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CFP Market Revolutionaries: an Interdisciplinary Workshop on Neoliberal Development and the Global South (1900-2020)


When: 2-3 June 2020

Location: Utrecht University, Utrecht

Organised by: The Decolonisation Group (part of the  Utrecht University Centre for Global Challenges)

Proposal Deadline: 1 February 2020

Contact: Frank Gerits or Stacey Links


The Decolonisation Group

While the decolonisation of academia and society have become important topics, the significance and potential of such an approach is open to interpretation and often the subject of passionate debate. The Decolonisation Group at Utrecht University, which was created in January 2018, brings together historians, lawyers and postcolonial theorists to explore what can be gained from an interdisciplinary discussion. More information about the Decolonisation Group can be found on our website ( or on the website of the Centre for Global Challenges (Utrecht University) (

This workshop wants to invite scholars from the fields of history, law, political science, sociology, economics and media and cultural studies as well as other academics who work on the topics of Neoliberal economics – broadly defined – to join this debate. This will be our third yearly workshop. While previous editions turned to settler colonialism (2019) and sports (2019) we will now focus on Neoliberalism in the Global South.


Topic of the Workshop

This interdisciplinary workshop seeks to understand Neoliberal market reform and Neoliberal ideas as related to politics and the challenge of development in the Global South. In recent years the Neoliberal model has become contested on a global scale. In the United States and the United Kingdom, for instance, discussions about the 1% as well as the National Health Service (NHS) and “Medicare for all” have raised questions about the enduring legacy of Thatcherism and Reaganism.

In the Global South, the resistance against Neoliberal solutions has been overlaid with a call to decolonise societies. In Chile, for instance, protests over a raise of the Santiago Metro's subway fare in 2019 led to wider demonstrations against the ever increasing cost of livingprivatisation and inequality. In 2015, South Africa got swept up by student-led protests which demanded free university education. In the call for free university education – #FeesMustFall – the demand to decolonise and the resistance against Neoliberal reform become virtually indistinguishable. While Neoliberal reform has arguably been embraced in large parts of the Global South the link between Neoliberalism and decolonisation remains under-theorised. The demands for Neoliberal reform from the Global North through ‘global’ institutions such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the scepticism about this type of reform in the Global South still require more research. The case of the Structural Adjustment Policies (SAPs) of the 1980s, for instance, remains a highly contested research topic.

Debates about global inequality, equitable burden sharing in the fight against climate change, and the universality of human rights have been dominated by decision-making powers in the Global North. At the same time it is leaders from areas of the world that were formerly colonised, such as Asia, Latin America and Africa that have been able to make their mark and demand concessions.

In connecting past and present this workshop asks, how have/do economists, diplomats and other intellectuals in the past and present reconciled/reconcile Neoliberal proscriptions for reform with demands for global equality? How do we understand Neoliberalism as an ideology from the perspective of the Global South?


Prof. dr. David Engerman, Leitner International Interdisciplinary Professor of History at Yale University will act as a Keynote speaker on Neoliberalism in the Global South.

Engerman is a scholar of twentieth-century international history.  Building on his dual training in American and Russian/Soviet history at the University of California-Berkeley (where he received his Ph.D. in 1998), he wrote two books on the place of Russia and the USSR in American intellectual and political life: Modernization from the Other Shore: American Intellectuals and the Romance of Russian Development (Harvard UP, 2003) and Know Your Enemy: The Rise and Fall of America’s Soviet Experts (Oxford UP, 2009).  He has also researched and written on a variety of topics related to the history of development assistance, including a co-edited volume, Staging Growth: Modernization, Development and the Global Cold War (U-Mass Press, 2003), and most recently a monograph, The Price of Aid: The Economic Cold War in India (Harvard UP, 2018).  His new research focuses on the geopolitics of international economic inequality in the second half of the twentieth century.


Prof. dr. Ido de Haan, who is heading a research project on Neoliberalism in the Netherlands at Utrecht University will act as a keynote speaker on Neoliberalism in the Global North.

De Haan is a professor at Utrecht University and focuses on the modern history of Western Europe. He is the main applicant and project leader of the research project ‘Market Makers’. He is especially interested in the consequences of regime changes, revolutions and large scale violence, in particular the Holocaust. He also researches the history of political thought, the development of citizenship, state and civil society in Western Europe and the political history of the Netherlands in the 19th and 20th century.

This workshop will consider a variety of contributions. Topics amongst others may include:

  • Economic theory in the Global South

  • The history of African, Asian and Latin-American economists of the 1970s

  • World Bank policy in past and present

  • The impact of NGOs and their decision-making process

  • The continued relevance of the WTO

  • The links between the anticolonial struggle and Neoliberal reform

  • The Cold War and Neoliberalism

  • Emerging powers and Neoliberal reform

  • Neoliberalism and development reimagined

  • Neoliberalism and modernisation theory

  • The sociology of Neoliberal changes

  • The legal aspects of WTO reform and world trade

  • Economic theory of inequality

  • The history of capitalism and development theory



This workshop will take place on 2 and 3 June 2020 at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. Participants are expected to be present at all panels. Our first workshop day, 2 June, will start at noon (12h) and run until 17h, after which panellists are invited to dinner. Our second day will run from 9h until 17h. Please note, when planning your trip, that Monday 1 June is Pentecost Monday and a holiday in the Netherlands. Established as well as early career academics who are exploring new areas of research in the disciplines of history, law, political science, sociology and other disciplines are encouraged to apply. The best papers will be considered for publication in a special issue of a journal (more details will follow).


Submission of Abstracts (Deadlines)

Please send an abstract of max. 500 words, a short CV and a document in which you explain your travel arrangements and budget (if you require support) to by 3 February 2020 (midnight). For more information you can contact Frank Gerits ( and Stacey Links ( Contributors will be notified regarding the acceptance of their contribution by 20 February 2020. Invited speakers will be expected to submit a draft paper prior to the event, which will be circulated among all other participants. This is a small scale workshop intended to discuss research projects at different stages. Researchers from all disciplines are warmly invited to apply, particularly those research working in the Global South.

Some bursaries will be available to cover travel expenses for participants from outside of Utrecht, but these are unlikely to be enough to cover all expenses for all participants. We therefore ask participants to make their own travel arrangements and then apply for funding. Please include a budget for travel and 1 night stay, when you send in your paper proposal. Priority will be given to PhD candidates and early career scholars  who need to travel from afar. Bursaries can cover your entire trip or part of it, based on your need.


This workshop and the Decolonisation Group are supported by the Utrecht Centre for Global Challenges

Organising DecolGroup Members

  • Frank Gerits, Urecht University

  • Stacey Links, Leiden University

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