Demolishing development myths: alternative theories of economic development

For centuries economics was at its very core an art, a practice and a science devoted to ‘economic development’, albeit under a variety of labels: from an idealistic promotion of ‘public happiness’ to the nationalistic creation of wealth and greatness of nations and rulers, and the winning of wars. So in some sense, until about a hundred years ago, most economists were ‘development economists’. Yet the emergence of development economics as a separate stream coincided with an obsession with formalisation in the discipline of economics in which much insight and nuance was effectively lost. This seminar attempts to cover a huge canvas, in both time and geography, in order to illustrate processes of economic development from many different angles, with analysis and perspectives from all continents, and based on the kind of objectivity that is best achieved by observing a phenomenon from as many angles as possible. In the process, many supposed axioms of mainstream development theory are revealed to be no more than myths.