At the end of this week, the 10th annual David Morrison Lecture in International Development will be hosted in downtown Peterborough. Each year, this lecture series aims to bring a distinguished international development scholar to disseminate their knowledge across the Trent and Peterborough community.
This year’s guest speaker is Dr. Ha-Joon Chang, a professor and author in developmental economics at the University of Cambridge. The address he will be delivering is entitled “Are Some Countries Destined for Under-Development?”. It will focus on critiques of various theoretical approaches to analyses of the poor economic performance of certain developing countries- namely those within Sub-Saharan Africa.
Chang earned his PhD from Cambridge in 1991, where he studied under Dr. Robert Rowthorn, one of Britain’s most prominent heterodox academics. Renowned for his contributions to economic theories that defy the neoclassical approach currently dominating much of western intelligentsia, Chang’s institution-oriented methodology puts economic history and socio-political conditions at the forefront of his studies. This unique perspective juxtaposes the assertion often espoused by mainstream economists and political scientists that many developing countries are “destined” suffer poor economic conditions due to perpetual factors such as climate, geography, and culture.
Rather, Chang’s work suggests that much of the economic development that took place during the 19th century and beyond within the west has been achieved largely at the expense of other nations via economic interventionist policies. Since the late 1970s, this has cumulated in a process he calls “kicking the ladder” in which developing countries are prevented from implementing such policies- namely raising tariffs and subsidizing industry. Chang’s work indicates that the narrative that a need for unrestrained free trade across the globe is largely false. It also sees much of the current discourse surrounding the lack of improved economic output in developing countries as attempting to “explain away” the fact that neoliberal policies have failed in delivering positive results for said nations.
Chang’s books have sold over 2 million copies worldwide, and he is often regarded as one of the world’s most renowned academics. In 2014, he was ranked number 9 in Prospect Magazine’s World Thinkers poll. His address will begin at 7:30PM on September 28th at the Market Hall Performing Arts Centre. I would highly encourage any Trent student with even a mild interest in international politics to take advantage of this unique and exciting opportunity.