The Rise of the South

Current Trends >> Future Possibilities

April 8, 2013 · 9:30AM-6:00PM

Columbia University, School of International and Public Affairs, Room 1501

Despite the recognition of global changes driven by the economic rise of the South, key concepts and categories are under-theorized and important aspects of this phenomenon remain at the periphery of discussions. There is little consensus over how to define the South or how to theorize the diverse development paths of its emerging economies. The long-term sustainability of recent economic patterns and the potential for greater equity are also in question. This conference aimed to fill the gaps in the current scholarship and address how the rapid shift in global dynamics could affect long-term human development. “The Rise of the South” was framed and organized by Global Thought Post-Doctoral Research Scholars Astra Bonini, Bilge Erten, Darryl Li and Sanjay Pinto, with support from CGT staff. Working across disciplines, CGT’s post-doctoral research scholars focused on under-theorized areas of scholarship, intersections between their own disciplinary research and representing a variety of perspectives in the program.

From Bhutan to the Bahamas, nearly 1,300 viewers from 110 countries watched a live web-cast of Rise of the South.

This conference brought together leading development thinkers and practitioners to discuss the 2013 United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Human Development Report, “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World.” The Human Development Report examines the profound shift in global dynamics driven by the fast-rising new powers of the developing world and its long-term implications for human development. The conference considered how rapid and dramatic changes across the Global South—from large powers such as China, India, and Brazil, to smaller countries like Turkey, Mexico and South Africa—are reshaping economic, political, and social trends worldwide. The increasing dynamism of the South is affecting global ideas, institutions and systems ranging from international migration and financial flows to global governance organizations to social movements and development paradigms. Actors from the South are raising questions about fairness and representation in global and national governance systems and the types of policies that are most constructive in generating positive development outcomes.

Plenary: 2013 Human Development Report “The Rise of the South: Human Progress in a Diverse World”

  • Introduction: Khalid Malik, Director, Human Development Report Office (HDRO), United Nations Development Programme
  • Moderator: Vishakha Desai, Special Advisor for Global Affairs, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations
  • José Antonio Ocampo, Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, Columbia University
  • Saskia Sassen, Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology, and Co-chair of the Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University

The opening plenary featured a presentation of the UNDP 2013 Human Development Report. The report identifies more than 40 countries in the developing world that have done better than expected in human development terms in recent decades, with their progress accelerating markedly over the past ten years. Each of these countries has its own unique history and has chosen its own distinct development pathway. Yet they share important characteristics and face many of the same challenges. The 2013 Human Development Report identifies policies rooted in this new global reality that could promote greater progress throughout the world for decades to come. Following a presentation on the key messages and findings of the 2013 Report, a panel debated how the recommendations of the Report could be translated into action.

Who in the South is rising?

  • Moderator: Sanjay Reddy, Associate Professor of Economics, The New School for Social Research
  • Augustin Kwasi Fosu, Deputy Director, United Nations University-World Institute for Development Economics Research, United Nations
  • Jayati Ghosh, Professor and Chairperson, Centre for Economic Studies and Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Executive Secretary, International Development Economics Associates (IDEAs)
  • Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, University of Maryland
  • Eugenia McGill, Lecturer in Discipline of International and Public Affairs, and Assistant Director, Economic and Political Development Concentration at SIPA, Columbia University

This panel looked beyond the broad headlines to assess who exactly is being lifted by the South’s rising tide. While it is well-known that countries such as Brazil, China, and India have experienced rapid macroeconomic growth in recent years, this session considered the degree to which these patterns of growth and development are broadly shared within and across different countries and regions of the developing world.

What does the rise of the South mean for development theory?

  • Moderator: Michele Alacevich, Associate Director of Research Activities, The Heyman Center for the Humanities and Adjunct Professor, History Department, Columbia University
  • Balakrishnan Rajagopal, Ford International Associate Professor of Law and Development, Department of Urban Studies and Planning, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Beverly Silver, Professor, Department of Sociology and Director, Center for Arrighi Global Studies, Johns Hopkins University
  • Jomo K. Sundaram, Assistant Director-General, Economic and Social Development Department, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations
  • Robert Wade, Professor of Political Economy and Development, Department of International Development, London School of Economics

This panel critically examined development theory in terms of how well existing theories explain recent patterns of development in the South, and whether new theories are needed to analyze current dynamics and forecast development trends. This session also considered whether the “North-South” distinction and related concepts such as developed/developing, core/periphery and industrialized/agricultural still hold purchase in capturing contemporary realities, and what alternative concepts and categorizations may be useful in advancing research.

Who is speaking in—and for—the South?

  • Moderator: Vivek Chibber, Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, New York University
  • Omar Dahi, Assistant Professor of Economics, School of Critical Social Inquiry, Hampshire College
  • Arturo Escobar, Kenan Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
  • Eli Friedman, Assistant Professor, Industrial and Labor Relations School, Cornell University
  • Manuel Montes, Senior Advisor on Finance and Development, The South Centre

This panel addressed shifts in governance as they relate to ongoing developments in the South. The discussion considered the degree to which certain countries are gaining political voice within regional and global governance organizations and the dynamics of exclusion that continue to exist within these. It also examined how social movements in and across the South—including the Arab Spring and labor unrest in China—might transform systems of governance at the national, regional, and global levels.

Michele Alacevich is Associate Director for Research Activities at the Heyman Center for the Humanities and Adjunct Assistant Professor in the History Department of Columbia University. He specializes in the history of 20th century development institutions and ideas, and international history.  His publications include The Political Economy of the World Bank: The Early Years (2009), articles in Journal of Global History, History of Political Economy, Review of Political Economy, Rivista di Storia Economica, and Journal of the History of Economic Thought. Before moving to Columbia University, Michele Alacevich was a research scholar at Harvard University (2010-2011), Columbia University (2009-2010), and the World Bank (2006-2008). He holds a Ph.D. in business history from the University of Milano, Italy (2006).

Vivek Chibber was born in Delhi, India. He received his Ph.D. in sociology from the University of Wisconsin in 1999, and is a professor in the same subject at New York University. He specializes in the political economy of development and in social theory. He is the author of two books, Locked in Place: State-Building and Late Industrialization in India (Princeton University Press, 2003) and Postcolonial Theory and the Specter of Capital, (Verso, 2013).

Omar S. Dahi received his Ph.D. in economics from the University of Notre Dame. His research focuses on South-South economic relations as well as the political economy of the Middle East North Africa region. He has published articles in academic outlets such as the Journal of Development Economics, Journal of Asian and African Studies, and the Review of Radical Political Economics. He is also an editor at The Middle East Report.

Ambassador Luis Alfonso de Alba Góngora is currently the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations, a position he assumed in September 2011. He previously served as the Special Representative and Chief Negotiator for the Climate Change summit in Cancun in 2010. Between March 2004 and July 2009, he served as the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva, and during his time in Geneva he was designated as the first President of the Human Rights Council, a position he held from June 2006 until June 2007. A career diplomat since 1983, Ambassador de Alba served as the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations in New York, Deputy Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States and Director-General for the United Nations, as well as other relevant positions at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

Vishakha Desai is Special Advisor for Global Affairs to the President, Professor of Professional Practice at the School of International and Public Affairs, and Member of the Committee on Global Thought at of Columbia University. She also serves as Senior Advisor for Global Programs to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation. From 2004 through 2012, Dr. Desai served as President and CEO of the Asia Society, a leading global organization dedicated to strengthening partnerships among peoples of Asia and the U.S. Under her leadership the society expanded the scope and scale of its activities with the opening of new offices in India and Korea, a new center of U.S.–China Relations, internationally recognized education programs, and inauguration of two new architecturally distinguished facilities in Hong Kong and Houston. Dr. Desai holds a B.A. in political Science from Bombay University and an M.A. and Ph.D. in Asian Art History from the University of Michigan.

Arturo Escobar is Professor of Anthropology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He was born and grew up in Colombia. His main interests are: political ecology, ontological design, and the anthropology of development and social movements. Over the past twenty years, he has worked closely with Afro-Colombian social movements in projects for the defense and re-imagining of the Colombian Pacific. His most recent book is Territories of Difference: Place, Movements, Life, Redes (2008).

Augustin Kwasi Fosu is Deputy Director, UN University-WIDER, Helsinki, Finland; honorary CSAE Research Associate, University of Oxford; honorary BWPI Research Associate, University of Manchester; and honorary RDRC Research Fellow, University of California-Berkeley. Previous positions include Senior Policy Advisor/Chief Economist, UN Economic Commission for Africa, and Director of Research, African Economic Research Consortium. He holds a PhD in economics from Northwestern University. Professor Fosu is co-editor of the Journal of African Economies (Oxford) and serves on the editorial boards of several other journals, including: Feminist Economics, Journal of Development Studies, Oxford Development Studies, World Bank Economic Review, and World Development. 

Eli Friedman joined the faculty of the Cornell's department of International and Comparative Labor at the ILR School in 2011 after completing his PhD in sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. His primary research focus is labor in China, and he has ongoing interests in social movements, globalization, development, political sociology, work, and theory. His publications have appeared in Mobilization, British Journal of Industrial Relations, and Journal of Democracy. Eli's current research focuses on the relationship between migrant workers, unions, and the state in contemporary China. In addition he has a project looking at education work in both public and migrant schools in Beijing.

Jayati Ghosh is Professor of Economics at the Centre for Economic Studies and Planning at Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi, and the Executive Secretary of International Development Economics Associates (IDEAS). She is a regular columnist for several Indian journals and newspapers, a member of the National Knowledge Commission advising the prime minister of India, and is closely involved with a range of progressive organizations and social movements. She is co-recipient of the International Labour Organisation's 2010 Decent Work Research prize. Her most recent book is Never Done and Poorly Paid: The Changing Nature of Women’s Work in Globalising India (New Delhi: Women Unlimited, 2008).

Roberto Patricio Korzeniewicz came to the University of Maryland in 1993. Currently, he is Professor of Sociology. Korzeniewicz is a comparative and historical sociologist. In one line of research, Professor Korzeniewicz studies different dimensions of global inequality (e.g., between countries, within countries, and between men and women). A second line of research focuses on social movements, particularly in Latin America. Using a World-Systems approach, his recent work has examined the interaction between globalization, inequality and structural adjustment policies, as well as patterns of response and participation by civil society to free trade agreements in the Americas. His latest book is Unveiling Inequality: A World-Historical Perspective (NY: Russell Sage Foundation, 2009).

Khalid Malik is a development practitioner with extensive experience. Educated as an economist at the universities of Oxford, Cambridge, Essex and Punjab, he has held a variety of key managerial, technical and policy positions at the United Nations Development Programme both in the field and at headquarters and is currently serving as Head of Human Development Report to the United Nations Development Programme. Before he was assigned Special Advisor to UNDP Africa, after having completed his assignment as UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative in China in March 2010. His latest book Why China Has Grown So Fast for So Long was published in 2012 by Oxford University Press. In 2009, Mr. Malik was one of ten “champions” - and the only foreigner - to be honored for their contributions to the protection of the environment in China.

Eugenia McGill is a Lecturer in the Discipline of International and Public Affairs and the Assistant Director of the Economic and Political Development Concentration at SIPA, where she directs the Workshop in Development Practice and teaches courses in Methods for Development Practice and Gender, Politics and Development. Her teaching and research interests include the social impacts of globalization and development interventions, particularly gender-related impacts, as well as innovative and inclusive approaches to development planning. She has a J.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, M.I.A. from SIPA, M.A.T. from Northwestern University and B.A. from Williams College.

Manuel F. Montes is Senior Advisor on Finance and Development at the South Centre in Geneva. He was previously Chief of Development Strategies, United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) where he led the team that produced the World Economic and Social Survey (WESS). His recent publications have been in areas of macroeconomic policy, development strategy, income inequality, climate change financing and industrial policy. He holds a PhD in Economics from Stanford University.

José Antonio Ocampo is a Professor of Professional Practice in International and Public Affairs, in the School of International and Public Affairs, and Co-President of the Initiative for Policy Dialogue, at Columbia University. He served as the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs from September 2003 to June 2007. Mr. Ocampo is author or editor of over 30 books and has published over 200 scholarly articles on macroeconomic theory and policy, international financial issues, economic development, international trade, and Colombian and Latin American economic history.

Balakrishnan Rajagopal is Associate Professor of Law and Development at the Department of Urban Studies and Planning where he teaches international development.  He is also the founding Director of the Program on Human Rights and Justice at the Center for International Studies at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology).  He served for many years with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Cambodia and has consulted with the World Commission on Dams, UNDP, other UN agencies and international organizations and leading NGOs on human rights and international legal issues.  His publications include International Law from Below: Development, Social Movements and Third World Resistance (Cambridge University Press, 2003), and Reshaping Justice: International Law and the Third World (co-editor, Routledge, 2008).

Sanjay G. Reddy is an Associate Professor of Economics at The New School for Social Research. His areas of work include development economics, international economics, and economics and philosophy. He is Co-Academic Director of the India China Institute at the New School. Professor Reddy possesses a Ph.D. in economics from Harvard University, an M.Phil. in social anthropology from the University of Cambridge, and an A.B. in applied mathematics with physics from Harvard University. Most recently he received a research grant from the inaugural grants program of Institute for New Economic Thinking. He has previously taught at Columbia University, and been a visitor at diverse academic institutions in Europe, India and the U.S.

Saskia Sassen is the Robert S. Lynd Professor of Sociology and Co-Chair, The Committee on Global Thought, Columbia University ( Her recent books are Territory, Authority, Rights: From Medieval to Global Assemblages ( Princeton University Press 2008), A Sociology of Globalization (W.W.Norton 2007), and the 4th fully updated edition of Cities in a World Economy (Sage 2011). She is currently completing Expulsions: When complexity produces elementary brutalities (Harvard University Press). Her books are translated into over twenty languages. She has received multiple honors and awards.

Beverly Silver is a Professor in the Department of Sociology at Johns Hopkins University. Her research focuses on problems of development, labor, social conflict, and war, using comparative and world-historical methods of analysis. Her work recasts a variety of issues in a broad spatial and temporal framework in order to identify patterns of recurrence, evolution and “true novelty” in contemporary processes of globalization. She is the author of numerous publications including Chaos and Governance in the Modern World System and Forces of Labor: Workers’ Movements and Globalization since 1870, which won the 2005 Distinguished Scholarly Publication Award of the American Sociological Association. She teaches courses on social theory, macro-comparative methods, development, labor, and the political economy of global capitalism.

Jomo K. Sundaram is Assistant Director General at the Economic and Social Development Department of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in Rome. Sundaram previously served as the Assistant Secretary General for Economic Development in the United Nations' Department of Economic and Social Affairs (2005-2012). He was Founder Chair (2001-2004) of IDEAs, International Development Economics Associates where he now serves on the Advisory Panel. During 2008-2009, he served as adviser to the President of the 63rd United Nations General Assembly, and as a member of the [Stiglitz] Commission of Experts of the President of the United Nations General Assembly on Reforms of the International Monetary and Financial System. In 2007, he was awarded the Wassily Leontief Prize for Advancing the Frontiers of Economic Thought. He has authored and edited over a hundred books and translated 12 volumes besides writing many academic papers and articles for the media.
Robert H. Wade is Professor of Political Economy at the London School of Economics, and winner of the Leontief Prize in Economics 2008. A New Zealander, educated in Washington DC, New Zealand, and at Sussex University, he has worked at the Institute of Development Studies, Sussex (1972-95), the World Bank (1984-88), Princeton's Woodrow Wilson School (1989/90), MIT's Sloan School and Political Science ( 1992), and Brown University Watson Institute and Political Science (1996-2000). He carried out fieldwork on Pitcairn Island, in Italy, India, Korea, and Taiwan. His research on World Bank began in 1995 and continues (paper forthcoming in World Development on the face and reality of the 'voice' reforms of 2008-2010). Wade is the author of Irrigation and Politics in South Korea (1982), Village Republics: The Economic Conditions of Collective Action in India (1988, 1994, 2007), Governing the Market: Economic Theory and the Role of Government in East Asian Industrialization (1990, 2003). The latter won the American Political Science Association's award of Best Book in Political Economy, 1992.