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Representing Development: Mediating Alternatives across Ambiguous Discourses

November 30, 2016 @ 1:00 pm - 2:00 pm

Location: CA110, Cairnes Building, NUI Galway Ireland Ireland

Speaker(s): Dr Kathy Reilly and Ms Natasha Keenaghan

Affiliation: Discipline of Geography

Organised by: Whitaker Institute

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This paper considers how development as both a discourse and a practice in the Global South becomes mediated in the Global North. To begin, the presentation focuses on a series of short plea-films produced for the Comic Relief 2013 campaign, examining how poverty and development are constructed by the media for public consumption. In particular we explore the role of the ‘celebrity witness’ in scripting hegemonic narratives about people and poverty, considering how such narratives become prioritised at the expense of local complexities and contextual nuance in and across the Global South. Subsequently, building on the critique offered by Escobar (2005) we consider the emergence of social entrepreneurship as an alternative discourse to traditional charity-based forms of development interventionism. Reflecting this emerging context, the paper introduces six case-study NGOs representative of a growing continuum of organisations within the development sector. These case studies range from traditional charity-based NGOs to social entrepreneurships working in development contexts. Finally, the paper will outline a proposed methodological framework to critically examine development discourse as represented through NGO campaign imagery, text and website architecture(s). In doing so, the paper considers how this project offers a new perspective on the imagined geographies of development interventionism.


This seminar is one of a series of seminars in the Whitaker Ideas Forum seminar series.  Our speakers will be representing the Environment, Development, and Sustainability Research Cluster.