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Sustaining Inequality – The Neocolonial Politics of Development Education, North-South Volunteering and Fair Trade in Germany

by glokal
2 Apr 2016 • Comment (0) • Print
Posted: NeoColonial Politics of Sustainability [13] | Article


German policy on sustainable development aims at encouraging the shaping of a more just and sustainable world marked by solidarity. Yet, it may also facilitate the perpetuation of existing hierarchies and the strengthening of certain societal or global spectra at the expense of others. This paper is a critique of neocolonial discourses and practices in the field of international development in Germany. Such a perspective recognises that colonialism is an ongoing process and that the “responsibility cannot be ignored by those who find themselves part of those societies which enforce [neocolonialism]”.[1] The objective is to explore in how far, and to what effect, German development endeavours broach or neglect neocolonial power relations. We provide insight into dominant narratives and omissions in three particular areas of international development by Germany: development education materials, North-South volunteer service, and fair trade.

In addition to general deliberations on how and why postcolonial perspectives can be fruitfully applied to the field of development,[2] scholars have explored the continuation of colonial-era relationships between donor and recipient countries,[3] the impact of racialisation in development,[4] the intertwining of gender and “race”,[5] subjectivities of development workers,[6] and geographical imaginations and practices.[7] Postcolonial critiques of international development to date have focused on activities by British,[8] and to a lesser degree Canadian[9] and Scandinavian[10] development practices. The colonial present in German development remains largely under-researched. Previous analyses of the German context and inspired by postcolonial theory have examined charity advertisements,[11] reproductive health and population policy,[12] and school books[13] as well as school partnerships.[14] The place of sustainability in Germany’s development policy is yet to come under scrutiny.

Today’s participants of development education and volunteer services as well as young consumers of fair trade products – especially in light of the target group being mainly bourgeois or well-off – are tomorrow’s decision-makers with regard to economic, foreign, ecological, and migration policy. Focusing on Germany not only seems timely because of its colonial history, but also its place in the world today. It is the European Union’s largest, and the world’s second largest, aid donor.[15] What is even more crucial: Germany is the largest national economy in Europe, and globally the fourth- or fifth-largest by GDP (depending on whether based on nominal or PPP measurement). In light of Germany’s own colonial past and present as well as its dominant global position, analysing the potentially neocolonial politics of Germany’s sustainability agenda in development is indispensable for tackling unequal power relations in the global context.

We focus on the textual, discursive side of politics in this paper. We perceive of discourses not as an abstraction from reality, which clouds what is really occurring; rather, discourses mediate reality, affect what is seen as true, are linked to actual practices, and are intertwined with institutions and to the political-economic environment.[16] As development is a fundamentally textual arena, development scholars commonly resort to publications to understand the colonial imprint on the knowledge represented and produced, the practices proposed and undertaken, and the agents constructed and invoked.[17] In line with such approaches, we follow David Slater and Morag Bell by employing

the post-colonial as a critical mode of enquiry [...] to pose a series of questions concerning [Development Education materials, authors’ note] as ‘sites of enunciation’: For example, who are the agents of knowledge, where are they located, for whom do they speak, how do they conceptualize, where are the analytical silences, who is being empowered and who is being marginalized?.[18]

The article proceeds as follows: First we examine how sustainability is broached in the materials of Development Education (DE). Then we provide an analysis of how the state North-South volunteer program weltwärts deals with issues of sustainability. Finally, we analyse how the area of Fair Trade fares in light of an analytical perspective of neocolonialism. We argue that Germany’s sustainability agenda in the fields under scrutiny tends to contribute to sustaining neocolonial relations of inequality at the global level by disregarding the imprint of the colonial past on our present.

Development Education

What is discussed under the label of Global Citizen Education in the Anglo-American context is most commonly referred to as Education for Sustainable Development and Global Learning in Germany. Even though these two approaches have different histories and, at times, use different focal points, they mostly evidence congruence and are thus merged here under the term Development Education. This section is based on an extensive analysis of materials for DE in Germany that are accessible as printed method booklets, as websites or as downloads, and which are applied by NGOs, teachers and multipliers as guidance for their own educational work.[19] From a wealth of material, we selected and analysed over a hundred sources and core documents dating from 2007 (in some cases, from 2002) to 2012.

One of the central criticisms of the dominant discourse on, and practice of, ‘sustainable development’ has been its function to obscure the inherent contradiction between the preservation of nature and a capitalist economic system based on growth.[20] This is also observable in DE in Germany:

Permanent economic performance as one of the objectives of sustainable development could be defined as economic activity that both safeguards the natural capital stock in the long term and creates new possibilities for socially and ecologically sound income generation through investments. [...] There is more or less consent in economics that at the end of the day economic growth is necessary for that.[21]

The quote evidences that economic development is equated with capitalist economic growth. This is not marked as ideological: Capitalism is not characterised as a particular, potentially problematic economic system, but as quasi-natural law and without alternative. The alleged universality of capitalist ‘development’ is underlined by the reference to “economics”, which serves as scientific legitimiser. Rather than discussing the pros and cons of capitalism with regard to sustainability, which some exceptional materials undertake,[22] capitalist economic growth is put forward as the solution to ecological issues.

A lack of structural and/or political perspectives on ‘sustainable development’ is also evident in the way DE critically examines ‘our’ consumption and way of life:

Imagine … You have flown to the paradise of your dreams and you are being pampered by people who like their job. Because they earn enough money to live off and are themselves able to once in awhile go on holidays. Culture and nature in this paradise are protected. Delicious regional dishes of high quality are available. Flying is more or less free from emissions, and, additionally, trees are planted to curb the effects…[23]

Consumerism is not criticised as a political issue: wealth and poverty are not seen as related, deeply entrenched, global power relations and clashes of interest seem non-existent. Instead the material exhibits a fantasy of sustainability according to which ‘our’ present privileged lifestyle can be preserved without trade-offs, and can even be extended to those far-away ‘others’ who are to date being excluded and exploited. Critical debates on climate economisation or on neoliberal practices of sustainability and green capitalism are ignored.[24] At the same time, and tellingly, the global division of labour remains untouched in this example of a sustainable tourism industry. The fantasy of an omnipotence of the privileged runs through the materials. Rather than suggesting humility in light of the historical and present responsibility of wealthy societies and people in terms of ecological destruction and human exploitation, German students are addressed as “climate savers”[25] and therefore supplied with the power to act in the name of ‘sustainable development’. Furthermore, German students, as well as the Global North more generally, are being politically and socially reduced to consumers.

It is noticeable that the materials see the concept of ‘sustainable development’ as beyond debate and unquestionably positive. Even when critical debates are encouraged, ‘sustainable development’ remains the sine-qua-non. Thus, participants are, for instance, asked

to position themselves through critical reflection with regard to questions of globalisation and development, while orientating themselves at the international consensus, the overall concept of sustainable development and human rights.[26]

Given that sustainable development is presented as an international consensus, there is no critical debate on the concept as such, nor are students invited to find out about the disputes that accompanied the formulation of this so-called consensus.[27] Perspectives that fundamentally question the dominant conceptualisation of ‘sustainability’ because “the visions associated with the concept did not break with the hegemonic norms of economic growth and a capitalist property order”[28] or with patriarchal structures,[29] are commonly not mentioned.

Consequently, “different ways of seeing the future, in non-developmental ways, not in quantitative ways, but other ways of caring for life, human life and all life on the planet”[30] – e.g. buenvivir, degrowth, deglobalisation, eco-feminism, eco-socialism, food sovereignty, solidarity economy, commons etc. – are only rarely touched upon in the material.[31] DE hence not only tends to ignore activist discussions and practices on these questions, but also the academic debates on the limitations and pitfalls of discourses on sustainability and development more widely.[32] Instead, it contributes to stifling critical thought process by stressing the universal validity of sustainable development as an “obligation under international law”,[33] thereby selling the dominant, capitalist notion as objective truth and as is in our common interest. Instead of suggesting that “[w]e are all equally interconnected, we all want the same thing, we can all do the same thing”, critical DE should discuss “asymmetrical globalisation, unequal power relations, [and ] Northern and Southern elites imposing [their] own assumptions as universal”.[34]

As a consequence of this depoliticised approach to development, the materials propose rather limited courses for action. For example, VENRO, the umbrella organisation of development NGOs in Germany, suggests “school partnerships, charity runs, and information events, world music evenings and film screenings, international chats and online discussions, school-worldshops and climate schools as well as participation in various campaigns of development policy”.[35] In our analysis of the materials, we found that three different approaches of participant activation are predominant. First of all, many materials evidence the strategic focus on collecting donations for development projects and programmes. The approach of mixing DE with fund-raising inhibits critical educational perspectives. The second tendency in DE is to propose activities that encompass getting to know the ‘Other’ in the vicinity (e.g. “foreign children in the class”[36]) or in the Global South (see the section below on North-South volunteer service). Thus, a gain in ‘intercultural competence’ directed solely at the dominant group and exluding ‘foreign children’ is portrayed as a solution, rather than dealing with questions of equal opportunities or suggesting struggles against structural and everyday racism. The third course for action proposed is to propagate the transformative potential of individual consumer choices. This focus tends to individualise the problem, to consolidate classist prejudices because only well-off people can afford them, and to divert focus away from structural issues of a racialised, gendered global division of labour (see the section below on Fair Trade).

North-South Volunteer Service

The volunteer service weltwärts was launched by the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) in 2008. Since then around 3500 volunteers per year at the age of 18 to 26 travel from Germany to ‘developing countries’. Set in the policy frame of the BMZ, the program follows the idea of ‘sustainable development’ and global learning. The current slogan “weltwärts brings the world a bit closer together”[37] expresses the underlying idea of the program: Young people from Germany are supposed to “meet people of other cultures […] to learn from them and work together with them in a team”.[38] Weltwärts volunteers are expected to contribute to a more just and sustainable world throughout their stay abroad and after their return. Yet, as will be further explained below, the program tends to reinforce neocolonial power structures, which contribute to social, political and economic inequality on a global scale rather than to encounters among equals. The following section draws on research conducted from 2008 to 2010 on the formation of subjects within weltwärts in its pilot phase. The sources comprise data from the website, booklets and policy papers of the program as well as media representations and reports of volunteers.[39]

Weltwärts was originally launched to give people from low-income families and especially young women the opportunity to do a volunteer service abroad.[40] Young males were already able to do a similar program abroad through the civil service Anderer Dienst im Ausland. Yet prolonged stays in a foreign country are today a prerequisite for getting places in certain university programs and increase chances on the job market. When solely regarding the gender dimension, the program’s initial objective has been achieved, since the majority of the participants are women in their early twenties. Yet, given that these women predominantly come from White bourgeois families – a fact that is acknowledged and deplored in the official evaluation of weltwärts [41], the program rather stabilises existing inequalities and therefore contradicts its own agenda, which encompasses the commitment toward equal opportunity, distributive justice, and non-discrimination.[42]

In addition to their privileged background, volunteers are furthermore convinced by weltwärts advertising that “the question of survival of humanity can only be solved through engaged young people”.[43] Given that the BMZ understands “engagement” in a classical civil society framework, which includes helping those worse off and traveling abroad, this implicates that mainly upper- and middle-class volunteers from the Global North are being addressed. Such messages constantly transport and convey a sense of superiority and seem to “empower[...] the dominant group to remain in power”[44] within German society as well as on a global scale.[45] Prior to, as well as during and after their stay abroad, young German volunteers are addressed as subjects and portrayed as individuals with agency. This in itself is not problematic, but set in the development discourse that rests upon colonial logics and constructs hierarchical binary oppositions, this particular subject position of the German volunteer presupposes a passive object. This projection of a passive object finds its materialisation in the homogenised ‘underdeveloped’ and destitute Other of the Global South.[46] On the weltwärts website as well as in policy papers, the countries the volunteers travel to are labelled as ‘developing countries’ and characterised as deficient and needy.[47] The global division between North and South is constantly reinforced through the language and images used within the program and, more generally, through the idea of volunteering as a metaphor for helping and sharing their knowledge with the rest of the world.

Progressive matters such as women’s rights and environmental protection or sustainability become instruments of drawing a colonial division between the modern and civilized ‘us’ and the underdeveloped and uncivilized ‘them’. Volunteers repeatedly report an alleged fatal status of environmental protection in the areas they pass their volunteer service. Following a colonial gaze, their own environmentally unsustainable way of life is not mentioned at all: for example, the resources consumed for the electronic devices used for blogging and keeping their friends and family updated at home or the flights that are connected with the volunteer service. To illustrate: While the carbon footprint of the average German citizen is thirty-two times higher than that of a Gambian[48], a German volunteer complains about the “handling of environment”[49] in Gambia, giving advice how to ameliorate the situation. Such portrayal of the host countries as deficient is crucial to a positive (self-)image of Germany as a developed country and role model to the world. This self-elevation rests on the de-naming of what is to a large extent constitutive of Germany´s as well as the ‘West’s’ wealth and hegemonic position in this world: colonialism as a historical process, coloniality as a contemporary knowledge/power complex, and capitalism as a system of social, political and economic inequality.

These absences[50] become a vehicle in the construction of Germany as a selfless nation that sends its youth to guide countries of the Global South out of their allegedly self-induced ‘underdevelopment’. In other words, not mentioning colonialism and capitalism when explaining North-South relations in the context of a one-way volunteer programme results in the resurrection of the enlightenment trope of the “White Man’s Burden” of having to civilize the wild Other. This dominant self-representation on the institutional/programme level, helps to construct a self-image on the individual level that rests on the vilification and deprivation of the Other. Here the program reinforces what has been characterised as ongoing colonisation of the mind[51] that encompasses the internalisation of superiority and the idea of being in charge of criticising and teaching the Others.[52] It is against this backdrop that weltwärts claims to foster engagement for the “One World”, a concept that is regularly invoked.[53] Aram Ziai, in an analysis of the German development discourse from the late 1990s until 2000, argues that the term ‘One World’ is “cognitively incapacitating, analytically insufficient and full of political consequences”.[54] In a similar way, Astrid Messerschmidt critically examined the concept of ‘global citizen’ within German development education discourse.[55] Both authors point out that the use of these terms tends to blur the actual power structures within the world system while distracting from privileges and interests of the ones in power and control. Similarly, the portrayal of the weltwärts volunteers as ‘global citizens’ engaged for the ‘One World’ is concealing privileges of the volunteers such as travelling and earning competences that are useful for their future careers in a globalised world.[56] All in all, the discourse on sustainable development as it is taken up in the weltwärts program does not veer away from the logics of the dominant development discourse as it “reproduces endlessly the separation between reformers and those to be reformed by keeping alive the premise of the Third World as different and inferior, as having a limited humanity in relation to the accomplished European”.[57]

Fair Trade

When dealing with issues of sustainability or sustainable development in Germany, the Fair Trade movement is an obvious candidate for analysis. During the last years, Fair Trade has made its way into the German mainstream. Fair Trade is hyped as a prime example of sustainability put into practice[58] as it combines not only the social and ecological but also the economic dimension of sustainability. The German Fair Trade movement is not homogeneous, but shaped by different interests, political orientations and influence. It exists of import organisations, Fair Trade shops, labelling, and umbrella organisations as well as local volunteer-based initiatives and educational projects. Despite its heterogeneity, this section attempts to discern some tendencies within this movement. We analyse the discursive side of Fair Trade as evident in booklets and educational materials, on websites and on packaging of products, but also draw on our practical experience with Fair Trade organisations in educational workshops on how to decolonise Fair Trade and its institutions. In this section, we suggest that Fair Trade in Germany today tends to reinforce hierarchical North-South dichotomies and to stabilise power relations with a colonial legacy both globally as well as within Germany.

The politics of representations within Fair Trade in Germany actively contribute to constructing hierarchical dichotomies. They have the effect that “organisations [in the Global North] and their customers appear as active, problem solving experts (for development)”, while the producers come across as “passive, uncivilised and dependent.”[59] Here, skin colour and ‘exotic’, ‘ethnic’ clothing or patterns in Fair Trade imagery act as constant markers of difference. Noteworthy in the development context, in which ‘speaking for the Other’ is the norm, is that Fair Trade producers are commonly portrayed as speaking for themselves (for example, on packaging). However, they are always quoted with grateful statements and presented as “confident” or “happy farmers”.[60] This is intended to provide consumers as well as Fair Trade organisations with a good feeling. While the presentation of Fair Trade in Germany conveys the image that people from the Global South speak out, producers and partner organisations in the South have no voice in the PR departments of German Fair Trade organisations. Their representation is decided upon unilaterally by the German side. However, the bifurcation of the world goes beyond issues of representation. In Germany (and most other countries of the Global North), only products from the Global South can receive a Fair Trade certificate. The German labelling organisation[61] argues against a certificate for products from the North, as it would be “about following social legislation of collective bargaining law – actually ‘correct behaviour’ that should be self-evident anyway.” The restriction of Fair Trade to products from the South shows how closely the idea of Fair Trade is linked to the notion of help and ‘development’. This is underlined by the fact that standards and criteria for products to receive the Fair Trade certificate are only formulated for production, but not for transport or sale.

In publications as well as workshops, we observe a constant talk about ‘partnership at eye level’ between German Fair Trade organisations and producer organisations in the Global South. This is conveyed as reality, not as a desired ideal. However, if staff members in our workshops are asked to describe power inequalities in their partnership relations, they quickly realise that their organisation is far from working in equitable partnership, as there are still very strict role allocations between stakeholders in the Global North and South: consumer – producer, processing – harvesting, helping/supporting – being helped/supported, evaluating – being evaluated, and so on. The eye level rhetoric enable the organisations to sweep existing power differences under the carpet.[62] Power imbalances make it hard for ‘partners’ in the Global South to voice their interests. According to Pierre Kohler[63], hesitant producers often do not dare to honestly negotiate prices and advance payments for fear of negative consequences for the partnership. Juan Francisco Liriano, a cacao producer from the Dominican Republic, summarises the situation as follows:

Why does it need all these efforts – certification, inspections, paper work, contracts – to gain fairer prices? […] Sometimes we perceive it as a new colonialism. In the industrialised countries decisions are taken, which conditions have to be fulfilled by us in the developing countries in order to receive a slightly better price for our products. And finally, we are not free to decide what happens with the additional money.[64]

Although Fair Trade is a highly international field of work, hardly any migrants or people of color are employed in this sector in Germany.[65]  The only roles that they regularly assume are cooking and drumming at Fair Trade (educational) events. The Fair Trade movement in Germany continues to embody white, bourgeois knowledge, and structures. Such exclusionary tendencies have consequences in terms of career opportunities, access to resources, and decision-making for non-white Germans, but also mean that the field lacks diversity of perspectives, knowledge and experiences. Cathy Plato, a woman of color living in Germany, once entered a Fair Trade shop and asked how she could contribute: She was told by those working in the shop that she should not worry and that they would act on her behalf[66] – thereby conflating her with the ‘needy’ ‘underdeveloped’ South. In 2013, MEPa, a German network of migrant and diasporic development NGOs, published a statement addressed to the German development NGO sector to demand a reconsideration of prevalent hiring practices as these seemed to systematically disregard applications of competent migrants and people of color.[67] Board member Lucía Muriel expresses MEPa’s demands clearly:

We will not accept the conditions of more than 500 years of colonial reality. […] In practice, it means that none of the forms of power to shape, define and decide will be tolerated any longer. Rather, all stakeholders […] should set out to engage in new forms of cooperation, distribution of resources as well as transforming power.[68]

While most Fair Trade products can hardly be called sustainable due to cultivation in monoculture plantations, long transportation routes, and enormous virtual water consumption[69], the majority of the Fair Trade certified products also share a brutal colonial history of enslavement and exploitation. Over centuries, European elites rearranged global agriculture in order to maximise profits and to satisfy their desires for luxury. Cash crops replaced local and subsistence economies and introduced interdependences that exist until today. Consequently, Fair Trade shops today resemble the former “Kolonialwarenläden”, which sold colonial goods in every German town until the 1960s.[70] They do not only show similarities with regard to product range, but also concerning marketing strategies. Fair Trade in Germany is selling an attitude of life peppered with exotic fantasies and feelings of superiority – instead of focusing on political messages or denouncing global injustices. The only new element today is that Fair Trade wraps its products in the idea of doing the right thing. Addressing such issues in workshops with Fair Trade organisations often triggers very strong defence mechanisms, as it challenges positive self-perceptions. In our experience, few stakeholders in the Fair Trade movement try to critically reflect on their own entanglement in global power structures. This can be related to prevalent fears of losing the feel-good image and thus customers, which would allegedly harm the Fair Trade movement and have negative effects for producers in the Global South. On a more structural level, one could also argue that not acknowledging colonial continuities in Fair Trade has to do with Northern elites’ fear of losing global privileges. Sebastian Lemme describes Fair Trade in Germany as “spreading simplistic messages of global justice while reducing one’s own entanglement in global power relations to the question of good and wrong shopping decisions”.[71] Essential part of the simplistic message is that capitalism and colonial continuities are not part of the problem. Fair Trade in Germany thus tends to not work on visions of how global conditions of inequality can be tackled. Rather, it constitutes a system within the system, in which the brutality of capitalism is attenuated, but the global neocolonial division of labour persists unabated.

Conclusion: We’re not Family, Disremembering & the Need for Unsettling Supremacy

Taking all three fields of investigation together, we may discern two common traits: First, these endeavours towards sustainable development in Germany shy away from asking crucial, political questions about clashes of interest between marginalised people suffering the effects of neocolonialism and those profiting from established relations of domination between the Global North and South. Development education materials, North-South volunteering and Fair Trade are rather portrayed as creating win-win situations – for German students as well as the people they learn about, for volunteers as well as the receiving societies, for consumers as well as producers. It can thus be argued that the fields under scrutiny serve to keep the “anti-politics machine”[72] of international development going. Second, and making this depoliticised approach thinkable and possible, the investigated realms of the sustainability agenda are highly a-historical. The often complete disregard for the coming-into-being of today’s global inequalities is striking. This might be considered ignorant, were it not for the fact that this ignorance or – as we prefer to call it in order to not make it appear as an accidental slip – the active “disremembering”[73] of the colonial past serves to preserve existing privileges of large parts of German society vis-à-vis the Global South. All in all, we observe that the sustainable development agenda in Germany in the domains of educational materials, North-South volunteer service, and Fair Trade in its current form tends to contribute to stabilising relations of inequality at the global (as well as local) level. We contend that the sustainable development agenda needs to focus on destabilizing and un-learning myths of Northern supremacy by turning its gaze towards the history and present of the coloniality-modernity-development nexus.[74] Only this uncomfortable task can introduce the potential that sustainable development activities might contribute to global as well as local transformation.


1. Robert Young, “Neocolonial Times,” Oxford Literary Review 13.1 (1991): 2. [↑]

2.  Ilan Kapoor, The Postcolonial Politics of Development (Oxon: Routledge, 2008); Cheryl McEwan, Postcolonialism and Development (New York: Routledge, 2009). [↑]

3. April Biccum, “Development and the ‘New’ Imperialism: A Reinvention of Colonial Discourse in DFID Promotional Literature,” Third World Quarterly 26.6 (2005): 1005-20; David Slater and Morag Bell, “Aid and the Geopolitics of the Post-Colonial: Critical Reflections on New Labour’s Overseas Development Strategy,” Development and Change 33.2 (2002): 335-60. [↑]

4. Uma Kothari, “An Agenda for Thinking about ‘Race’ in Development,” Progress in Development Studies 6.1 (2006): 9-23; Kalpana Wilson, Race, Racism and Development (London: Zed Books, 2012). [↑]

5. Jawad Syed and Faiza Ali, “The White Woman’s Burden: From Colonial Civilisation to Third World Development,” Third World Quarterly 32.2 (2011): 349-65; Sarah White, “The ‘Gender Lens’: A Racial Blinder?,” Progress in Development Studies 6.1 (2006): 55-67. [↑]

6. Maria Eriksson Baaz, The Paternalism of Partnership. A Postcolonial Reading of Development Politics (London-New York: Zed Books, 2005); Barbara Heron, Desire for Development. Whiteness, Gender, and the Helping Imperative (Waterloo: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 2007). [↑]

7. Joel Wainwright, Decolonizing Development. Colonial Power and the Maya (Oxford: Blackwell, 2008); Patricia Noxolo, “Claims: A Postcolonial Geographical Critique of ‘Partnership’ in Britain’s Development Discourse,” Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 27.3 (2006): 254-69. [↑]

8. Biccum, “Development and the ‘New’ Imperialism”; Uma Kothari, “From Colonialism to Development: Reflections of Former Colonial Officers,” Commonwealth & Comparative Politics 44.1 (2006): 118-36; Noxolo, “Claims”; Slater and Bell, “Aid and the Geopolitics of the Post-Colonial”. [↑]

9. Heron, Desire for Development[↑]

10. Eriksson Baaz, The Paternalism of Partnership[↑]

11. Timo Kiesel and Daniel Bendix, “White Charity: Eine postkoloniale, rassismuskritische Analyse der entwicklungspolitischen Plakatwerbung in Deutschland,” PERIPHERIE 120 (2010): 482-95. [↑]

12.  Daniel Bendix, “Resistance or Damp Squibs? Challenges to Colonial Power in Contemporary German Development Interventions in the Area of Reproductive Health in Tanzania,” Austrian Journal of Development Studies 29.1 (2014): 30-45; Patricia Deuser, “Genderspezifische Entwicklungspolitiken und Bevölkerungsdiskurse. Das Konzept der ‘Sexuellen und Reproduktiven Gesundheit und Rechte’ aus postkolonialer Perspektive,” Peripherie 120 (2010): 427-51. [↑]

13.  Elina Marmer and Aram Ziai, “Racism in the Teaching of ‘development’ in German Secondary School Textbooks” (presented at the CERES Conference Racism and Anti-Racism in Education and Community Practice, Edinburgh, 2013). [↑]

14. Luise Steinwachs, Zitat: “Arm, aber glücklich”. Persönliche Begegnungen in Schulpartnerschaften (Berlin: Berlin Postkolonial e.V., 2012), (October 2014); KATE e. V., Zusammen Wachsen. Vier Perspektiven auf Süd-Nord-Schulpartnerschaften (Berlin: Kontaktstelle für Umwelt und Entwicklung (KATE) e. V., 2013), (October 2014). [↑]

15. Global Humanitarian Assistance, The 2011 Decrease in Aid from DAC Donors: A New Era?, (May 2014). [↑]

16. Michel Foucault, Power/Knowledge. Selected Interviews and Other Writings, 1972-1977, ed. Colin Gordon (New York: Pantheon Book, 1980). [↑]

17. Biccum, “Development and the ‘New’ Imperialism”; Noxolo, “Claims”. [↑]

18. Slater and Bell, “Aid and the Geopolitics of the Post-Colonial,” 339. [↑]

19. glokal e. V., Bildung für Nachhaltige Ungleichheit? Eine postkoloniale Analyse von Materialien der entwicklungspolitischen Bildungsarbeit in Deutschland (Berlin: glokal e. V., 2013), (January 2015). [↑]

20. Helga Eblinghaus and Armin Stickler, Nachhaltigkeit und Macht. Zur Kritik von Sustainable Development (Frankfurt/Main: IKO, 1996); Aram Ziai, Globale Strukturpolitik? Die Nord-Süd-Politik der BRD und das Dispositiv der Entwicklung im Zeitalter von neoliberaler Globalisierung und neuer Weltordnung (Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2007). [↑]

21. BMZ and KMK, Orientierungsrahmen, 191. [↑]

22. Informationsbüro Nicaragua, ed., Fokuscafé Lateinamerika – Wenn der Lohn zum Überleben nicht reicht – Werkheft zum Modul Ökonomie (Wuppertal: Informationsbüro Lateinamerika, 2011). [↑]

23. Entwicklungspolitisches Bildungs- und Informationszentrum Berlin, G+ Schöne Ferien für Tourismuskaufleute, 2011, 1. [↑]

24. Peripherie, ed., PERIPHERIE 112: Klima – Politik und Profit (Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2008). [↑]

25. aej et al., Mach mal Zukunft! Eine Aktionsmappe für die Jugendarbeit zur Studie “Zukunftsfähiges Deutschland in einer globalisierten Welt”, Volume 3 (2010), 4. [↑]

26. BMZ and KMK, Orientierungsrahmen, 77. [↑]

27. Eblinghaus and Stickler, Nachhaltigkeit und Macht[↑]

28. BUKO, BUKO – Wer wir sind, (January 2012). [↑]

29. Christine Bauhardt, “Gesellschaftliche Naturverhältnisse und globale Umweltpolitik – Ökofeminismus, Queer Ecologies, (Re)Produktivität und das Konzept ‘Ressourcenpolitik’,” in Geschlechterforschung, Einführende Texte, eds. Barbara Rendtorff, Claudia Mahs, and Verena Wecker (Stuttgart: W. Kohlhammer Verlag, 2011), 44-58; Sabine Hofmeister, Tanja Mölders, and Maria E. Karsten, eds., Zwischentöne gestalten. Dialoge zur Verbindung von Geschlechterverhältnissen und Nachhaltigkeit (Bielefeld: USP Publishing Kleine Verlag, 2003). [↑]

30. Boaventura De Sousa Santos, The world is changing in a more progressive way, and it’s taking place here, (October 2014). [↑]

31. For a laudable exception, see FairBindung and Konzeptwerk Neue Ökonomie, Endlich Wachstum! Wirtschaftswachstum – Grenzen – Alternativen (Berlin: FairBindung, 2013). [↑]

32.  Eblinghaus and Stickler, Nachhaltigkeit und Macht; Aram Ziai, Exploring Post-Development. Theory and Practice, Problems and Perspectives (London – New York: Routledge, 2007). [↑]

33. Deutscher Entwicklungsdienst, Globales Lernen Arbeitsblätter für die Entwicklungspolitische Bildungsarbeit, 2. revised version (Bonn: DED, 2006), 9. [↑]

34. Vanessa Andreotti, “Soft versus Critical Citizenship Education,” Development Education Review (2006), 6, http// (January 2015). [↑]

35. VENRO, “Globales Lernen trifft neue Lernkultur,” VENRO Arbeitspapier 19 (2010), 4. [↑]

36.  BMZ and KMK, Orientierungsrahmen, 92. [↑]

37. BMZ, Der Freiwilligendienst weltwärts, http//:www.weltwä (January 2015), authors’ translation. [↑]

38. BMZ, Geh weltwärts! Der entwicklungspolitische Freiwilligendienst (Bonn: BMZ, 2015), 2, (January 2015); for a critique of the underlying concept of culture, see: Kristina Kontzi, “weltwärts” aus postkolonialer Perspektive. Ein Freiwilligendienst in weltbürgerlicher Absicht, (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2015), 162-72. [↑]

39. Kontzi, “weltwärts”[↑]

40. BMZ, Richtlinie zur Umsetzung des entwicklungspolitischen Freiwilligendienst “weltwärts” (Bonn: BMZ, 2007), 4. [↑]

41. BMZ, ed., Der entwicklungspolitische Freiwilligendienst “weltwärts”. BMZ Evaluierungsberichte (Bonn: BMZ,  2011). [↑]

42. Vanessa Andreotti, “Soft versus critical global citizenship education,” Development Education: Policy and Practice 3 (2006), 44. [↑]

43. BMZ and KMK, Orientierungsrahmen, 28. [↑]

44. BMZ, Geh weltwärts!, 5. [↑]

45. Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak, “A Conversation with Gayatri Chakravorty Spivak: Politics and the Imagination,” Signs: Journal of Women in Culture and Society 28.2 (2002), 622. [↑]

46. Kontzi, “weltwärts”, 131-41. [↑]

47. BMZ, Lexikon der Entwicklungspolitik – Entwicklungsland. de/service/glossar/E/entwicklungsland.html (May 2012). [↑]

48. Factfish, CO2 Emissionen pro Kopf (metrische Tonnen) – für alle Länder, (January 2015).[ [↑]

49. BMZ, Ich will weltwärts gehen: Erfahrungsberichte, (May 2013). [↑]

50. Boaventura De Sousa Santos, The Rise of the Global Left. The World Social Forum and Beyond (London; New York: Zed Books, 2006), 15. [↑]

51. e. g. Ngugi wa Thiong’o, Decolonising the Mind. The Politics of Language in African Literatur (Harare: Zimbabwe Publishing House, 1994). [↑]

52. Kontzi, “weltwärts”, 178-80. [↑]

53. BMZ, Über weltwärts, idee_hintergrund.html (May 2013). [↑]

54. Aram Ziai, Zwischen Global Governance und Post-Development. Entwicklungspolitik aus diskursanalytischer Perspektive (Münster: Westfälisches Dampfboot, 2006), 129., authors’ translation. [↑]

55. Astrid Messerschmidt, “Touristen und Vagabunden – Weltbürger in der Migrationsgesellschaft,” in Weltbürgertum und Kosmopolitisierung, ed. Benedikt Widmaier and Gerd Steffens (Schwalbach/Ts.: Wochenschau-Verlag, 2010), 129.[ [↑]

56. ]BMZ, Richtlinie, 4. [↑]

57. Arturo Escobar, Encountering Development. The Making and Unmaking of the Third World (Princeton: Princeton University Press. 1994), 54-55. [↑]

58. Fairtrade Deutschland, Nachhaltig für Mensch und Umwelt, URL: (January 2015); Fair Trade Advocacy Office, Sustainable Consumption and Production, (January 2015). [↑]

59. Anna-Lena Ringwald, Die Konstruktion des “Anderen” im Fairen Handel. Bild- und Textanalyse der Verpackungen fair gehandelten Kaffees (Diploma Thesis, Berlin: Free University, 2009),, 96 (January 2015), authors’ translation. [↑]

60. Naturland/Weltladendachverband, Öko und fair ernährt mehr (Frankfurt a.M.: Weltladendachverband, 2011).  [↑]

61. Fairtrade Deutschland, FAQ, (January 2015). [↑]

62. For a detailed analysis on the rhetoric of partnership, see Eriksson Baaz, Paternalism of Partnership[↑]

63. Pierre Kohler, “The Economics of Fair Trade Coffee: For Whose Benefit?” HEI Working Paper 6 (Université de Genève, 2007). [↑]

64. Terrafair, Fairer Handel ist manchmal wie ein neuer Kolonialismus, 2, (March 2013). [↑]

65. MEPa e.V., Stellungnahme zur Teilhabe von migrantischen Experten und deren Organisationen in die Strukturen der bundesdeutschen Einen-Welt-Arbeit, (January 2015). [↑]

66. Forum Fairer Handel, Lernkonzepte zum Fairen Handel. Dokumentation der 2. Fachtagung in Bad Boll (Berlin: Forum Fairer Handel, 2013), authors’ translation [↑]

67. MEPa e.V., Stellungnahme[↑]

68. Lucía Muriel, Die (bundesdeutsche) Eine-Welt-Arbeit aus einem Guss? Über das Verhältnis von Eine-Welt-Organisationen und migrantischen Organisationen in der Eine-Welt-Arbeit (Berlin: MoveGlobal, 2014), 17, authors’ translation. [↑]

69. To give an example: For one cup of coffee about 140l of virtual water are used and transferred to the Global North, Water Footprint Network, Coffee and Tea, (January 2015). [↑]

70. The name of one of the major German supermarket franchises is telling in this respect: EDEKA is an acronym for “Import Association of Colonial Goods Traders”. [↑]

71. Sebastian Lemme, Repräsentation, Subalternativität und koloniale Imagination in der entwicklungspolitischen Praxis. Eine postkoloniale Analyse am Beispiel von Fair Trade Werbebildern (2011), 79, (January 2015). [↑]

72. James Ferguson, The Anti-Politics Machine. “Development”, Depoliticization and Bureaucratic Power in Lesotho, (Minneapolis: University of Minneapolis Press,1994). [↑]

73.  Parvati Raghuram, Clare Madge, and Patricia Noxolo, “Rethinking Responsibility and Care for a Postcolonial World,” Geoforum 40.1 (2009), 10. [↑]

74.  Aníbal Quijano, “Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America,” Nepantla: Views from South 1.3 (2000), 533-80. [↑]


Daniel Bendix, Chandra-Milena Danielzik, Timo Kiesel and Kristina Kontzi are members of glokal, a Berlin-based association for postcolonial education.
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