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Future Brief Series No 3 (prt 2) Tracing the colonial roots of development cooperation

Colonial remnants in contemporary development cooperation
This future brief is the second part of a trilogy on the decolonisation of the development sector. In this edition, we tackle the present by building on the historical perspective of the first brief. It shows how the colonial elements have worked their way through our past into the present, affecting the development sector in complex ways. This brief employs the ‘iceberg model’ to explore what lies underneath, sustaining the ties between colonialism and development cooperation.

20 september 2022

From the tip of the iceberg to what lies beneath the surface

According to the model, at the tip of the iceberg lay observable behaviours and practices that often replicate colonial patterns. For example, communication products and the language and imagery they employ are concrete dimensions of development cooperation. Colonial elements along those dimensions are, thus, easier to identify. These more visible aspects, however, beg the question: what lays underneath, sustaining the ties between colonialism and development cooperation? The question pushes us to take a deep dive below the surface of development practices to consider the mindsets, attitudes and values making up the ‘deep structures’ that allow colonial elements to survive. This is exactly what this brief aims to do. We will first unpack mindsets, attitudes and values,  thereafter turning our attention to the tip of the iceberg to examine colonial elements along four dimensions:

  1. Language and imagery
  2. Knowledge, skills and expertise
  3. Fundraising and partnerships
  4. Human resource practices

The Future Brief is available 5 languages

A French, Spanish, Arabic, English and Dutch version of the Future Brief are available.

نسخة عربية من هذا المنتج متاحة.

Une version française de ce produit est disponible.

Una versión en español de este producto está disponible.

Een Nederlandse versie van dit product is beschikbaar.