In this special episode of the IDS Between the Lines podcast, IDS Researcher Stephen Thompson and IDS Research Officer Mariah Cannon interview Professor Robert Chambers who is one of the most influential and prolific scholars to write about participation, poverty, and knowledge in development studies.
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For years, international development has traditionally been dominated by ‘experts’ in the global North telling ‘poor people’ in the global South how their lives could be improved. Robert’s writing and thinking, however revolutionised the discipline, inspiring both participatory processes and a more inclusive practice.
Released to coincide with the publication of the new IDS Bulletin – Power, Poverty, and Knowledge – Reflecting on 50 Years of Learning with Robert Chambers – the interview looks back on Robert’s career over five decades of publishing in the Bulletin and how his research has changed over the years.
In the interview Robert talks about the importance of workshops and talking to people to further research ideas; How his work has changed from focusing on rural development to more urban development. He also talks about his early time in Kenya in the late 1950’s and going back four years ago to see how much has changed with regards to technology and connectivity.
This interview is a fascinating insight into Robert’s career, his publishing legacy with the IDS Bulletin and a history lesson on how development research has evolved over the last 50 years.
About the interviewee
Professor Robert Chambers has a background in biology, history and public administration. His current concerns and interests include professionalism, power, the personal dimension in development, participatory methodologies, epistemology, poverty, stunting, teaching and learning with large numbers, and work on sanitation and hygiene with the Sanitation Learning Hub. His work continues to inspire and provoke debate and discussion among development practitioners, activists, and academics from around the world.
About the Interviewers
Stephen Thompson is a researcher who has worked across the disciplines of geography and international development since 2007. He is a Research Fellow in the Participation, Inclusion, and Social Change research cluster at IDS, and contributes to teaching on the MA programme in Development Studies. His research mainly focuses on the themes of social justice and inclusion, with a particular interest in disability inclusion in low‑income contexts. Stephen has previously worked in the field of evidence use and policy creation. He has research interests in education (with a particular focus on inclusive education and tertiary education), participatory methodologies, and sustainable development.
Mariah Cannon is a Research Officer at the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), where she has been part of the Participation, Inclusion, and Social Change research cluster since 2017. She holds an MA in Development Studies from IDS. Mariah’s current work focuses on children’s and youth’s participation in promoting children’s rights and tackling the worst forms of child labour. She has a particular interest in adapting participatory methods to use with different groups and across various thematic areas.
About the Between the Lines podcast
This podcast series explores ground-breaking ideas in development for positive social and environmental change. Each month we feature an interview with an expert in international development who will talk about their latest research and ideas.
Episodes content could feature authors of new books, IDS research or interviews with special guest stars.
The discussions give an insight on the themes covered, exploring the challenges and discoveries, and why the issues matter for progressive and sustainable development globally.
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