This course explores contemporary global governance in practice, using case studies about the work of Multilateral Development Banks, like the World Bank and other regional development banks. Organisations like the World Bank have the potential to set the agenda for international development assistance, and traditionally have done so. However, geo-political changes at the start of the “Asian Century” are now leading to new and competing sources of development knowledge and finance. In this context, we explore the ideas, tools and policies that are typically used by Multilateral Development Banks to guide their operations and exert influence, including: the Sustainable Development Goals; loans for infrastructure; country-level reform packages; mechanisms for securing global public goods like biodiversity; rising private sector engagements; safeguards and grievance mechanisms; and indicators. We explore the power, efficacy and limitations of these global governance practices, revealing: (i) the social construction and political nature of global expertise; and (ii) how institutions like the World Bank are not monolithic, but are often subject to internal contestation and practical limitations, as they confront a wide variety of complex, real-world problems.
This course material has proven to be appropriate for EMD and MAAPD Masters students, as well as others in POGO, International Relations and Anthropology.
Upon successful completion, students will have the knowledge and skills to:
- Demonstrate and explain the role and significance of Multilateral Development Banks as global development institutions.
- Examine and critically analyse, in a practical and ethnographic way, Multilateral Development Banks and their influence in developing country contexts.
- Contribute to public debate about the potential future role of Multilateral Development Banks for human development and sustainability this century.
- Thematic essay (30) [LO 2]
- Country case study and presentation (50) [LO 1]
- Group Statement (20) [LO 3]
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30 hours lectures and seminars; 90 hours reading and writing
Use will be made of a variety of documents produced by the World bank and other Multilateral Development Banks (MDB), available online. In addition, students will be directed to read extracts from other publications containing critical discussions of World Bank and other MDB policies, procedures and practices, e.g.
Goldman, M., 2005. Imperial Nature: The World Bank and Struggles for Social Justice in the Age of Globalization. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Engle Merry, S. 2011 "Measuring the World: Indicators, Human Rights, and Global Governance" Current Anthropology 52, no. S3
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