TAFACDP75U Optional course: Critical Development Planning and Policy: Africa Focus

Volume 2017/2018

MA programme in African Studies


This course aims to provide students with a combination of interdisciplinary analytical and practical skills for engaging critically with the challenges of development planning and policy analysis in relation to African contexts. It will include at least three dimensions: firstly, it will introduce critical theoretical approaches to the very notion of ‘development’ and the politics of ‘doing good’, as well as to the ideas and practices of policy making; secondly, it will prepare students for analysing different kinds of development planning processes, practices and policies in their historical-political-social-economic contexts; and thirdly, it will provide students with critically conscious yet practical skills for planning concrete development projects and undertaking critical readings of actual policies.  

Learning Outcome

Taking African contexts and examples as the empirical grounding, students will gain critical theoretical and analytical insights on the one hand, and selected practical skills on the other, in relation to:

  • development planning and policy processes in general


  • concrete policies and policy making processes and practices


  • concrete development project planning approaches and practices


This is only indicative of the literature that might be used, which will be supplemented with practical-oriented literature on development planning, and selected policy documents:

Apthorpe, Raymond, and Des Gasper, eds. 1996.  ‘Introduction: Discourse Analysis and Policy Discourse’, The European Journal of Development Research, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 1-15. (15 pages)

Bacchi, Carol, 2000. ‘Policy as Discourse: What does it mean? Where does it get us?’, Discourse: Studies in the Cultural Politics of Education, Vol21, No. 1, pp. 45-57 (13 pages)
Bierschenk, Thomas, 2008.  ‘Anthropology and Development. An historicizing and localizing approach‘.  Working Paper 87a, Institut für Ethnologie und Afrikastudien, Johannes Gutenberg-Universität, Mainz (23 pages)

Bornstein, Erica, 2001. ‘Child Sponsorship, Evangelism, and Belonging in the Work of World Vision Zimbabwe’, American Ethnologist, Vol. 28, No. 3, pp. 595-622 (28 pages)

Chant, Sylvia, 2000. ‘From ‘Woman-Blind’ to ‘Man-kind’. Should men have more space in gender and development?’ IDS Bulletin Vol. 31, No. 2, pp. 7-17 (11 pages)

Cornwall, Andrea, 2003. ‘Whose Voices? Whose Choices? Reflections on Gender and Participatory Development’, World Development, Vol. 31, No. 8, pp. 1325–1342 (18 pages)

Cornwall, Andrea, 2007. ‘Buzzwords and fuzzwords: deconstructing development discourse’, Development in Practice, Vol. 17, Nos. 4-5, pp. 471-484 (14 pages)

Cowen, Michael and Robert Shenton, 1995. ‘The Invention of Development’, in Jonathan Crush, Power of Development, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 27-43 (17 pages) + bibliography pp. 278-311 (35 pages)

Crush, Jonathan, 1995. ‘Introduction. Imagining Development’, in Jonathan Crush (ed), Power of

Development, London and New York: Routledge, pp. 1-23 (23 pages)

Edelmann, Marc and Angelique Haugerud, 2007 (2004), ‘Development’, in David Nugent and Joan Vincent (eds), A Companion to the Anthropology of Politics , Malden, Oxford and Carlton: Blackwell Publishing, pp. 86-106 (21 pages)

Esteva, Gustavo, 1992. ‘Development’, in Wolfgang Sachs (ed), The Development Dictionary. A Guide to Knowledge as Power, London and New Jersey: Zed Books, pp. 6-25 (20 pages).

Eyben, Rosalind, 2016. Debating Empowerment: A Case Study of Knowledge Practices in the Development Assistance Committee’, in Kjell Havnevik, Terje Østergaard, Eva Tobisson and Tea Virtanen (eds), Framing African Development. Challenging Concepts, Leiden and Boston: Brill, pp. pp. 62-89 (29 pages)

Fisher, William F., 1997. ‘Doing good? The politics and anti-politics of NGO practices’, Annual Review of Anthropology, Vol. 26, pp. 439-464 (26 pages)

Gasper, Des, 1996. ‘Analysing Policy Arguments’, The European Journal of Development Research, Vol. 8, No. 1, pp. 36-62. (28 pages)

Goulet, Denis, 2004. ‘Changing Development Debates Under Globalization: The Evolving Nature of Development in the Light of Globalization’, Journal of Law and Social Challenges, Vol. 6, No. 1, pp. 1-17 (17 pages)

Green, Maia, 2000. ‘

Groenmeyer, Marianne, 1992. ‘Helping’, in Wolfgang Sachs (ed), The Development Dictionary. A Guide to Knowledge as Power, London and New Jersey: Zed Books, pp. 53-69 (15 pages)

Kelsall, Tim and David Booth et al, 2010. ‘Developmental Patrimonialism? Questioning the orthodoxy on political governance and economic progress in Africa’, Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP) Working Paper No. 9, London: ODI (33 pages)

Li, Tania Murray, 2007. The Will to Improve. Governmentality, Development, and the Practice of Politics, Durham and London: Duke University Press, Introduction pp. 1-30 + Notes, pp. 285-293 (total 39 pages).

Manji, Firoz, and Carl O’Coill, 2002. ‘The Missionary Position: NGOs and development in Africa’, International Affairs, Vol. 78, No. 3, pp. 567-583 (17 pages)

Malkki, Liisa H., 2015. ‘Professionals Abroad’, in The Need to Help. The Domestic Arts of International Humanitarianism’. Durham and London: Duke University Press, pp. 23 – 52 (30 pages)

McKay, Ramah, 2012. ‘AFTERLIVES: Humanitarian Histories and Cultural Subjects in Mozambique’, Cultural Anthropology, Vol. 27, No. 2, pp. 286- 309 (24 pages)
Hearn, Julie, 2007. ‘African NGOs: The New Compradors?’, Development and Change38, No. 6, pp. 1095–1110 (16 pages)

Moser, Caroline, 1989. ’Gender Planning in the Third World: Meeting Practical and Strategic Gender Needs’, World Development, Vol. 17, No. 11, pp. 1799-1825 (27 pages)

Mosse, David, 2004. ‘Is Good Policy Unimplementable? Reflections on the Ethnography of Aid Policy and Practice’, Development and Change, Vol. 35, Issue 4, pp. 639–671 (33 pages)

Parpart, Jane L., 1993. ‘Vol. 24, pp. 439-464 (26 pages)

Rankin, Katharine N., 2009.’ Critical development studies and the praxis of planning’, City, Vol. 13, Nos. 2-3, pp. 219-229 (11 pages)

Roe, Emery M., 1991. ‘Development Narratives, Or Making the Best of Blueprint Development’, World Development, Vol. 19, No. 4, pp. 287-300 (14 pages)

Roe, Emery M., 1995. ‘Except-Africa: Postscript to a Special Section on Development Narratives’, World Development, Vol. 23, No.6, pp. 1065-1069 (5 pages)

Olivier de Sardan, Jean-Pierre, 2005. Anthropology and Development. Understanding contemporary social change.

Schuurman, Frans J., 2009. ‘Critical Development Theory: moving out of the twilight zone’, Third World Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 5, pp. 831–848 (18 pages)

Sylvester, Christine, 1999. Development Studies and postcolonial studies: disparate tails of the ‘Third World’’, Third World Quarterly, Vo. 20, No. 4, pp. 703-721(19 pages)

Yarrow, Thomas, 2008. Life/History: Personal Narratives of Development Amongst NGO Workers and Activists in Ghana’, Africa, Vol. 78, No.3, pp. 334-358 (27 pages)

The course will be run in Spring 2018, most likely in a condensed period with a series of 3-hour sessions. It will include a mix of the following teaching and learning methods:

o Lectures on key theoretical aspects of development, policy analysis and planning
o Group-work on critical policy analysis
o Group preparation and workshopping of country-focused project planning portfolios
o Guest lectures by development practitioners and policy makers
o Round-table panel of development experts working on/in Africa
o Reflective writing exercises

Students will be encouraged to draw on and share their own previous experience of working in ‘development’ settings where relevant but such experience is not a pre-requisite for the course.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 28
  • Total
  • 28
7,5 ECTS
Type of assessment
Written assignment
Marking scale
7-point grading scale
Censorship form
External censorship
Exam period

January 2017

For more information please see here: https://intranet.ku.dk/africanstudies_ma/examination/examinationtimeschedule/Pages/default.aspx

Criteria for exam assesment

The grade of 12 is given at the exam when the student demonstrates:

  • Confident ability to identify and define a sub-topic and an issue of relevance to the overall theme of the optional course.
  • Confident ability to independently and critically select relevant literature on the sub-topic to be studied.
  • Confident ability to independently and critically analyse the sub-topic in question and the chosen literature.
  • Confident ability to conduct an interdisciplinary analysis of the sub-topic in question and to place it within the overall theme of the optional course in question.
  • Confident ability to communicate academic material in a clear, concise and well-argued manner.