Africa through Blair's commission and the Eritrean story: development beyond neoliberal deadlock and the embattled postcolonial-state

Gime, A 2019, Africa through Blair's commission and the Eritrean story: development beyond neoliberal deadlock and the embattled postcolonial-state, Doctor of Philosophy (PhD), Global, Urban & Social Studies, RMIT University.


Document type: Thesis
Collection: Theses

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Title Africa through Blair's commission and the Eritrean story: development beyond neoliberal deadlock and the embattled postcolonial-state
Author(s) Gime, A
Year 2019
Abstract Against the backdrop of a contested neoliberal global regime, this thesis inquires into the theoretical and practical underpinnings of `African development' using Blair's Commission for Africa and Eritrea as case studies. The thesis critically reviews the British Government sponsored enquiry Our Common Interest: Report of the Commission for Africa (2005) as an embodiment of the belief that neoliberal economic policies and liberal democratic reform can offset adverse developmental conditions across sub-Saharan Africa. The thesis contrasts how African states, socialist Eritrea as a specific example, get around the neoliberal global order heralded by the Blair Commission. `Development' holds different meaning for specific actors because of underlying and often contradictory interests; dominant and subaltern groups rationalise development differently through their respective discourses. To map a consistent approach to African development, the thesis weighs specific questions about the basic character of development. The thesis therefore interrogates the link between the particular type of development discourse, social reality and practical change insofar as external prescriptive and internal voluntaristic approaches to development go. 

Understanding the politics of development through the dichotomous examples of the Blair Commission and Eritrean State policies is important to consider a kind of development congruent with the African realities. Dominant discourses of development like Blair's proposal for Africa engender powerful narratives that don't necessarily reflect how the subjects of development perceive themselves, their conditions and their future. The thesis utilises a comparative historical analysis to explain how different groups account for development according to particular historical experience and political interests and objectives.

The thesis argues that the monolithic approach defining the Blair Commission's development blueprint has a tendency to contradict any popular organic quality that the (African) development process may have. The thesis takes issue with the Blair Commission's presentation of its development paradigm as of universal validity while unmasking its underlying ideological underpinnings. It argues that the Commission's mix of assumptions, methods and conclusions endorse a free market development model and representative democracy for the region. The initiative could be perceived largely as a vehicle for the cultivation of material interests on behalf of a very tiny minority of transnational elites, not the African masses. Despite its problems, Eritrea's historical materialist conception of development through struggle reflects an alternative way of thinking about and practicing development in the region. The Eritrean experiment of independent national development is examined as a contrasting model of sub-Saharan Africa development.
Degree Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
Institution RMIT University
School, Department or Centre Global, Urban & Social Studies
Subjects International and Development Communication
Sociology and Social Studies of Science and Technology
Keyword(s) Neoliberalism
Commission for Africa
History and Politics of African development
Eritrea
Alternative development
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Created: Mon, 30 Sep 2019, 15:22:02 EST by Adam Rivett
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