File(s) under permanent embargo
Recognition, coloniality and international development: a case study of the Nubians and the Kenya slum upgrading project
journal contributionposted on 2017-01-02, 00:00 authored by Sam Balaton-ChrimesSam Balaton-Chrimes
In response to the provocation of this special issue, about the extent to which we might be ‘beyond recognition’ out of concern for its colonising tendencies, this paper enquires into norms of recognition in international development. The paper establishes development as a site in which governmentality operates (following Tania Murray Li), in which coloniality is at play, and which also forms a field of recognition. I provide an analysis of a land-based recognition claim by the minority ethnic Nubians in Kenya, and the non-recognition of this claim by the Kenya Slum Upgrading Project. The paper identifies three particular explanations for this non-recognition, all of which exhibit coloniality: the epistemic context, the programmatic nature of the development and hierarchies of personnel. Together, these phenomena precluded the project from engaging in the difficult but necessary discussion around the Nubians’ claim because it was too political. The paper concludes that though we have cause to be concerned about the effects of coloniality on recognition regimes partly constituted by international development, international development has its limits in the milieu in which it operates, and political subjects can and do turn away from it to engage other, albeit imbricated, fields of recognition.