Podcast – The Power Shift: Decolonising Development

The Power Shift: Decolonising Development

Our podcast brings together activists, practitioners and thinkers to join a wide-ranging conversation on decolonisation, where they share ideas and identify tools for practical action.

If you’d like to know more about decolonising development – and what it means in practice, or you would love to change the way you do your work in the development sector, then this is the right place. 

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Episode #29: Insights from feminist organising for decolonisation initiatives. Alba Murcia and Kate Bird in conversation.

In this week’s episode, Alba Murcia and Kate Bird (The Development Hub) explore the findings from their research paper on feminist organising and decolonial initiatives. We talk about the work that feminist organising has developed in terms of understanding power and positionality, adopting an intersectional approach, and embracing diverse knowledges and value systems.

Access the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode #28: Reflecting on personal journeys and lessons learned at The Development Hub. Nompilo Ndlovu and Kate Bird in conversation.

In this week’s episode, Nompilo Ndlovu and Kate Bird reflect on their journeys so far within The Development Hub. 

We talk about the launch of the Skill Share Programme, which begins next Monday February 19th, and will provide participants with 6 weeks of structured content on personal transformation, working together across international teams, partnerships and organisational change, and finally, ecosystem transformation. Stay tuned for the following run of the programme!

Access the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode #27: Decolonising consultancy: building a rooted network of ethical values-driven consultants. Kate Newman (INTRAC) interviewed.

In this week’s episode, we talk to Kate Newman, INTRAC CEO, about the organisation’s shift in order to respond to the changes happening in the international development sector. She speaks about understanding decolonisation as a verb, as well as a commitment to processes of critical reflection, learning and unlearning.

Access the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode #26: Decoloniality as a way of being, and why language matters. Allan Moolman interviewed.

In this week’s episode, we talk to Allan Moolman, a South Africa-based staff member of a leading INGO, who tells us about their development of a decolonial partnership strategy. We focus on the power relations present in language, resource allocation, and local decision-making.

Allan emphasises the importance of community, building space to engage new ideas, and questioning language hierarchies in development projects.

Access the episode on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode #25: Tackling extreme poverty through locally led development at BRAC. Asif Saleh interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Asif Saleh speaks about BRAC as an INGO based in Bangladesh, which delves into understanding the underlying structural causes of poverty. Their work has focused on addressing the most pressing issues in a way that generates long-term stability.

We discuss the need to build capacity of Southern-based organisations, especially for climate change adaptation. 

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode #24: Disrupting colonial legacies through reparations and community healing. Edgar Villanueva interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Edgar Villanueva tells us about his book Decolonising Wealth, which was written in an effort to disrupt the flow of capital and to liberate resources for marginalised communities. 

Edgar tells us about how indigenous worldviews can contribute to community healing and to repairing the harms caused by the philanthropic sector.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode #23: Participatory grant-making & co-leadership at ADD International. Fredrick Ouko and Mary Ann Clements interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Fredrick Ouko and Mary Ann Clements discuss ADD International’s organisational structure, especially their roles as co-CEOs and how representation matters. They tell us about modelling the team leadership in line with the lived experiences they want to represent and advocate for. 

Through participatory grantmaking, they challenge the “colonisation of resources”, through which international funding goes mainly towards INGOs, rather than organisations of people with disabilities. 

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 22: USAID’s localization agenda: money, power and partnerships. Sarah Rose interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Sarah Rose introduces us to USAID’s approach to localisation as one of the biggest funding partners amongst bilateral donors. Sarah emphasises the importance of gathering the entire global development community in order to rethink roles and reform practices for localisation to be effective.

We talk about how USAID can think about strengthening their own capacity as an organisation to adapt to localisation efforts and integrate learnings from the Global South or majority world.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 21: Systems change in the philanthropy sector. Heather Grady & Tanya Beer interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Heather Grady from Rockefeller Philanthropic Advisors (RPA) and Tanya Beer, an independent consultant, present the Shifting Systems Initiative Evaluation. The evaluation explores what systems change means to the philanthropic and funding sector, and evaluates the contribution of the Shifting Systems Initiative to the sector.

Our discussion examines systems change practically, and explores alternative entry points such as ‘doing the inner work’, working together, implementing intersectional systems thinking, and trusting in order to cede control and take risks.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 20: Africa Rising: strong Africa-based Think Tanks with an Africa-centric development agenda. Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Mavis Owusu-Gyamfi from African Centre for Economic Transformation (ACET) describes the transformative approach they are implementing, through which African institutions work together to grow capacity in tendering and contract delivery, thereby strengthening the network of Think Tanks across the continent.

By doing this, they are demonstrating agency and flipping the narrative on the decolonisation and localisation agenda, which has been historically driven by the Global North.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 19: Shifting power through participatory applied learning and co-decision-making. Maya Hasan interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Maya Hasan, founder of the Fearless Project, talks us through her Shifting Power Accelerator program. Maya approaches decolonisation from her personal experience as a ‘third culture’ individual straddling multiple identities and growing up and working across the Global South and Global North.

She introduces her training program, which takes on a participatory applied learning approach which adopts feedback into the design of the program. Through the training program, Maya attempts to challenge the hierarchical notion of a set of values or technical expertise being valued more than lived experience of a local community. 

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 18: Challenging structural racism in the peacebuilding and humanitarian sector. Dylan Mathews interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Dylan Mathews talks us through Peace Direct’s journey as a Global North-based peacebuilding organisation. He reflects on the pivotal moment in which Peace Direct spoke to local partners and began to actively question how structural racism is embedded into the sector.

Dylan contends that there is a need for both organisations and individuals in the Global North to acknowledge that they may have benefitted from the development sector and that they have “done harm in the process of trying to help”.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 17: Bridging the personal and professional in anti-racism and decolonisation. Lena Bheeroo interviewed.

Lena Bheeroo (Bond) introduces us to Bond’s Anti-racism and Decolonising Framework and the wider work she’s done in tackling racism across organisations in the development sector. Lena highlights the importance of bringing in people working at all organisational levels as part of a collective effort.

She opens up about the personal and professional costs that come with speaking up about situations of racial discrimination or injustice within organisations, and highlights how processes of decolonisation and anti-racism must involve everyone.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 16: Disrupting the development sector from the Global South. Priyanthi Fernando interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Priyanthi Fernando (IWRAW Asia Pacific) tells us about her ‘disruptive’ approach to the development sector by continuously asserting Global South perspectives to the work being carried out.

Priyanthi highlights the importance of IWRAW-AP’s global agenda which is not only anti-racist and decolonial, but also anti-patriarchal and anti-neoliberal. 

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 15: Power, money and accountability in international development.

In this week’s episode, Dev Hub founder Kate Bird talks to us about power, money and accountability in international development. Kate delves into what it means to hold and exercise power and links the control of money to decision-making power.

This episode is a prompt review of what is meant when power is discussed across international development, and how we can begin to address power imbalances and promote a power shift.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 14: Why trust, bravery, and democracy matter when challenging racism at the organisational level. Arbie Baguios interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Arbie Baguios talks us through the Anti-Racist and Decolonial Framework he has developed with Start Network, which finds that racism and colonialism are based on structural superiority.

Arbie emphasises that trust, bravery, and democracy are necessary and essential values when attempting any kind of organisational change towards anti-racism and decolonisation. We discuss double standards when it comes to INGOs ‘failing’ and how to reframe notions of capacity to provide space for both learning and failure.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 13: South-South learning and influencing the global feminist discourse. Piyumi Samaraweera (CREA World) interviewed.

In this week’s episode, we speak to CREA’s Piyumi Samaraweera about CREA’s position as one of few organisations led in and by the Global South. Piyumi describes how CREA approaches its intersectional feminist values to generate South-South learning through its Institutes across India, South Asia and East Africa.

This conversation allows us to move away from the conventional centering of the Global North, and understand discourses about development and decolonisation from a Global South-led organisation. Piyumi also highlights CREA’s approach to working where their work will be valued, as well as learning from the work of others. 

Finally, Piyumi ends with a call to de-centre hierarchies of knowledge which value knowledge from the Global North, and instead to place vernacular languages at the centre of development and decolonisation learning.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 12: What Womankind Worldwide’s anti-racism pledge can teach us about decolonising INGOs. Disha Sughand interviewed.

In this episode, Disha Sughand from Womankind Worldwide talks us through her organisation’s anti-racism pledge and what this means for decolonisation. Disha delves into the ways in which anti-racism and localisation should be approached from a reflective and thoughtful place. Disha emphasises interrogating processes across an organisation’s structure in order to think through how they can be simplified or made more flexible.

We also discuss the principles and values present in Womankind and other feminist organisations that can contribute to furthering decolonisation and anti-racism objectives. Particularly, we draw on self-reflection as a tool within feminist organising that can be applied to decolonisation.This episode shines a light on what can be learned from feminist organising in order to enact a power shift towards decolonisation and anti-racism.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 11: Localising funding through circular accountability, flexibility and mutual trust. Steve Murigi interviewed.

In this week’s episode, we invite Steve Murigi back on to the podcast to have a more in-depth conversation about localising funding. Steve identifies localisation as the principal mechanism through which to shift power, and provides us with practical tools to ensure that localisation is effective. He states that localising priority setting and development strategy (what is done with development funding) is even more important than who holds the money.

We discuss the challenges that come with such a transformative approach, which Steve categorises as structural, administrative and ideological challenges. The conversation then shifts towards what localisation needs to look like in terms of accountability, flexibility, and agency for those working in the Global South.  Our conversation is highly practical and hands-on, and it allows us to get closer to understanding localised funding as a mechanism to decolonise international development.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 10: Rebalancing power in international development, including through localisation and how best to fund development action. Steve Murigi interviewed.

In this week’s episode, Steve Murigi explores the power dynamics in international development practice which are inherently racialised and often go unchallenged, particularly in the leadership of field projects in the Global South.

The conversation then shifted towards the issue of localization of funding in international development; Steve emphasised that localization needs to be carried out with accessibility and unconditionality in mind. 

They discuss the relationship between localisation and decolonisation, and finally emphasise the importance of language and the way that ‘development aid’ is framed. With great clarity, Steve talks us through his experience working in development, his thoughts on the third sector, and how we can begin to change the conversation towards a positive shift in power dynamics for everyone.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 9: Stock take - what have we learned so far. Charmaine McCaulay & Kate Bird

Prof Kate Bird and Charmaine McCaulay, founders of this podcast series, reflect on what they have learned from the past eight episodes.

Kate speaks on White fragility and ‘best White-ism’ within the development industry, and how she’s engaged in self-reflection regarding her role in the industry as a White woman.

Charmaine explores the hesitation from podcast guests to discuss their personal experiences of racism and colonial relations of power – and how this clashes with her background in psychotherapy.

They discuss the way self-reflection could be a first step to decolonising current practices of power and privilege.

Access the episode on Spotify and YouTube or read the transcript.

Episode 8: Kamna Patel

This episode explores the processes of racialisation inherent in international development, with a focus on critical reflexivity and praxis.

Kamna Patel explores this from her personal and professional perspective of living and working in the UK, evidencing how politics of difference and processes of Othering have constructed the basis for international development practice.

Kamna speaks with quiet passion about how racism is ‘baked into’ the very idea of ‘development. She proposes critical reflexivity as a tool to enact anti-racism practices within the industry of international development, and advocates for enacting change through everyday actions which work towards changing the discourse surround anti-racism and decolonisation.

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript.

Episode 7: Eyob Balcha Gebremariam

Episode #7 of The Power Shift: Decolonising Development challenges viewers and listeners to acknowledge the ‘dark side’ of ‘progress’ and ‘development’.

Dr Eyob Balcha Gebremariam, scholar activist specialising in decolonial African development, discuss the politics of knowledge production, Eurocentrism, the metaphysical Empire and pluriversality.

Eyob leaves listeners an important message about epistemic diversity and the power of acknowledging multiple histories and the dark underside of civilisation and development. 

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript

Episode 6: Emilie Tant

In Episode #6 of The Power Shift: Decolonising Development, Emilie Tant discusses the links between feminism, decolonisation and climate change. Drawing on their experience of living, working and organising in Santiago Chile, Emilie reflects on how Indigenous value and knowledge systems, such as cuerpo territorio and buen vivir, have the power to flip traditional understandings of development goals. Emilie reflects on legitimacy and ego as a White European person working in decolonisation and talks about the importance of using power and privilege to advance decolonisation efforts.

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript.

Episode 5: Dr Nompilo Ndlovu

In this episode, Dr Nompilo Ndlovu explores how Eurocentric understandings of Zimbabwe have been consolidated in written histories of the country and how this directly counters the lived experience and oral traditions and testimonies of Black Zimbabweans. Nompilo describes the many issues that need to be taken seriously if development research is to be decolonised and speaks eloquently about the the importance of listening, local knowledge and nuance – and identifies a set of practical steps for progressive change.

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript.

Episode 4: Prof Andries du Toit

This episode explores the land debate in South Africa and its links to national identity, nationalism and the unmended repercussions of South Africa’s experiences as a settler economy and the long run and brutal impact of apartheid. In a wide ranging conversation, Andries covers nation building, the trap of ‘best whiteism’, the need for social solidarity and local action, and how White people engaging in anti-racist and decolonisation spaces need to work on themselves and take personal responsiblity.

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript.

Episode 3: Dr Amiera Sawas

Amiera, Chief Research and Engagement Officer of Climate Outreach discusses links between racism, orientalism and coloniality and organisational performance – with people of colour commonly excluded from leadership roles and the priorities of communities at the ‘front line’ of the climate crisis poorly represented.

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript.

Episode 2: Prof Kate Bird and Charmaine McCaulay in conversation

Charmaine McCaulay, lead facilitator of the groundbreaking ‘Racism in Real Time’ training programme, and Prof Kate Bird, Senior Research Associate, ODI and Director of The Development Hub, talk about what drew them to work together on the decolonisation agenda.

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript.

Episode 1: Prof Kate Bird and Charmaine McCaulay in conversation

Charmaine McCaulay, lead facilitator of the ground-breaking ‘Racism in Real Time’ training programme, and Prof Kate Bird, Senior Research Associate, ODI and Director of The Development Hub, talk about what drew them to work together on the decolonisation agenda.

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript.

Podcast episodes

Trailer 1: The Power Shift: Decolonising Development

Prof Kate Bird introduces the podcast series and explains what it will cover – and why. 

Access the episode on Spotify, YouTube or read the Transcript.