Past Event

Decolonising development, imagining otherwise

20 October 2021 13:00–14:00


To mark Black History Month 2021 IDS is convening a seminar, along with the British Library for Development Studies (BLDS), that looks to explore the ways in which development can be viewed as a project that supports coloniality, while also aiding the reproduction of Western colonialist and orientalist views of Afro/Caribbean histories, communities and pedagogies.

Speaker Melz Owusu, academic, activist and director of the Free Black University will unpack ideas and logics that underpin principles of development that are rooted within colonial formations and persist in ensuring the continuation of neo-coloniality.

We will discuss the idea of Western modernity, and the harmful ways that creating multiple modernities can mirror the West through ‘development’ is problematic and urgently needs to be rethought. In order to begin this rethinking, we will explore how epistemology must be central to the discussion, and how this can open up a radical route to thinking through development with a decolonial lens. We will aim to understand how these entrenched ideas shape the world today, and what lessons can be taken from the BLDS collections about decolonising development.


  • Melz Owusu, (they/ them) is a person passionately, profoundly, and resolutely committed to Black liberation and Black spiritualities. They organise from a principle of liberation that asks us all to be daring enough to radically imagine and speculate about the futures we are committed to creating – and then bold enough to begin the work of building these new worlds. Their practice is informed by their lived experience as a Black queer transgender neurodiverse working-class individual deeply connected to community.
  • Danny Millum, project officer working on the British Library for Development Studies Legacy Collection.


  • Dieunedort Wandji, Research Officer at IDS with a regional focus is sub-Saharan Africa, with research interests in border areas, transnational security, transborder mobility, and regional integration policies.
  • Gauthier Marchais, Research Fellow and part of the Governance Cluster at IDS.

Key contacts

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