73342 - Geography And Policies Of Development

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Gender equality Reduced inequalities Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2021/2022

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has the ability to analyze the concept of development in the history and politics of developing countries. He knows the main theoretical approaches, the concepts and the debate regarding development policies. In particular, the student is able to: understand and analyze the main contemporary literature concerning development issues with regard to developing countries; analyze development strategies and practices and debate on their effectiveness; interpreting and contextualising the main processes of transformation and of political and economic reforms in the developing countries; analyze and discuss the most relevant phenomena of development and place them in the broader international development dynamics and practices.

Course contents

The course analyzes and discusses the concept of development in the history and politics of developing countries, in relation to the international dimension. Theories and debates on development, development strategies and practices and the debate on their effectiveness will be analyzed. Rural development issues in developing countries will be analyzed.

Important notice

In order to enhance students' participation and interaction, students attending classes must read preliminarily the following book:

V. Desai, R. B. Potter, The companion to development studies, Hodder Education, London, 2008

Moreover students are requested to attend classes regularly and to be present during the first weeks when all information about the programme will be provided.

The course will be organized as follows:


Introductory information about the course.

Analysis of the concept of development within the field of development studies. Development in history and in international relations: from colonial empires to third world to developing countries; modernisation and development; from Washington to post Washington consensus. Analysis of the notion of development in social sciences in an historical and political perspective: idioms, concepts, debate; ideas of "alternative" development and development cooperation such as South-South cooperation; how to relate research and practice in development practices.

Analysis of the processes of political and social development in the rural areas of developing countries: access to land, citizenship, land reform and policies of rural development in an historical perspective. The relation between agriculture, development, poverty reduction, and food sovereignty will be discussed in the context of international development. Analysis of land reform programmes launched since the ‘90s in developing countries and of “land grabbing”.

Recommended readings:

A. Payne, N. Phillips, Development, Polity Press, Cambridge 2009

H. Bernstein, Class dynamics of agrarian change, Kumarian Press; Sterling, VA, Halifax; Winnipeg Fernwood


This part will take place in a seminar form. All students, divided into groups, will have to read the following words of development (participation, governance, gender, empowerment, civil society/NGO, poverty reduction) and discuss them with the help of the supplementary readings indicated below and other material identified by the groups of students. The result of the study will be presented in class.

Recommended reading:

A. Pallotti, M. Zamponi, Le parole dello sviluppo, Carocci, Roma, 2014


M. Green, Making Development Agents: Participation as Boundary Object in International Development, in The Journal of Development Studies, 46,7, 2010

P. Taylor Klein, Engaging the Brazilian state: the Belo Monte dam and the struggle for political voice, The Journal of Peasant Studies, 42, 6, 2015

A. Akbar, J. Flacke, J. Martinez, M. F. A. M. van Maarseveen, Participatory planning practice in rural Indonesia: A sustainable development goals-based evaluation, in Community Development 2020

W. A. Kiwango, H. C. Komakech, T. M. C. Tarimo, L. Martz, Levels of community participation and satisfaction with decentralized wildlife management in Idodi-Pawaga Wildlife Management Area, Tanzania, in International Journal of Sustainable Development & World Ecology, 25,3, 2018

T. Blomley, K. Edwards, S. Kingazi, K. Lukumbuzya, M. Mäkelä, L. Vesa, When community forestry meets REDD+: has REDD+ helped address implementation barriers to participatory forest management in Tanzania?, in Journal of Eastern African Studies, 11, 3, 2017

C. B. Abdo-Katsipis, Women, Political Participation, and the Arab Spring: Political Awareness and Participation in Democratizing Tunisia, in Journal of Women, Politics & Policy, 38,4, 2017

M. Hiratsuka, E. Nakama, T. Satriadi, H. Fauzi, M. Aryadi, Y. Morikawa, An approach to achieve sustainable development goals through participatory land and forest conservation: a case study in South Kalimantan Province, Indonesia, in Journal of Sustainable Forestry, 38,6, 2019

C. Noe, R.Y.M. Kangalawe, Wildlife Protection, Community Participation in Conservation, and (Dis) Empowerment in Southern Tanzania, in Conservation & Society, Vol. 13, N. 3, 2015

M. Gingembre, Resistance or participation? Fighting against corporate land access amid political uncertainty in Madagascar, Journal of Peasant Studies 43, 3-4, 2015


M. Mustafizur Rahaman, Donor support towards good governance in Bangladesh: a focus on people's participation and accountability, in Contemporary South Asia, 20, 3, 2012

R. Mira, A. Hammadache, Good Governance and Economic Growth: A Contribution to the Institutional Debate about State Failure in Middle East and North Africa, in Asian Journal of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, 11,3, 2017

R. Dodd, Jean-Marc Olivé, Player or referee? Aid effectiveness and the governance of health policy development: Lessons from Viet Nam, in Global Public Health 2011

E. Ranta, State Governance and Micropractices of Power in the Process of Decolonizing the State in Bolivia, in Forum for Development Studies, 45, 3, 2018

P. Osei-Wusu Adjei, A. Kwaku Busia, G. Meyiri Bob-Milliar, Democratic decentralization and disempowerment of traditional authorities under Ghana’s local governance and development system: a spatio-temporal review, in Journal of Political Power, 10,3, 2017

T. J Davis, Good governance as a foundation for sustainable human development in sub-Saharan Africa, in Third World Quarterly, 38, 3, 2017

J. Dhaoui, Good governance for sustainable development, 2019, https://mpra.ub.uni-muenchen.de/92544/

H. Ware, Africa and the Rhetoric of Good Governance, in The Australasian Review of African Studies, 39, 2, 2018


S. Bergeron, The Post-Washington Consensus and Economic Representations of Women in Development at the World Bank, in International Feminist Journal of Politics, 5, 3, 2003

N. Hafiz Abubakar, S. Ibrahim Dasuki, Empowerment in their hands: use of WhatsApp by women in Nigeria, in Gender, Technology and development, 22, 2, 2018

S. Sharaunga, M. Mudhara, A. Bogale, Conceptualisation and Measurement of Women's Empowerment Revisited, in Journal of Human Development and Capabilities, 20, 1, 2019

K. Isidoros, Unveiling the Colonial Gaze: Sahrāwī Women in Nascent Nation-state Formation in the Western Sahara, in Interventions, 19:4, 2017

H. Cornish, H. Walls, R. Ndirangu, N. Ogbureke, O. M. Bah, J. Favour Tom-Kargbo, M. Dimoh, M. Ranganathan, Women’s economic empowerment and health related decision-making in rural Sierra Leone, in Culture, Health & Sexuality, 2019


D. Mugambe Mpiima, H. Manyire, C. Kabonesa, M. Espiling, Gender analysis of agricultural extension policies in Uganda: informing practice?, in Gender, Technology and Development, 23, 2, 2019

M. Addison, G. Mujawamariya, R. Bam, Gender considerations in development and utilisation of technological innovations: evidence from Ghana, in Development in Practice, 30, 1, 2020

N. Hashim Msuya, Concept of Culture Relativism and Women’s Rights in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Journal of Asian and African Studies, 54, 8,2019

G. J. Gatwiri, and K. A. Mumbi, Silence as Power: Women Bargaining With Patriarchy in Kenya, in Social Alternatives, 35,1, 2016

M. I. Ayala, A. L. Murga, Patriarchy and women's multidimensional agency: A case study of a Mexican sending village, in Women’s Studies International Forum, 59, 2016

A. Phillips, Gender and Modernity, in Political Theory, 46, 6, 2018


S. Samer Ali Al-Shami, M. M. Razali, I. Majid, A .Rozelan, N. Rashid, The effect of microfinance on women’s empowerment: Evidence from Malaysia, in Asian Journal of Women's Studies, 22, 3, 2016

N. Sirdey, B. Lallau, How do producer organisations enhance farmers’ empowerment in the context of fair trade certification?, in Oxford Development Studies, 48, 2, 2020

M. B. Melesse, A. Dabissa, E.Bulte, Joint Land Certification Programmes and Women’s Empowerment: Evidence from Ethiopia, in The Journal of Development Studies, 54,10, 2018

Md. Al-Amin, G. M. Mathbor, Agency, empowerment and intra-household gender relations in Bangladesh: Does marketoriented microcredit contribute?, in Asian Journal of Women's Studies, 25, 2, 2019

W. Perry, O. Rappe, A. Boulhaoua, L. Hassan Loux, Y. Elhouss, H. Ait Ahssain, Z. Ait Barich, H. Akhiyat, T. Amine Aznague, S. Hraïd, Argan oil and the question of empowerment in rural Morocco, in The Journal of North African Studies, 24,5, 2019

A. Mendoza-Ramos, B. Prideaux, Assessing ecotourism in an Indigenous community: using, testing and proving the wheel of empowerment framework as a measurement tool, in Journal of Sustainable Tourism, 26, 2, 2018

S. De Royer, M. Van Noordwijk, J. M. Roshetko, Does community-based forest management in Indonesia devolve social justice or social costs?, in International Forestry Review, 20, 2, 2018

A. Castellanos-Navarrete, K. Jansen, Is Oil Palm Expansion a Challenge to Agroecology? Smallholders Practising Industrial Farming in Mexico, in Journal of Agrarian Change, 18, 1, 2018

Civil Society/NGOs

D. N. Warshawsky, Civil society and public–private partnerships: case study of the Agri-FoodBank in South Africa, in Social & Cultural Geography, 17, 3, 2016

C. Hartmann, J. M. K. Hartmann, A. Lopez, P. Flores, Health non-governmental organizations (NGOs) amidst civil unrest: Lessons learned from Nicaragua, in Global Public Health 2020

A. C. Feldenheimer da Silva, E. Recine, P. Johns, F. da Silva Gomes, M. de Araújo Ferraz, E. Faerstein, History and challenges of Brazilian social movements for the achievement of the right to adequate food, in Global Public Health, 14, 6-7, 2019

T. Reinold, Civil society participation in regional integration in Africa: A comparative analysis of ECOWAS, SADC, and the EAC, in South African Journal of International Affairs, 26,1, 2019

D. Archer, The evolution of NGO–government relations in education: ActionAid 1972–2009, in Development in Practice, 20, 4-5, 2010

J. Pearson, Integrating learning into organisational capacity development of Cambodian NGOs, in Development in Practice, 21,8, 2011

S. Mingorría, Violence and visibility in oil palm and sugarcane conflicts: the case of Polochic Valley, Guatemala, in The Journal of Peasant Studies, 45,7, 2018

J. N. Brass, W. Longhofer, R. S. Robinson, A. Schnable, NGOs and international development: A review of thirty-five years of scholarship, in World Development, 112, 2018

M. Abdullahi, A. Baba Gana, ROLE OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANISATIONS IN PROMOTING DEMOCRACY AND GOOD GOVERNANCE IN NIGERIA, in International Journal of Administration and Development Studies, 7, 1, 2017

J. Rowlands, Power in Practice: Bringing Understandings and Analysis of Power into Development Action in Oxfam, in IDS Bulletin, 47, 5, 2016

Poverty reduction

M. Elkins, S. Feeny, Policies in Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers: dominance or diversity?, in Canadian Journal of Development Studies / Revue Canadienne d'études du développement, 35, 2, 2014

Frank-Borge Wietzke, Poverty reduction and democratization – new cross-country evidence, in Democratization, 26, 6, 2019

H. H. El Hadidi, The Impact of Microfinance on Poverty Reduction in Egypt: An Empirical Study, in Arab Journal of Administration, 40, 2, 2020

S. Song, K. S. Imai, Does the Hunger Safety Net Programme reduce multidimensional poverty? Evidence from Kenya, in Development Studies Research, 6, 1, 2019

R. K. Sunam, J. F. McCarthy, Reconsidering the links between poverty, international labour migration, and agrarian change: critical insights from Nepal, in The Journal of Peasant Studies, 43,1, 2016

S. Alkire, C. Jindra, G. Robles Aguilar, A. Vaz, Multidimensional Poverty Reduction Among Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, in Forum for Social Economics, 46, 2, 2017

J. Cuesta, M. Negre, A. Revenga, C. Silva-Jauregui, Is it really possible for countries to simultaneously grow and reduce poverty and inequality? Going beyond global narratives, in Oxford Development Studies 2020

B. A. Olken, Designing Anti-Poverty Programs in Emerging Economies in the 21st Century: Lessons from Indonesia for the World, in Bulletin of Indonesian Economic Studies, 55,3, 2019

Programme for students attending classes

Students attending classes must study the following texts

A. Pallotti, M. Zamponi, Le parole dello sviluppo, Carocci, Roma 2014

Henry Bernstein, Class dynamics of agrarian change, Kumarian Press; Sterling, VA, Halifax; Winnipeg, Fernwood

A. Payne, N. Phillips, Development, Polity Press, Cambridge 2009

Seminars activities will be assessed for the final examination

Programme for students not attending classes

A. Pallotti, M. Zamponi, Le parole dello sviluppo, Carocci, Roma, 2014

Henry Bernstein, Class dynamics of agrarian change, Kumarian press; Sterling, VA, Halifax; Winnipeg Fernwood

A. Payne, N. Phillips, Development, Polity Press, Cambridge 2009

D. Craig, D. Porter, Development Beyond Liberalism. Governance, Poverty Reduction and Political Economy, Routledge, Abingdon 2006 (introduction and chapters of Part I)


Bibliographical references are indicated jointly with the syllabus.

Teaching methods

Lectures, analysis and discussion of papers and bibliographical references. Some of the lectures will be organized as seminars with discussion of some of the readings indicated in the programme. Students are requested to present and to discuss the readings they have choosen under the teacher supervision. The discussion during classes will be evaluated for the final examination.

Notice: The course will take place according to the rules that may be in force in the next academic year, regarding possible limitations linked to the health emergency.

Assessment methods

The assessment of students, both for students attending and not attending classes, takes place through an oral examination aiming to evaluate the capacity of analysis and students' knowledge on concepts and debate about development issues in a political and historical perspective and about the main processes of transformation and of political and economic reforms in developing countries discussed during the course.

Teaching tools

Transparencies, maps, newspapers, documents and reports of international organisations.

Office hours

See the website of Mario Zamponi