflict, humanitarian intervention and peace through the lens of the everyday. Her work goes beyond traditional state-centric investigations into development, peace and security and links the local to the global by interrogating everyday relationships, affect and identity.  A central theme in her work is intersectionality, specifically the racialised and gendered nature of processes of aid, post-conflict reconstruction and social justice. Her insights are the resuls of extensive fieldwork areas in affected by conflict and international intervention. Consequently, she has  developed an academic interest in research ethics and methodologies. Some of which are explored in Fieldwork Interrupted:  Experiences with Violent Research and Researching Violence (2018). Before starting her academic career, she worked for 12 years in the areas of diplomacy, post-conflict reconstruction, humanitarian assistance, gender and development and governance with various INGOs, and local and international organisations in Africa, Asia, the Caribbean and the Middle East. She is Convener of the MSc Humanitarianism, Aid and Conflict course.


Dr Robtel Neajai Pailey (University of Oxford) is a Liberian academic, activist and author of the forthcoming monograph Development, (Dual) Citizenship and Its Discontents in Africa: The Political Economy of Belonging to Liberia (Cambridge University Press, 2021). With more than 15 years of combined personal and professional experiences at the intersection of scholarship, policy and practice in Africa, Europe and North America, she has expertise in the political economy of development, migration, conflict, post-war recovery and governance. Previously an Ibrahim Leadership Fellow at the African Development Bank Group (AfDB) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire, Robtel currently serves as Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Oxford’s Department of International Development (ODID) in Oxford, UK, where she conducts research on race, citizenship, ‘South-South’ migration and development cooperation in Liberia and Sierra Leone.


Dr Kalpana Wilson (Birkbeck) is a Lecturer in Geography and her research explores questions of race/gender, labour, neoliberalism, and reproductive rights and justice, with a particular focus on South Asia and its diasporas. She is the author of ‘Race, Racism and Development: Interrogating History, Discourse and Practice’ (Zed Books, 2012) and has published widely on race, gender, international development, women’s agency and rural labour movements.


Join the conversation

As part of our work for social justice and equity, we invite you to join the conversation as we ask ‘How much do Black lives matter in Global Development?’

The event will be hosted by LIDC’s Director, Professor Claire Heffernan.

The hashtag is #LIDCSeminars and we tweet @LIDC_UK

We look forward to seeing you online on 3 July!


United Kingdom
+ Google Map


Scroll To Top