Principles of Critical Development Studies

A Minifesto

  • Martina Padmanabhan (Autor/in)
  • Samia Dinkelaker (Autor/in)
  • Mareike Hoffmann (Autor/in)
  • Dimas Laksmana (Autor/in)
  • Siti Maimunah (Autor/in)
  • Elena Rudakova (Autor/in)
  • Enid Still, (Autor/in)
  • Friederike Trotier (Autor/in)


Renaming the chair of “Comparative development and Cultural studies with a focus on Southeast Asia” to “Critical Development Studies—Southeast Asia” is the outcome of an intense intellectual, political and yet intimate process over the last three years. In autumn 2019 a group of international students from the MA Development Studies program reported the shock of experiencing racism in study groups and when looking for shared housing. While confined to online teaching, during class one student found the courage to share their experience of a racist incident on public transport in Passau, the perpetrator humiliating him before vanishing into anonymity.
These distressing and painful aggressions urged us to start reflecting on our responsibilities and capabilities, as a chair at the university, to act upon discrimination and racism which still permeate higher education, and the field we teach - development practice. During regular research labs over the last year, we read and discussed texts and debates from critical theory and perspectives from fields such as feminist political ecology (FPE), post-development, decolonial theory and new area studies. This process of learning, unlearning and relearning built up to this minifesto. Following Kallis (2018), we call this a minifesto because unlike a manifesto, which would present our grand theory or idea, we present here a collection of small but significant ideas. We believe these ideas and the commitment to pluralism will help shape the teaching practice and learning environment at the chair.