29 August 2009

All the king's men and the Development Studies Association

I am useless at managing my email inbox. I regularly get messages telling me my inbox is nearly full, prompting a junk email deletion frenzy. Most of these junk emails are challenging some aspect of my current status: are you leading your team successfully? are your computing costs as low as they could be? why aren't you on facebook yet? I especially like the ones that begin "Dear Ms. Haddad"--the ultimate challenge of status. On the work front, I have noticed a stream of emails, blogs and articles that challenge current development thinking on a wide array of topics--can we afford growth that is green and pro-poor? is the downturn changing gender balances of power in unexpected ways? will the credit crunch liberate us from an obsession with consumerism? is financial economics broken? is morality about to become a bigger part of policymaking? In other words, will all the king's horses and all the king's men be able to put Humpty Dumpty together again, or do we need an altogether less fragile and more nimble symbol for the way we reconstruct development in the 21st Century? These and other themes will be the centre of attention at the Development Studies Association's Annual Conference. I am currently the President of the Association and I hope to see you in Ulster, Coleraine, Sept 2-4.

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