The Ghana Job: Opening Socialist Hungary to the “Developing World”

ghana-job-cover

17 April 5:30 PM

Rutgers_University_with_the_state_university_logo.svgSeminar Room
Department of Sociology
Rutgers University
26 Nichol Ave
New Brunswick, NJ 08901

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Why was Hungary interested in the decolonized “developing world”? What does this episode of Eastern European history tell us about shared postcolonialities, transnational interconnectivity, and semiperipheral positioning or development strategies? My talk introduces why and how socialist Hungary decided to develop foreign economic relations with decolonized countries, which in turn facilitated a new orientation towards the world and the emergence of Hungarian development expertise towards developing countries.

My study investigates the Centre for Afro-Asian Research (CAAR) founded at the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1963 (in 1973 renamed as the Institute for World Economy, IWE) parallel to similar institutions founded internationally at that time. CAAR was established as a government think tank by József Bognár, who was a close friend to Prime Minister János Kádár and a hugely important figure in socialist era Hungarian reform economics and foreign economic policy-making. The associates of CAAR and IWE promoted export-oriented growth and fabricated new geographical development concepts as alternatives to the dichotomous Cold War categories of “capitalist” and “socialist” worlds in order to reposition Hungary in the world economy. The institute evolved out of the “Ghana job”: during his Eastern European round-trip president Kwame Nkrumah asked Bognár and his team of economists to develop the First Seven-Year Plan of Ghana in 1962.

During the Nkrumah period, the pan-Africanist, African socialist and Non-Aligned country of Ghana became a transnational hub of various experts and intellectuals, and a contested site not only of conflicting and intertwined “socialist” and “capitalist” views on development, but also of intensive cooperation and competition between Eastern Bloc countries in asserting their influence in the decolonized world. With Bognár’s assignment, the issue of “poorly developed countries” ignited the comparative reconceptualization of development histories in Hungary and led to exporting the Hungarian development model to the “Third World” based on the discourse of anti-imperialism, socialist solidarity and shared postcolonial histories.

In this context, I interpret the “Ghana job” from a postcolonial and world-systemic perspective as situated in a complex web of transnational relations, and point out Ghana’s decisive role in opening semiperipheral Hungary towards the global periphery during the 1960s by generating a field of development expertise, which enabled entrance into a new market of transnational development consultancy.

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This research received support from the “NKFIH K No. 115870” project entitled “Contemporary theories of space and spatiality in the Central Eastern European context” (“Kortárs térelméletek közép-kelet-európai kontextusban”) funded by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NRDIO) in Hungary.

Reklámok

The critical geographies of scientific knowledge and urban policy mobilities

On November 14, I will be holding a lecture and seminar in the frames of a lecture series about sustainable development in Central and Eastern Europe at Kaposvár University in Hungary.

The critical geographies of scientific knowledge and urban policy mobilities

Why and how do theories and policies travel? Who are involved in mobilizing and adapting them to local contexts and interests? What social groups do they affect and who benefits or gets disadvantaged? This class aims to encourage students to engage critically in these questions by introducing literature on the geographies of scientific knowledge and urban policy mobilities. These approaches argue that theories and policy models spread through transnational networks of communication, and their production and dissemination are conditioned by their sites, spaces, scales and circulations of operation. Increasing globalization has led to “fast policy”, “mobile urbanism”, and a global market of expertise and policy models in urban development, which called forth a relational view of cities against “cities-as-territories”.

The class first provides an overview of some considerations in analyzing historical, geographical, sociological and political aspects in the production of scientific knowledge, such as the notions of “truth spots”, “invisible colleges”, “gatekeepers of knowledge”, “scientific provincialism”, “travelling knowledge”, or the politics of translation. Second, we turn more specifically to the global circulation of urban policies, by showing the social and ideological contexts of the policy-making process, the politics of policy knowledge production, and the processes of policy circulation and adaptation. Third, after revising some popular examples of urban development models and their scientific legitimation, we focus more concretely on deconstructing the highly debated “creative city” concept.

By presenting a critical stance towards “successful” policies, “best practices” and policy branding, the class offers students tools to discover the uneasy dynamics between scientific knowledge and policy-making, and helps them develop their critical interpretative skills in understanding how development discourse and policy-making affects their urban environments.

 

Suggested reading for the class:

Peck, J. (2005): Struggling with the Creative Class. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 29(4): 740–770.

http://www.creativeclass.com

http://archive.sciencewatch.com/dr/fmf/2010/10novfmf/10novfmfPeck

Recommended literature:

Books:

Livingstone, D. N. (2003): Putting Science in its Place: Geographies of Scientific Knowledge. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

McCann, E., Ward, K. (Eds.)(2011): Mobile Urbanism: Cities and Policymaking in the Global Age. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Peck, J., Theodore, N. (2015): Fast Policy: Experimental Statecraft at the Thresholds of Neoliberalism. Minneapolis and London: University of Minnesota Press.

Articles:

Cook, I. R., Ward, K. (2011): Trans-urban Networks of Learning, Mega Events and Policy Tourism: The Case of Manchester’s Commonwealth and Olympic Games Projects. Urban Studies, 48: 2519–2535.

Gonzalez, S. (2011): Bilbao and Barcelona ‘in motion’. How urban regeneration ‘models’ travel and mutate in the global flows of policy tourism. Urban Studies, 48(7): 1397–1418.

Jacobs, J. M. (2012): Urban geographies I: Still thinking cities relationally. Progress in Human Geography, 36(3): 412–422.

Larner W., Laurie N. (2010): Travelling technocrats, embodied knowledges: Globalising privatisation in telecoms and water. Geoforum, 41: 218–226.

McCann, E. J. (2008): Expertise, Truth, and Urban Policy Mobilities: Global Circuits of Knowledge in the Development of Vancouver, Canada’s ‘Four Pillar’ Drug Strategy. Environment and Planning A, 40: 885–904.

McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2010): Relationality/Territoriality: Towards a Conceptualization of Cities in the World. Geoforum, 41: 175–184.

McCann, E. J. (2011): Urban Policy Mobilities and Global Relational Geographies: Toward a Research Agenda. Annals of the Association of American Geographers, 101: 107–130.

McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2014): Exploring Urban Policy Mobilities: The Case of Business Improvement Districts. Sociologica, 1: 1–20.

McCann, E. J., Ward, K. (2015): Thinking Through Dualisms in Urban Policy Mobilities. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research, 39(4): 828–830.

Oancă, A. (2015): Europe is not elsewhere: The mobilization of an immobile policy in the lobbying by Perm (Russia) for the European Capital of Culture title. European Urban and Regional Studies, 22(2): 179–190.

Peck, J., Theodore, N. (2010) Mobilizing policy: Models, methods, and mutations. Geoforum, 41 (2010) 169–174.

Pomfret, R., Wilson, J. K., Lobmayr, B. (2009): Bidding for Sport Mega-Events. School of Economics. Working Paper Series, 30.

Prince, Russel (2010): Globalizing the Creative Industries Concept: Travelling Policy and Transnational Policy Communities. The Journal of Arts Management, Law, and Society, 40: 119–139.

Ward, K. (2005): Entrepreneurial urbanism and the manage­ment of the contemporary city. The example of Busi­ness Improvement Districts. Transnational Seminar Lecture Paper, University of Illinois at Urbana-Cham­paign, Center for Global Studies.

Ward, K., Cook, I. R. (2012): Conferences, informational infrastructures and mobile policies: the process of getting Sweden ‘BID ready’. European Urban and Regional Studies, 19: 137–152.

 

This presentation received support from the “NKFIH K No. 115870” project entitled “Contemporary theories of space and spatiality in the Central Eastern European context” (“Kortárs térelméletek közép-kelet-európai kontextusban”) funded by the National Research, Development and Innovation Office (NRDIO) in Hungary.