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16th Lecture - Poverty and International Development with H. E. Rory Stewart

Date: Wednesday, 1 February 2023

Time: 09.00 - 10.30 GMT+3

Platform: Zoom Meetings & Youtube Livestream

Speaker: H.E. Rory Stewart, Former Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom (2019)

Moderator: Dr. Benjamas Nilsuwan from Chiang Mai University, Thailand





The International Development


For a period of about 150 years, academics were very interested in the idea that nations followed a fixed pattern of evolution. This was an idea which was, of course, very important to the German philosopher Hegel. It was central to Marxist philosophers. So, if you were a Marxist analyst, you would see states following a set evolution from feudalism, through capitalism, to socialism, and finally to communism. But, the form of theory which dominated most of the discourse since the 1950s, whilst broadly speaking the modernization theory of the United States - it argued that all nations regardless of where they were located were going to go through a set evolution of the development of free capitalist markets, increasing prosperity and growth, and democratization. These things would coincide with and cause each other.


Poverty in Africa


From the moment the financial crisis in 2008 and onwards, as we enter the next decade, Africa finds itself in a position of stagnation, conflict, poverty, and increasingly authoritarianism. If you look at Africa today, perhaps the deepest problem in Africa has been the problem of poverty. Although the rest of the world during the period from 1980 to today has seen an extraordinary transformation, in the number of people living in poverty, the same has not been true in Africa. If you look at the 1960s, poverty rates in Asia are broadly similar to Africa. If you look at the current day, Asia is astonishingly outperforming Africa in terms of its extreme poverty rates.


The Evolution of Geopolitics


I talked about the European experience, then the American experience from 1979 through to the current day, a period of economic explosion and optimism, going through the 1980s and 1990s, the stagnation of the 2000s, the emergence of populism, and now global conflict.

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