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The many faces of Post-Development: alternatives to development in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti

The many faces of Post-Development: alternatives to development in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti Post-Development, a body of transitional imaginaries, is not homogenous, neither in its critique, nor in the alternatives pro- posed. Given that the term ‘development’ is already highly contentious, the question of what ‘alternatives to development’ might be, becomes difficult to respond to. In this article, we argue that Post-Development can assume many faces that are highly dependent upon their conceptual and geographical contexts. In analysing practices of resistance, contestation and subversion in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti we investigate in what ways various forms of peasant and community organising can be considered transformative and non-hegemonic. In exploring their common ground, we attempt to examine in what ways strategies of reciprocity, solidarity and commoning in different geographical locations and contexts can be understood as means of survival and/or as efforts to provide alternative pathways for societal and economic transformation. Keywords Post-Development · Alternatives · Solidarity · Commons · Transformation Introduction ‘the extent to which the development idea has been charged with hopes for redress and self-affirmation’ and that the Despite its core ideas having been formulated already in ‘desire for recognition and equity is framed in terms of the the last century, the Post-Development (PD) school and its civilizational model of the powerful nations’ (Sachs 2010: desire to investigate ‘alternatives to development’ continues viii). These desires for ‘development’ in a material sense to inspire debate in development theory, as the recent surge need to be taken seriously. A second lesson is the call to of publications (Singh et al. 2018; Kothari et al. 2019; Klein focus on more concrete PD alternatives ideally constituting and Morreo 2019; Ziai 2019) demonstrates. There have been ‘transformative initiatives’ (Kothari et al. 2019: xxix). new editions of some of the classical works, including reflec- ‘Development’ has repeatedly been called an amoeba, tions by early PD authors (Sachs 2010, 2019; Shiva 2010; a concept which can take many shapes and forms, or an Escobar 2012; Esteva/Prakash 2014; Rist 2014, 2019) that ‘empty signifier’, which can be filled with any kind of mean- add up to a lively debate which has not lost any of its rel- ing (Esteva 1985: 79; Sachs 1992: 4; Ziai 2009: 196). The evance today. A crucial lesson to be recognized is that, as Post-Development literature has formulated a poignant Sachs highlights, the first wave of PD had not recognized critique towards ‘development’ as a term, discourse, and practice, and has called for ‘alternatives to development’, as most recently advocated by Kothari et al. (2019). More often than not, the critique does hardly differentiate between alter - Handled by Federico Demaria, University of Barcelona, Spain. natives to neoliberalism (which can be found in the model * Julia Schöneberg of a capitalist developmental state), alternatives to capital- julia.schoeneberg@uni-kassel.de ism (which can be found in modernist regimes striving for socialist development), and alternatives to development Department for Development and Postcolonial Studies, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany (which can be found in social movements going beyond the practices of Western modernity) (see Fig. 4 Layers of Mazandaran University, Babolsar, Iran (Post-)Development Politics in Schöneberg 2021a, b). The Tehran University, Tehran, Iran Vol.:(0123456789) 1 3 1224 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 neoliberal counter-revolution in development theory and lifestyles as homogenous and inferior (Escobar 1995: 53), practice since the 1980s has contributed to obscure the dif- (4) as a process of subjugating social interactions to an ferences (see Ziai 2016, chapters 8 and 9 on these processes). economic logic (Esteva 1992: 19f), or (5) as a legitima- In this paper, we seek to illuminate some of the many tion of domination and violence to be exerted in the name faces of Post-Development. By investigating three case of progress (Nandy 1992: 139). Having named ‘develop- studies, we are exploring different imaginable concepts ment’ an amoeba-like concept and practice, one without of alternatives to ‘development’ that can be discovered in any real meaning, Gustavo Esteva claims that increasing practices in several parts of the world. While the case stud- disillusionment with the promise of ‘development’—pre- ies are deeply rooted in their specific geographical and cul- dicting an end of poverty as a result of the universalisa- tural contexts, they share commonalities in the way actors tion of Western models of the economy, politics and cul- enact forms of contestation and resistance. Assuming that ture—would lead marginalised people to build alternatives through hybridisation, non-Western cultures can engage in to this project. According to Esteva, these alternatives, a transformative way with ‘development’ as hegemonic dis- often connected to cultural traditions, could be found in course, and practice of modernity (Escobar 1995: 219), we the informal sector, manifest in neighbourhood and com- explore in what ways various forms of peasant and com- munity organizations and practices of reciprocity and soli- munity organising in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti can be con- darity, leading to ‘new commons’ after the old ones have sidered transformative and non-hegemonic. In exploring been destroyed or lost in the course of colonialism and their commonalities, we attempt to determine in what ways capitalism (Esteva 1992). They can be imagined as various strategies of reciprocity, solidarity, and commoning in dif- ‘constellations of heterogenous communitarian weavings ferent geographical locations and contexts serve as means that sustain life’ (Gutiérrez Aguilar and Lohman 2015). for survival and/or provide alternative pathways for societal Approaching the reality of lifeworlds in a pluriversal and economic transformation. manner means that alternatives to what Escobar (2020) calls the one-world world, are inevitably varied and diverse. They can take on different shapes and be prac- Post‑Development as theory and practice ticed on different layers, dependent on various epistemo- logical and ontological underpinnings (Schöneberg 2021a, We seek to understand Post-Development as a post-struc- b). Thus, we suggest that Post-Development, which we turalist critique of ‘development’ (Gudynas 2018: 85). PD understand as theoretical and practiced basis for alterna- can be considered as a set of theories and visions imagin- tives towards the five critical points above, can assume ing and describing possible and practiced alternatives that many faces in different conceptual and geographical con- share a common critique of ‘development’ as imperial and texts. What they have in common is a critique of the one- hegemonic construction. Under the label or frame of Post- world world, understood as the West’s claim to ‘arrogate Development a variety of different concepts are subsumed. itself the right to be “the world” and to relegate all other On the other hand, also practices that refuse to be labelled worlds to its rules, to a state of subordination, or to non- might be counted as such. Most recently, the diversity of existence’ (Escobar 2020: 14). The rules and categories practices and ideas has been showcased by the ‘Pluriverse: of this one-world world are centred around ‘development, Post-Development Dictionary’ (2019). growth, markets, competitiveness, the individual, and so The academic debate has pointed out the need for con- on’ (ibid.: 27). ceptualizing ‘alternatives to development’ but it remains Departing from the prevalent ‘development’ discourse as ambiguous in answering the question of what ‘development’ comprised of features, such as a focus on economic growth, really means (Ziai 2015). To avoid the danger of becoming productivism, the rhetoric of progress, anthropocentrism, arbitrary, the question of what we can learn from concrete capitalism, and rationalism, in the following, we are seeking experiences of ‘alternatives to development’ begs the ques- to bring to the fore alternatives to this homogenizing model tion ‘alternatives to what’? and the dominance of Western framing. In three case stud- Specifically, in our discussion of possible practiced ies, we will explore (1) if and how alternatives to Western alternatives we draw on five arguments that serve as fram- models exist and (2) if and how these possible alternatives ing for how theoretical Post-Development critiques relate need to differentiate between survival and resistance. We to the discourse and practice of ‘development’. ‘Develop- will do so by approaching struggles for food sovereignty by ment’ has been characterised as (1) an ideology of the moving beyond techno-managerial Westernized ‘develop- West promising prosperity to countries in the process of ment’ in Tanzania, community groups as resistance towards decolonization (Rahnema 1997: 379), (2) as a failed exper- the logic of economic man in Iran, and solidarity organising iment which tried to universalize Western models (Esteva in Haitian peasant groupings as alternatives to intervention- 1985: 78f), (3) as a discourse constructing non-Western ist ‘development’. 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1225 agribusiness in the entire world’ (85). The agroecological Food sovereignty and agroecology practices revolve around sustainable food systems and cul- in Tanzania: strategies for moving tivation methods to work with nature, which often evolved beyond techno‑managerial over multiple generations. From a Post-Development per- and western‑hegemonic ‘development’ spective, food sovereignty and agroecological practices can offer simultaneously a way of resistance and transformative In the first case study, we explore resistance and non-hegem- alternatives to ‘development’ (Escobar 2015; Toledo et al. onic alternatives to ‘development’ by Tanzanian smallholder 2019: 88). farmers who practice food sovereignty and agroecology. We illustrate the transformative potential of food sover- Food sovereignty as resistance and solidarity eignty and agroecology among smallholder farmers in the context of the expanding agroindustry through the South- An example of the food sovereignty movement’s resistance ern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). is the struggle against the $3.4 billion SAGCOT initiative The exploratory case study comprises a literature review of in Tanzania. The SAGCOT corridor promises develop- food sovereignty and agroecological practice in the South- ment, modernizing and commercialization of agriculture ern Highlands of Tanzania that is supported by research on while reducing poverty, achieving food security, and miti- the SAGCOT corridor, including 31 semi-structured inter- gating climate change (SAGCOT 2011: ii). The ambitious views with donors, government officials, and agribusiness Private–Public Partnership initiative claims to commer- corporations, participant observation, and an analysis of cialize over 230,000 smallholder farmers, acquire 350,000 project documents. This was carried out over five months hectares of land for industrial agriculture production, and between 2017 and 2018. We argue that food sovereignty generate 420,000 new jobs by 2030 (SAGCOT 2011: 7). and agroecology practiced by smallholder farmers along the An alliance between (multi)national agribusiness actors, SAGCOT corridor embody grassroots organizing, common- Western donors, the Tanzanian government, and NGOs ing, and localized and ancestral knowledges, which entail implement the corridor vision through a ‘green moderniza- key aspects of what Escobar (1995: 215f.) defines as Post- tion development discourse’ (Bergius and Buseth 2019). In Development practices. short, the prestigious SAGCOT project attempts to bring The concepts of food sovereignty and agroecology are ‘development’ to the Southern Highlands by commercializ- among the alternatives to ‘development’ that gain increased ing ‘underproductive’ smallholders and ‘underutilized’ land. visibility in the Post-Development debate. For example, From a Post-Development perspective, this illustrates what Gutiérrez Escobar et al. (2019) argues in Pluriverse: A Post- Esteva (1992) calls ‘violent transformation.’ Development Dictionary that food sovereignty ‘impl[ies] the The SAGCOT initiative demonstrates the uneven impacts defence of the knowledge, practices, and territories of food of Western-hegemonic ‘development’ that results in land producing peoples’ (187). For smallholder farmers, food grabbing, adverse inclusion, and exploitation. First, the land sovereignty is about the democratic control of the food sys- acquisitions for commercial monoculture farming under the tem (Patel 2009: 670). At the same time, food sovereignty SAGCOT initiative result in multiple cases of land grabbing has a complex and conflicting history with agroecology, (ActionAid 2015; Bergius et al. 2017; Chung 2017) and limit but it can be an emancipatory practice (see Holt-Giménez access to land, water, and communal grazing areas for the and Altieri 2013). The interlinking of food sovereignty and smallholder farmers (Bergius et al. 2017: 10; Schiavoni et al. agroecology offers radical alternative practices with trans- 2018: 6; Sulle 2020: 343). Second, the SAGCOT strategy of formative potential for moving beyond techno-managerial outgrower schemes to incorporate smallholders in large farm and Western-hegemonic ‘development’ (Amin 2015; Gutiér- estates as contractors increase inequalities because small- rez Escobar et al. 2019). For this potential to unfold, agro- holders with capital and more land access tend to benefit ecology needs to be an integral part of the food sovereignty more than those with less (Martiniello 2016; Sulle 2017). movement and resist attempts of co-optation (Gliessman et al. 2019; Holt-Giménez and Altieri 2013). According to Toledo et al. (2019), agroecology is a practice that ‘offers solutions to the serious environmental and food production The Tanzanian land governance system is based on the colonial problems caused by modern or industrialized agriculture and state, and today’s Land Act No. 4 and the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 organizes land into three categories: village land, reserve land, and general land (Shivji 1998). Shivji (2002) argues that the “divi- sion between ‘private’ and ‘public’ or ‘individual’ and ‘common’ For the case study  in Tanzania, we use the terms peasants and therefore has to be located primarily at the use and management of smallholder farmers interchangeably, while acknowledging the diver- resources rather than ownership” (50). The village common lands sity and heterogeneity of their activities. The primary focus in this compromise about 70% of all land and is often used for agrarian use case study are smallholder farmers who cultivate crops. and land deals. 1 3 1226 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 Third, the large-scale industrial farm estates in the corri- Practicing agroecology and commons dor offer often poor working conditions and exploit farm- workers (Schiavoni et al. 2018; Twomey et al. 2015). At the Along the SAGCOT corridor, smallholder farming com- same time, the investments in industrial farms and outgrower munities practice food sovereignty and agroecology to schemes increase the pressure on the commons and small- defend their livelihoods from agribusiness expansion and holders’ livelihoods throughout the Southern Highlands to build sustainable food systems. According to Schiavoni of Tanzania (Bluwstein 2018; Massay and Kassile 2019). et al. (2018: 10), many rural communities create local food Therefore, the enclosures turn the commons into resources systems with limited external support. An example of self- that are used for creating economic value (see Esteva 1992: reliance and autonomy through practiced agroecology can 18) and lead to the dispossession of rural communities be found among smallholder farmers from the Luguru ethnic across Tanzania (Shivji 2002: 55). The SAGCOT initiative group in the Uluguru Mountains. Mdee et al. (2019: 16) might benefit agribusiness actors and a few smallholders, but argue that over generations, Luguru smallholders have been it is ill-suited for the needs of the majority of smallholder sharing the stewardship of a freshwater irrigation system, farmers. while they resist the purchase of an irrigation permit from Some smallholder farms organized resistance based on the state and thus face the danger of evictions. The resistance principles of food sovereignty against the expanding corri- against state authorities enables autonomous and communal dor. A key actor in the struggle against SAGCOT and large- management of water as a commons in a sustainable way. scale land grabbing is the National Network of Small-scale This place-based dimension of autonomy and challenging Farmers Groups (Mtandaowa Vikundivya Wakulima Tanza- state authority can be interpreted as Post-Development alter- nia, MVIWATA). MVIWATA is part of La Via Campesina, natives in practice (Escobar 2018: 174). and advocates for smallholder farmers in the spirit of Mtetezi Agroecological practices can create autonomy and self- wa Mkulima ni Mkulima Mwenyewe, which translates to the sufficiency for many smallholder farmers. For example, defender of a farmer is the farmer. According to Martin- smallholder farmers of the villages of Mbinga Mhalule and iello and Nyamsenda (2018: 7), the NGO boasts 400,000 Ikongosi in the Southern Highlands have adopted agroeco- members who are organized in relatively autonomous grass- logical practices to ‘work with nature,’ and create a certain roots chapters and in a national-level structure. MVIWATA self-sufficiency in food for more autonomy and improved mobilize resistance against large-scale land acquisitions and livelihoods through selling surplus vegetables (Schiavoni land grabbing by supporting grassroots movements and com- et al. 2018: 10). A central aspect of the smallholders practic- missioning studies on land grabbing throughout Tanzania ing agroecology is the low financial cost (Mdee et al. 2019; (Martiniello and Nyamsenda 2018: 19). Schiavoni et al. 2018). This is in contrast to the SAGCOT In addition, MVIWATA supports solidarity among small- approach, which relies on a capital-intensive technology holder farmers through various  training and promoting package of pesticides, fertilizers, hybrid seeds, and other the democratic control of the food production process for agricultural inputs supplied by multinational agribusiness transforming the food system. The workshops and training corporations. The technology package is ill-suited for the organized by MVIWATA for smallholders include agroecol- needs of smallholder farmers and for many of them eco- ogy and climate justice. For example, in the Songea Rural nomically not feasible (Schiavoni et al. 2018: 6), and risks District, MVIWATA has partnered with smallholder farmers creating or deepening dependencies (Mbunda 2016: 276). to build their own cassava processing plant as an alterna- The cultivation of localized knowledges is another criti- tive to the dependency on maize cultivation (Schiavoni et al. cal aspect of a transformative Post-Development alternative, 2018: 9). Therefore, the activities of MVIWATA are not which is reflected in the horizontal sharing of agroecologi- limited to resistance against SAGCOT and land grabbing, cal practices. For example, smallholder farmers from the but the organization also supports solidarity, autonomy, and Luguru ethnic group share knowledge on agroecologi- grassroots organizing. cal practices mostly via demonstration plots, and its low financial cost enables a weaving together of existing local knowledges and agroecological practices (Mdee et al. 2019). Furthermore, Schiavoni et al. (2018) identify ‘horizontal learning exchanges’ as an essential characteristic of small- Mbunda (2016) argues that the SAGCOT initiative marks the holder farmers across generations, for example, building up state’s alliance with international investors for large-scale farming the soil to move away from fertilizer dependency, which while lacking support and losing trust in the peasantry (288). often takes place on collectively managed demonstration https:// www. mviwa ta. or. tz/ about- us-2/ plots (11). These localized, grassroots, and intergenerational https:// www. mviwa ta. or. tz/ mviwa ta- na- la- via- campe sina- lvc- seaf- practices are central for semi-autonomy from the state and waend esha- mafun zo- ya- kilimo- cha- kiiko lojia- na- haki- ya- mazin gira- kwa- wazal ishaji- wadogo/ 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1227 multinational agribusiness corporations, and thus can be was based on the idea of human beings possessing infinite seen as a Post-Development alternative (see Escobar 1995). needs for material goods, acting as rational maximisers of However, smallholder farmers are diverse in their politi- utility pursuing this goal. However, this assumption of homo cal (re)actions to land-based investments, and their trans- oeconomicus acting according to this logic is ‘untenable formative practices can be at times more survival-oriented. when confronted with what we know about ancient soci- The (re)actions to land deals from smallholders cover a spec- eties and cultures and even with what we can still see in trum that ranges from struggles of resistance to demanding some parts of the world’, says Esteva (1985: 17). After real- inclusion as contract farmers (Borras and Franco 2013). izing that the project of ‘development’ failed to deliver the This relates to the tension of agrarian class differentiation good life that was promised, people on the margins resisted (Bernstein 2014), which is observed among smallholder the ‘economic invasion of their lives’ by ‘disengaging from farmers in SAGCOT outgrower schemes (Sulle 2017). the economic logic’ and creating ‘new commons’ through Similarly, the internal tension within MVIWATA can be ‘strengthening forms of interaction embedded in social fab- differentiated between a ‘political’ and ‘project’ orientation ric and by breaking the economic principle of the exchange approach, while the former advocates for food sovereignty of equivalents’ (19). Esteva (1985) asserts that in these alter- and the latter carry out donor-funded projects (Martiniello natives to ‘development’ ‘common men’ (20) and women and Nyamsenda 2018). The internal contradictions of organ- would manage to re-embed the economic sphere within izations such as MVIWATA and the spectrum of responses social relations (14), engaging in practices of reciprocity by smallholders to SAGCOT investments illustrate a central and solidarity. Esteva’s claims have been disputed by crit- challenge of the food sovereignty movement in Tanzania. ics, accusing Post-Development of romanticizing poverty In this section, we have shown various examples of Tan- (Corbridge 1998) and mistakenly identifying practices aris- zanian smallholder farmers advancing food sovereignty ing out of practical necessity as resistance to Western mod- and practicing agroecology to resist ‘development’ through els. ‘When those excluded unite in groups and forge ties of struggles for autonomy, grassroots organizing, and cultivat- solidarity’, Schuurman argues, ‘this must be seen not as an ing localized and ancestral knowledges. The agroecological embryonic form of a new society, but rather as a survival practices and food sovereignty along the SAGCOT corridor strategy’ (Schuurman 1993: 28). can improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods and sustain- Against the backdrop of this debate on whether or not ably work with nature (Mdee et al. 2019; Schiavoni et al. practices arising out of practical necessity or survival needs 2018). We argue that despite contradictions and the absence can be considered as resistance to Western models (Schuur- of direct references to Post-Development, these practices man 1993), we are investigating practices in three differ - transform socioecological relationships in the spirit of the ent marginalised communities. We are asking: Can we find pluriverse. alternative economic practices of reciprocity and solidarity here or do people on the margins conform to the model of ‘economic man’, the utility-maximizing individual? We will Marginalised communities in Tehran: further explore what these practices (if they exist) look like, Post‑Development as resistance to what extent they are limited to a specific social group, and against the logic of economic man whether they should be interpreted as survival strategies or forms of a new society, how we can differentiate between the The second case study investigates several informal settle- two and to what extent they are related to cultural traditions. ments in Tehran, focusing on the economic realm. The theo- The study is based on data collected during field research retical grounding is provided by Esteva (1985), who points from January to May 2020 in Tehran. The research meth- out that the post-war project of ‘development’ continued the ods included participant observation and interviews that are ‘violent transformation’ of societies (first performed in and backed up by a literature review. We gained access to the then exported from Europe), in which ‘the economic sphere’ communities through family ties (one of the authors origi- is excised from society and culture as an autonomous sphere nally comes from the Azeri community in Nasimshahr) and and installed ‘at the centre of politics and ethics’ (14), sub- intermediaries who have worked with the Afghan and the jecting them to the imperative of maximizing production and drug addict community in district 19 for several years, build- productivity and disvaluing allegedly unproductive activities ing up relations of trust. Data was also provided by com- (15). This new project no longer relied on domination by munity members themselves on the basis of (oral) informed Europeans and was compatible with anti-colonialism. On the individual level, it implied the transformation of humans into economic beings as a ‘precondition for the emergence of economic society’ predicated on the assumption of chronic scarcity (15). A new society geared to endless accumulation 1 3 1228 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 consent. Translators were not necessary. The interviewees history: social relations and marriages take place usually were not taking part in the research design. There were no within those originating in a particular village. We inter- conflicts or challenges during the research process, apart viewed members of the Azeri community who have their from one intermediary being called upon to ‘first take care roots in the village of Hassan Kandy Rood. Their social of his own people’ (Iranians) before worrying about Afghan web is extremely dense, so that one community member immigrants. Research results will be presented informally could outline the precise family structure and situation of and orally to community members. all 136 households. In this community, most earn a living as construction workers or shop keepers. Voluntary work at Marginalisation and exclusion in Tehran construction sites of relatives is frequent. On a larger scale, communal voluntary work has also been used for the con- In the past decades, Tehran, the capital and largest city of struction of a mosque for the community. The subsequent Iran, has seen a massive influx of rural migrants. This can enlargement of the mosque has been financed by donations be understood as a result of social transformation processes of the community. The women regularly provide cleaning, as described by Esteva (1985), which we discussed in the and the men provide cooking services and take care of main- theory section above: the advent, spread and intensification tenance and repairs. Religious sites are seen as commons of capitalist practices and the imperative of competition and to which everyone contributes and which everyone benefits ever increasing productivity have led to a destruction of tra- from. In the case of serious illnesses whose costs cannot ditional rural livelihoods and the attempt to find new ones be covered by the families themselves, the community col- in the modern, urban sectors of the economy. However, the lects donations in support. In case of economic hardship or promises of ‘development’ did not materialize for the major- need, interest-free loans are available from other members of ity of migrants. In Tehran, marginalised communities are the community. However, all solidarity practices take place characterised by insecure employment or unemployment; within the limits not only of the Azeri community but even lack of access (or extremely difficult access) to social secu- more specifically between those with roots in the village of rity, public facilities, hospitals, and universities; low literacy, Hassan Kandy Rood in the Northwest of Iran. Practices of or few years of schooling; and insufficient transport infra- solidarity towards non-members of this community usually structure. Our geographical focus was Tehran and its suburbs do not take place, the primary focus of moral obligations and we chose three different marginalised communities with seems to be one’s own village (even if they do not live there different and increasing degrees of marginalisation: anymore). The one exception is the Islamic Ashurah mourn- ing ceremony, where food is provided for everyone regard- (1) an Azeri community in Nasimshahr, Hassan Kandy less of origin or religion. Rood. (2) an Afghan community in district 19, Kooreh Pas Solidarity practices within the Afghan community Khune. of district 19 (3) a drug addict community in district 19, Seyyed Shapour (behind the stadium of Shahid Kazemi). The Afghans from the Hazara community originally come from central Afghanistan and speak a Persian dialect (Haz- We found a number of economic practices which deviated aragi). Those we interviewed were mostly born in Iran since from the model of the utility maximizing individual (‘eco- their families have migrated 60 or 70 years ago from the nomic human being’/homo oeconomicus) and may constitute Afghan provinces of Daykundi and Bamyan. Discrimi- elements of an economy of solidarity. nated against or even persecuted as Shi ‘ites, they migrated to Iran but continue to be confronted with discrimination. Solidarity networks in the Azeri community Only since 2017, their children are allowed to attend public of Nasimshahr schools and as non-citizens, they face numerous obstacles. In particular they are not allowed to buy property. In con- The residents of Nasimshahr usually work in Tehran and trast, the majority of the Azeri community from Nasim- under the conditions of deficient public transport. They shahr introduced above, own their houses, however small were among those hit hardest by the price hike of petrol in and remote from job opportunities it may be. Members November 2019, which led to massive riots. The Azeri or of the Hazara community, on the other hand, are living in Azerbaijani, mostly Shia Muslims, are the second largest houses belonging to a semi-active brick kiln, where most ethnic group in Iran (between 10 and 15 million people) and of the men are partially employed. Their right to housing is their language is closely related to Turkish. The Azeri living linked to their precarious employment and thus endangered in Nasimshahr have migrated from villages in the Northwest by the imminent shutdown of the kiln in the near future for of Iran and their social structure still mirrors this migration 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1229 ecological reasons. Many also work as traders in the bazaar money and drugs are shared if they are available, and mutual of Kholazeer. help and compassion are mentioned as characteristic for the We find similar practices of reciprocity and solidarity in social relations in the community. However, this changes in this community as in the Azeri community, for example in circumstances where drugs are not available. Then people cases of illness, voluntary work to repair houses of relatives resort to less benign practices, such as stealing or robbery, or in the construction of a Husseinye (a room for prayer to get access to drugs. which is considered less sacred than a mosque). After two community members contracted tuberculosis, an impres- Can we find alternative economic practices sive amount of 30 million Toman (approx. $1700) had been of reciprocity and solidarity among people collected for their treatment (while 1.5 million Toman or on the margins in Tehran? $84 is considered a good salary). Child care is periodically (usually in the summer when women work as agricultural Just as proponents of Post-Development such as Esteva labourers in other areas of Tehran) provided by neighbour- (1985) claim, we do find economic practices of reciprocity ing families, and so is help for illiterates by more educated and solidarity among the marginalised communities in Teh- community members, also concerning practical matters like ran, constituting what he has described as ‘new commons’, finding the way or talking to a doctor. Again, the religious a sense of community, cooperation and collective owner- site serves as commons of the community. Here, too, we can ship and responsibility (mostly related to religious sites). find a closely knit social web among the people, containing However, this finding has to be qualified in several respects. many practices not compatible with the idea of homo oeco- First, the economic practices of reciprocity and solidarity nomicus. However, again, practices of solidarity are usu- (e.g., non-market finance, such as interest-free loans or ally confined to one’s own local community. This may also donations) aim at limited redistribution of material goods be the result of the discrimination they face as Afghans in but not at equality; sometimes they are part of patron–client Iran. One informant from a different community explicitly relationships and reproduce hierarchies in status regarding criticised our intermediary for also supporting a school for material affluence or education. Second, the practices of Afghan children, reminding him that he should first help reciprocity and solidarity are usually limited to one’s own ‘his own people’. village, ethnic and/or religious group and are compatible with a lack of solidarity towards members of other groups. Practices of reciprocity and solidarity among drug Among the first two groups, these practices are seen as in addicts of Seyyed Shapour line with cultural traditions. Third, among the drug-users, who are outcasts from their own families and ethnic and reli- The third community is not based on ethnic origin, but gious groups, practices of reciprocity and solidarity extend on the common habit of drug addiction and partly also on to all members of the social group beyond ethnic and reli- the common activity of drug dealing. The drug addicts of gious borders. Fourth, in this social group, which is the most Seyyed Shapour live in sheds (‘Alonak’) which they have marginalised one, the practices of reciprocity and solidar- built themselves. These are located behind the stadium of ity go deeper than in other groups, amounting at times to a Shahid Kazemi, in the vicinity of a garbage dump. The exist- joint/common economy (e.g., non-market transactions such ence of the individuals in this group is strongly characterised as sharing or alternative property such as common funds). by social exclusion from their families (see also Tohidi et al. However, it must be said, that this is highly conditional on 2018). While the houses in Nasimshar are formalized today access to drugs for the respective community members and and those of the Afghan community are semi-informal (brick their solidarity is, therefore, much more fragile than in the houses with electricity and gas but not running water), the other cases. settlements of Seyyed Shapour are entirely informal. The As for the concept of ‘development’ prevalent among hangout at the back of the stadium has no electricity, and the community members, there is often a low level of lit- people use candles and fire to illuminate it. Shelters have no eracy and education and no conscious or explicit concept gas or water, and there is only one water pipe about 150 m to be found. However, there were certainly ideas of what away. People living here have usually been cast out from ‘improvement’ or a ‘good life’ could look like. As a rule, their communities due to drug addiction (mostly ‘Shishe’: the marginalised we spoke to were seeking to find suitable crystal meth). On some days, food is provided through chari- employment and income, to provide education for their ties. Almost no one possesses an identity card. The rate of children, and to be able to afford insurance and retirement. literacy and the occurrence of high school degrees is higher Therefore, their desires did not seem to diverge significantly than in the other two communities. People earn money by from a mainstream model of ‘development’. selling drugs, collecting and selling waste, and stealing. Practices of reciprocity and solidarity are common: food, 1 3 1230 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1970s forcing Haiti to reduce tariffs on American imports, in (Un‑)tying the knot of colonialism particular highly subsidized US rice, and not least, tied aid in Haiti: solidarity as strategy for survival programmes and neoliberal foreign investment projects, such and alternatives to interventionist as the Caracol industrial park. Haitian voices in the Interim and modernist models of ‘development’ Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) tasked with coordinat- as progress and growth ing reconstruction efforts after the 2010 earthquake were systematically side-lined. The narrative that has been con- In the third case study, we look at two forms of Haitian peas- structed around Haiti is that of a helpless disaster-stricken ant organisations as possible living ‘alternatives’ and forms country in utter need of external intervention to be ‘lifted’ of resistance to the interventions of ‘development’: First, out of poverty and misery and achieve progress and mod- rural community groups, gwoupman peyizan, and second, ernization (Maurer and Pollmeier 2020). national peasant networks. Following Escobar’s call to look At the same time, the long tradition of collective organi- for ‘alternative practices in the resistance [of] grassroots sation, social action, solidarity and resistance that appears groups,’ (Escobar 1995: 222) the organising of marginalised in a variety of forms both in the countryside (Bell 2013; peasant communities, their resistance to capitalist ‘develop- Smith 2001) as well as in urban areas such as the capital ment’ logics and their alternative conceptions of the ‘econ- Port-au-Prince (Schuller 2012) continues to exist. The spirit omy (solidarity and reciprocity instead of homo oeconomi- of mawonaj, as important emancipatory force of the Hai- cus and the world market), of politics (direct democracy tian Revolution, and seen as the historical root of Haitian instead of centralized authorities) and of knowledge (tradi- communal action, continues to provide the basis for collec- tional knowledge systems instead of modern science)’ (Ziai tive organisation. While local peasant groups do not refer 2007: 5) seem an especially apt entry point for exploration. explicitly to a theory of Post-Development, it is striking that Haitian history boasts one of the, if not the, most ground- they also do not use the term ‘development’ other than to breaking revolutions in global history: Haitians succeeded refer to the work of foreign INGOs and their project-led in overthrowing slavery, making Haiti the world’s first inde - interventions. We, therefore, argue that a practice of Post- pendent Black republic. The slave uprising of 1791 resulted Development in Haiti, even if it may not be named as such, in the Haitian Revolution and finally the declaration of the can be understood as resistance towards domination and vio- Repiblik Ayiti in 1804. In the years preceding the revolt, lence exerted in the name of progress (Nandy 1992). The groups of slaves, marroons, had repeatedly fled plantations following observations were made on several visits to Haiti to found autonomous settlements and social communities in between 2012 and 2017. One of the authors was able to the mountains to evade exploitation, organise resistance and spend time living in one of the communities and participat- claim liberty. This practice of mawonaj (marronage) is seen ing in various forms of gathering and community organising. as having laid the ‘groundwork for an uprising that united In an effort to give back, she engaged in prolonged consul- slaves across plantations and in doing so enabled them to tational exchanges with an INGO actor, which, as a result, smash the system from within’ (Dubois 2005: 55). Despite adapted their mode of intervening in the community from the Haitian Revolution remaining conspicuously absent from a project-based to a solidarity-led engagement (Schöneberg European history books, it is, in the words of Aimé Césaire, 2021b). In the following, we outline peasant organizing as a symbol for ‘where the knot of colonialism was first tied, possible forms of prefigurative politics in a Post-Develop- and where it was first untied’ (Césaire 1981: 24). Since then, mental sense that practice alternatives to interventionist and Haiti has experienced long periods of occupation, (US tol- modernist models of ‘development’ as progress and growth. erated) dictatorship and prolonged intervention by a wide array of ‘development’ actors, international organisations Peasant solidarity as strategy for survival and international NGOs. The country’s economy was crip- pled by the imposition of French reparation claims for the Haitian gwoupman peyizan, literally translated as small loss of its most prosperous colony right after independence, peasant groups, are rooted in a long tradition of solidarity but also by agricultural policies imposed by the US in the and social organising and are plentiful across the country. Groups range from small collectives in remote rural villages, to highly structured organisations covering whole communi- ‘Peasant’ is mostly considered a derogatory term. According to ties, some of which uphold close relations to international Bryceson the term ‘peasant’ has been ‘largely associated with a way non-governmental organisations (INGOs) (Schöneberg of life and frame of mind counter to ‘modernization’ (Bryceson 2000: 1). Nevertheless, Haitian small farmers, tipeyizan, consciously and 2016). Some Haitian peasant organisations practice alter- politically self-identify as such. As Bell points out, it ‘accurately natives that are considered non-hegemonic. These appear in describes a socioeconomic position in an intact feudal society in a the spheres of (1) the economy, through credit and seed bank way that the descriptor ‘farmer’, which names only a profession, does systems independent from the state, (2) the social, through not’. (Bell 2013: 11). 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1231 an understanding of society and community shaped by reci- be reaching beyond assumptions made by global capital- procity, interrelatedness and mutual interdependence, (3) ism. However, in practice, it has become clear that while politics, through networks and committees based on radical the enacted solidarities are strong on the local level, they are democratic decision-making, and (4) knowledge, through too weak to prompt transformative change on a larger scale. story-telling, song and the practice of traditional medicinal knowledges. While these practices of solidarity and com- moning are survival strategies, in a Post-Developmental Discussion: alternatives to ‘development’ sense they are also acts of political resistance, grounded in in practice? a strong understanding of community and solidarity that is in opposition to the individualistic and self-centred doctrine We have claimed above that ‘alternatives to development’ of modernist progress. inevitably have many faces, just like the term ‘development’ At the same time, national movements, such as the Mouv- is always ambiguous and more than once has been identified man Peyizan Papaye (MPP), one of the largest associations as a container term, an empty signifier devoid of any mean- with its network spanning nationally and internationally, ing and vulnerable to becoming co-opted for and filled with seek to build national and transnational alliances. In their dominant, euro-hegemonic political discourses and agendas. own words, MPP seeks to ‘gather all the poor peasants […] The discussion concerned with food sovereignty and in all corners of Haiti in a major national movement to build practiced agroecology in the Southern Highlands illustrates a good life for all […] and for everyone to be free to think, a concrete Post-Development alternative in Tanzania, which act and speak.’ According to MPP founder Chavannes Jean- challenges the hegemonic ‘development’ paradigm. As a Baptiste, MPP activities include reforestation, disseminating development project, the SAGCOT corridor demonstrates practices of sustainable agriculture, connecting and network- the expansion of corporate agriculture in its neo-liberal ing with peasants around the country on soil conservation, variant that deepens capitalism and coloniality. In contrast, food sovereignty and the fight for land rights, while simul- the food sovereignty movement and practiced agroecology taneously organising marches and participating in protests by Tanzanian smallholders offer an alternative and non- globally, joining with other peasant organizations inside the hegemonic transformation of socioecological relationships, country and internationally defending the poor all over the while at times also catering for survival-oriented strategies. world. The transformative practices are characterized by grass- However, while it is easy to romanticize the functioning roots organizing and hybridization of localized and ances- of these structures that are to some extent self-reliant on the tral knowledges with agroecological practices that embody very local level, it also needs to be acknowledged that strug- some key aspects of what Escobar (1995: 215f) defines as gles oftentimes only serve to secure a, rather precarious, Post-Development practices. status quo and often fail at prompting profound processes The cases of marginalized communities in Tehran point of transformative change (Schöneberg 2016). In this sense, out how, even in the absence of social movements, alterna- the critique of ‘development’ defined as an ideology of the tives to the standard economic practices of capitalism can be West promising prosperity, as proposed by Rahnema (1997) found, practices based on reciprocity and solidarity which and others, is ambiguous. While peasant groupings certainly do not correspond to the homo oeconomicus. Just like Esteva contest structures of global capitalism that exclude them (1992) claims, we find ‘new commons’ at the margins that from participating successfully in global markets, their main, transcend the Western model and the attempts to replicate and in fact very justified concern, is to make ends meet— it. However, the ‘alternatives to development’ are usually something that collective organising on the local level just confined to one’s community, which is defined by origin, about serves to achieve, but nothing more. religion or drug use. This begs the question, whether these Thinking of Post-Development as a pluriverse with many alternatives merely constitute survival strategies or sow the faces, Haitian peasant organisations contribute to the mul- seeds for transforming societal relations. titude of resistance struggles in the realm of food and food The story from Haiti highlights peasant organising as a production. Gwoupman peyizan radically contest the state means for survival and the practice of alternatives in the through setting up semi-autonomous communities that are spheres of the economy, politics and community. This form practicing alternatives. In their struggles for food sover- of organising is traditionally rooted in resistance struggles eignty they enact resistance to a global, exploitative system to colonialism and coloniality, and repeatedly referenced that extracts labour and resources. To a certain extent this through oral traditions, such as song and proverbs. Similarly is transformative and non-hegemonic as structures seem to to the examples from Tanzania, Haitian peasant struggles highlight the alternatives practiced on a grassroots level, but also show their demands for participation in ‘development’ and transformative, hybrid engagements between tradition Own translation: https:// www. mppha iti. org/ Objek tif- nou- yo. html 1 3 1232 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 and ‘development’ as a discourse of modernity (Escobar grassroots alternatives that are interwoven by a solidarity for 1995: 219). survival needs and a political solidarity towards alternatives, The Iranian case differs from the Tanzanian and Haitian both in societal as well as economic spheres. Across all three case, because there is no organised civil society resistance alternatives, the shared stewardship of the commons and and/or NGO action. The commonality across the three exam- communal relations play a significant role. These alternative ples is that the communities exist beyond the realms and embodied social relations are rooted in all three examples in institutions of the state. The practices of reciprocity and soli- the rejection of an economic logic perpetuating capitalism darity in all three Teheran communities can be interpreted through ‘development’ and, to varying degrees, in more- as survival strategies insofar as mutual help is much more than-capitalist spaces, ‘operating within, outside and along- necessary to ensure reproduction for the marginalised com- side capitalism in a more nuanced view’ (Naylor 2022). munities. However, in contrast to what Schuurman (1993) As the cases from Tanzania and Haiti outline in particu- and Corbridge (1998) seem to imply, this finding does not lar, the production of food, access to seeds and marketization contradict the arguments from a Post-Development perspec- of produce is ultimately political. For that reason, peasant tive. Economic practices may be motivated by more than a struggles seem an especially apt entry point for the wider single purpose. Strategies which effectively promote collec- discussion on non-hegemonic alternatives. As Lang asserts, tive survival can simultaneously be motivated by solidarity ‘food is both a symptom and a symbol of how we organize with members of one’s own ‘imagined community’ (Ander- ourselves and our societies. It is both a vignette and a micro- son 1987)—no matter whether this community is based on cosm of wider social realities’ (1999: 218). In the struggle shared nationality, religion, addiction or humanity. Esteva for food sovereignty and food democracy the most funda- argued that practices beyond a narrow self-interest of ‘eco- mental questions as to how societies are structured seem nomic man’ or person had become ‘the very condition for to culminate. Food is ‘at the centre of all societies and its survival’ for people on the margins (1992: 17). Yet the ‘new dynamics reflect pressures by different actors (producers, commons’ and ‘alternatives to development’ can also arise consumers, politicians, investors, traders, and others)’ (Wald from necessity—why should a survival strategy not be the 2015: 109). embryonic form of a new society? The alternatives sketched in the cases above and many About 25 years ago, Escobar (1995) proclaimed that truly other Post-Development writings are by no means com- just alternatives can only come from the grassroots, or the prehensive, nor unambiguous. In fact, these, among many local, the communities. This may be right to some extent, other examples of alternatives ‘hardly denote a monolithic, yet realising that grassroots alternatives do not exist in a homogenous group of subjects empty of friction’ (Akbulut vacuum, but in a system of globalised, neoliberal capitalism et al. 2022, this Special Feature). Nevertheless, they illus- makes it hard to imagine how these alternatives can claim trate the need and the options for alternatives to destabi- their just and legitimate spaces. Matthews (2018) reminds us lize the hegemonic model, that is to say in opposition to that there are no spaces where no power exists. Any kind of ‘currently dominant processes of development, including imagination of alternatives to development must resist fram- its structural roots in modernity, capitalism, state domina- ing these possible alternatives as a pure and untainted way of tion, patriarchy’ (Demaria and Kothari 2022: 140). What life. In this context, it has to be acknowledged that some of they have in common is that their practicing of solidarity the alternative actors such as MVIWATA are in fact funded for survival and working for alternatives is not an either/ by progressive parts of the development apparatus and the or question. What they underline is the need for a move- opposition between ‘alternative development’ and ‘alterna- ment of (intellectual) work and practice combining post- and tives to development’ is not as clear-cut as some make it out decolonial critiques of a neocolonial capitalist world system, to be—so maybe progressive politics could bridge the divide and its asymmetric power divides, similarly and simulta- (Ziai 2015). It seems that truly transformative alternatives neously on local, regional, national and global levels. This to the many faces of ‘development’ need to be thought and transformative practice must take place in the global North practiced both on the levels of local and transnational soli- and South likewise. As Gustavo Esteva has poignantly for- darity networks at the same time. mulated: ‘There is no one alternative to one bad system. The three case studies from Tanzania, Iran, and Haiti Therefore, we ally to fight this system and at the same time converge on the Post-Development theme of localized and create our own, different worlds in opposition to it. In addi- tion, these worlds—they are different but connected, united but distinct. […]. One no, and many yeses’ (emphasis added, as quoted in Kingsnorth 2004: 44). For example, the debate initiated by the Emancipatory Rural Poli- tics Initiative on rural authoritarian populism demonstrates the highly Acknowledgements We want to acknowledge the major contribu- problematic aspects of authoritarian local and grassroots movement tions of all people in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti, who have so generously (see Scoones et al. 2017). 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1233 shared time, thoughts and struggles with us. In addittion, we grate- Demaria F and Kothari A (2022) The Post-Development agenda. Paths fully acknowledge the support of Mehrdad Tohidi, Reyhane Saremi to a pluriverse of convivial futures. In: Adloff F and Caillé A and Hamidavar Zamani in conducting the empirical research in Iran. (eds) Convivial futures. Views from a Post-Growth Tomorrow. Last, but not least we thank the anonymous reviewers for their critical transcript and constructive comments. Dubois L (2005) Avengers of the new world. Harvard University Press Escobar A (1995) Encountering development. The making and unmak- ing of the third world. Princeton University Press, Princeton Funding Open Access funding enabled and organized by Escobar A (2012) Encountering development. The making and unmak- Projekt DEAL. This research was supported by Deutsche ing of the third world, 2nd edn. Princeton University Press, Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Princeton Escobar A (2015) Degrowth, postdevelopment, and transitions: a pre- Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri- liminary conversation. 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J Haitian Stud Publisher's Note Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to 18(1):50–73 jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations. Schuurman FJ (1993) Introduction: development theory in the 1990s. In: Schuurman FJ (ed) Beyond the impasse. New directions in development theory. Zed Books, London, pp 1–48 1 3 http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Sustainability Science Springer Journals

The many faces of Post-Development: alternatives to development in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti

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Springer Journals
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Copyright © The Author(s) 2022
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1862-4065
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10.1007/s11625-022-01164-5
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Abstract

Post-Development, a body of transitional imaginaries, is not homogenous, neither in its critique, nor in the alternatives pro- posed. Given that the term ‘development’ is already highly contentious, the question of what ‘alternatives to development’ might be, becomes difficult to respond to. In this article, we argue that Post-Development can assume many faces that are highly dependent upon their conceptual and geographical contexts. In analysing practices of resistance, contestation and subversion in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti we investigate in what ways various forms of peasant and community organising can be considered transformative and non-hegemonic. In exploring their common ground, we attempt to examine in what ways strategies of reciprocity, solidarity and commoning in different geographical locations and contexts can be understood as means of survival and/or as efforts to provide alternative pathways for societal and economic transformation. Keywords Post-Development · Alternatives · Solidarity · Commons · Transformation Introduction ‘the extent to which the development idea has been charged with hopes for redress and self-affirmation’ and that the Despite its core ideas having been formulated already in ‘desire for recognition and equity is framed in terms of the the last century, the Post-Development (PD) school and its civilizational model of the powerful nations’ (Sachs 2010: desire to investigate ‘alternatives to development’ continues viii). These desires for ‘development’ in a material sense to inspire debate in development theory, as the recent surge need to be taken seriously. A second lesson is the call to of publications (Singh et al. 2018; Kothari et al. 2019; Klein focus on more concrete PD alternatives ideally constituting and Morreo 2019; Ziai 2019) demonstrates. There have been ‘transformative initiatives’ (Kothari et al. 2019: xxix). new editions of some of the classical works, including reflec- ‘Development’ has repeatedly been called an amoeba, tions by early PD authors (Sachs 2010, 2019; Shiva 2010; a concept which can take many shapes and forms, or an Escobar 2012; Esteva/Prakash 2014; Rist 2014, 2019) that ‘empty signifier’, which can be filled with any kind of mean- add up to a lively debate which has not lost any of its rel- ing (Esteva 1985: 79; Sachs 1992: 4; Ziai 2009: 196). The evance today. A crucial lesson to be recognized is that, as Post-Development literature has formulated a poignant Sachs highlights, the first wave of PD had not recognized critique towards ‘development’ as a term, discourse, and practice, and has called for ‘alternatives to development’, as most recently advocated by Kothari et al. (2019). More often than not, the critique does hardly differentiate between alter - Handled by Federico Demaria, University of Barcelona, Spain. natives to neoliberalism (which can be found in the model * Julia Schöneberg of a capitalist developmental state), alternatives to capital- julia.schoeneberg@uni-kassel.de ism (which can be found in modernist regimes striving for socialist development), and alternatives to development Department for Development and Postcolonial Studies, University of Kassel, Kassel, Germany (which can be found in social movements going beyond the practices of Western modernity) (see Fig. 4 Layers of Mazandaran University, Babolsar, Iran (Post-)Development Politics in Schöneberg 2021a, b). The Tehran University, Tehran, Iran Vol.:(0123456789) 1 3 1224 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 neoliberal counter-revolution in development theory and lifestyles as homogenous and inferior (Escobar 1995: 53), practice since the 1980s has contributed to obscure the dif- (4) as a process of subjugating social interactions to an ferences (see Ziai 2016, chapters 8 and 9 on these processes). economic logic (Esteva 1992: 19f), or (5) as a legitima- In this paper, we seek to illuminate some of the many tion of domination and violence to be exerted in the name faces of Post-Development. By investigating three case of progress (Nandy 1992: 139). Having named ‘develop- studies, we are exploring different imaginable concepts ment’ an amoeba-like concept and practice, one without of alternatives to ‘development’ that can be discovered in any real meaning, Gustavo Esteva claims that increasing practices in several parts of the world. While the case stud- disillusionment with the promise of ‘development’—pre- ies are deeply rooted in their specific geographical and cul- dicting an end of poverty as a result of the universalisa- tural contexts, they share commonalities in the way actors tion of Western models of the economy, politics and cul- enact forms of contestation and resistance. Assuming that ture—would lead marginalised people to build alternatives through hybridisation, non-Western cultures can engage in to this project. According to Esteva, these alternatives, a transformative way with ‘development’ as hegemonic dis- often connected to cultural traditions, could be found in course, and practice of modernity (Escobar 1995: 219), we the informal sector, manifest in neighbourhood and com- explore in what ways various forms of peasant and com- munity organizations and practices of reciprocity and soli- munity organising in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti can be con- darity, leading to ‘new commons’ after the old ones have sidered transformative and non-hegemonic. In exploring been destroyed or lost in the course of colonialism and their commonalities, we attempt to determine in what ways capitalism (Esteva 1992). They can be imagined as various strategies of reciprocity, solidarity, and commoning in dif- ‘constellations of heterogenous communitarian weavings ferent geographical locations and contexts serve as means that sustain life’ (Gutiérrez Aguilar and Lohman 2015). for survival and/or provide alternative pathways for societal Approaching the reality of lifeworlds in a pluriversal and economic transformation. manner means that alternatives to what Escobar (2020) calls the one-world world, are inevitably varied and diverse. They can take on different shapes and be prac- Post‑Development as theory and practice ticed on different layers, dependent on various epistemo- logical and ontological underpinnings (Schöneberg 2021a, We seek to understand Post-Development as a post-struc- b). Thus, we suggest that Post-Development, which we turalist critique of ‘development’ (Gudynas 2018: 85). PD understand as theoretical and practiced basis for alterna- can be considered as a set of theories and visions imagin- tives towards the five critical points above, can assume ing and describing possible and practiced alternatives that many faces in different conceptual and geographical con- share a common critique of ‘development’ as imperial and texts. What they have in common is a critique of the one- hegemonic construction. Under the label or frame of Post- world world, understood as the West’s claim to ‘arrogate Development a variety of different concepts are subsumed. itself the right to be “the world” and to relegate all other On the other hand, also practices that refuse to be labelled worlds to its rules, to a state of subordination, or to non- might be counted as such. Most recently, the diversity of existence’ (Escobar 2020: 14). The rules and categories practices and ideas has been showcased by the ‘Pluriverse: of this one-world world are centred around ‘development, Post-Development Dictionary’ (2019). growth, markets, competitiveness, the individual, and so The academic debate has pointed out the need for con- on’ (ibid.: 27). ceptualizing ‘alternatives to development’ but it remains Departing from the prevalent ‘development’ discourse as ambiguous in answering the question of what ‘development’ comprised of features, such as a focus on economic growth, really means (Ziai 2015). To avoid the danger of becoming productivism, the rhetoric of progress, anthropocentrism, arbitrary, the question of what we can learn from concrete capitalism, and rationalism, in the following, we are seeking experiences of ‘alternatives to development’ begs the ques- to bring to the fore alternatives to this homogenizing model tion ‘alternatives to what’? and the dominance of Western framing. In three case stud- Specifically, in our discussion of possible practiced ies, we will explore (1) if and how alternatives to Western alternatives we draw on five arguments that serve as fram- models exist and (2) if and how these possible alternatives ing for how theoretical Post-Development critiques relate need to differentiate between survival and resistance. We to the discourse and practice of ‘development’. ‘Develop- will do so by approaching struggles for food sovereignty by ment’ has been characterised as (1) an ideology of the moving beyond techno-managerial Westernized ‘develop- West promising prosperity to countries in the process of ment’ in Tanzania, community groups as resistance towards decolonization (Rahnema 1997: 379), (2) as a failed exper- the logic of economic man in Iran, and solidarity organising iment which tried to universalize Western models (Esteva in Haitian peasant groupings as alternatives to intervention- 1985: 78f), (3) as a discourse constructing non-Western ist ‘development’. 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1225 agribusiness in the entire world’ (85). The agroecological Food sovereignty and agroecology practices revolve around sustainable food systems and cul- in Tanzania: strategies for moving tivation methods to work with nature, which often evolved beyond techno‑managerial over multiple generations. From a Post-Development per- and western‑hegemonic ‘development’ spective, food sovereignty and agroecological practices can offer simultaneously a way of resistance and transformative In the first case study, we explore resistance and non-hegem- alternatives to ‘development’ (Escobar 2015; Toledo et al. onic alternatives to ‘development’ by Tanzanian smallholder 2019: 88). farmers who practice food sovereignty and agroecology. We illustrate the transformative potential of food sover- Food sovereignty as resistance and solidarity eignty and agroecology among smallholder farmers in the context of the expanding agroindustry through the South- An example of the food sovereignty movement’s resistance ern Agricultural Growth Corridor of Tanzania (SAGCOT). is the struggle against the $3.4 billion SAGCOT initiative The exploratory case study comprises a literature review of in Tanzania. The SAGCOT corridor promises develop- food sovereignty and agroecological practice in the South- ment, modernizing and commercialization of agriculture ern Highlands of Tanzania that is supported by research on while reducing poverty, achieving food security, and miti- the SAGCOT corridor, including 31 semi-structured inter- gating climate change (SAGCOT 2011: ii). The ambitious views with donors, government officials, and agribusiness Private–Public Partnership initiative claims to commer- corporations, participant observation, and an analysis of cialize over 230,000 smallholder farmers, acquire 350,000 project documents. This was carried out over five months hectares of land for industrial agriculture production, and between 2017 and 2018. We argue that food sovereignty generate 420,000 new jobs by 2030 (SAGCOT 2011: 7). and agroecology practiced by smallholder farmers along the An alliance between (multi)national agribusiness actors, SAGCOT corridor embody grassroots organizing, common- Western donors, the Tanzanian government, and NGOs ing, and localized and ancestral knowledges, which entail implement the corridor vision through a ‘green moderniza- key aspects of what Escobar (1995: 215f.) defines as Post- tion development discourse’ (Bergius and Buseth 2019). In Development practices. short, the prestigious SAGCOT project attempts to bring The concepts of food sovereignty and agroecology are ‘development’ to the Southern Highlands by commercializ- among the alternatives to ‘development’ that gain increased ing ‘underproductive’ smallholders and ‘underutilized’ land. visibility in the Post-Development debate. For example, From a Post-Development perspective, this illustrates what Gutiérrez Escobar et al. (2019) argues in Pluriverse: A Post- Esteva (1992) calls ‘violent transformation.’ Development Dictionary that food sovereignty ‘impl[ies] the The SAGCOT initiative demonstrates the uneven impacts defence of the knowledge, practices, and territories of food of Western-hegemonic ‘development’ that results in land producing peoples’ (187). For smallholder farmers, food grabbing, adverse inclusion, and exploitation. First, the land sovereignty is about the democratic control of the food sys- acquisitions for commercial monoculture farming under the tem (Patel 2009: 670). At the same time, food sovereignty SAGCOT initiative result in multiple cases of land grabbing has a complex and conflicting history with agroecology, (ActionAid 2015; Bergius et al. 2017; Chung 2017) and limit but it can be an emancipatory practice (see Holt-Giménez access to land, water, and communal grazing areas for the and Altieri 2013). The interlinking of food sovereignty and smallholder farmers (Bergius et al. 2017: 10; Schiavoni et al. agroecology offers radical alternative practices with trans- 2018: 6; Sulle 2020: 343). Second, the SAGCOT strategy of formative potential for moving beyond techno-managerial outgrower schemes to incorporate smallholders in large farm and Western-hegemonic ‘development’ (Amin 2015; Gutiér- estates as contractors increase inequalities because small- rez Escobar et al. 2019). For this potential to unfold, agro- holders with capital and more land access tend to benefit ecology needs to be an integral part of the food sovereignty more than those with less (Martiniello 2016; Sulle 2017). movement and resist attempts of co-optation (Gliessman et al. 2019; Holt-Giménez and Altieri 2013). According to Toledo et al. (2019), agroecology is a practice that ‘offers solutions to the serious environmental and food production The Tanzanian land governance system is based on the colonial problems caused by modern or industrialized agriculture and state, and today’s Land Act No. 4 and the Village Land Act No. 5 of 1999 organizes land into three categories: village land, reserve land, and general land (Shivji 1998). Shivji (2002) argues that the “divi- sion between ‘private’ and ‘public’ or ‘individual’ and ‘common’ For the case study  in Tanzania, we use the terms peasants and therefore has to be located primarily at the use and management of smallholder farmers interchangeably, while acknowledging the diver- resources rather than ownership” (50). The village common lands sity and heterogeneity of their activities. The primary focus in this compromise about 70% of all land and is often used for agrarian use case study are smallholder farmers who cultivate crops. and land deals. 1 3 1226 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 Third, the large-scale industrial farm estates in the corri- Practicing agroecology and commons dor offer often poor working conditions and exploit farm- workers (Schiavoni et al. 2018; Twomey et al. 2015). At the Along the SAGCOT corridor, smallholder farming com- same time, the investments in industrial farms and outgrower munities practice food sovereignty and agroecology to schemes increase the pressure on the commons and small- defend their livelihoods from agribusiness expansion and holders’ livelihoods throughout the Southern Highlands to build sustainable food systems. According to Schiavoni of Tanzania (Bluwstein 2018; Massay and Kassile 2019). et al. (2018: 10), many rural communities create local food Therefore, the enclosures turn the commons into resources systems with limited external support. An example of self- that are used for creating economic value (see Esteva 1992: reliance and autonomy through practiced agroecology can 18) and lead to the dispossession of rural communities be found among smallholder farmers from the Luguru ethnic across Tanzania (Shivji 2002: 55). The SAGCOT initiative group in the Uluguru Mountains. Mdee et al. (2019: 16) might benefit agribusiness actors and a few smallholders, but argue that over generations, Luguru smallholders have been it is ill-suited for the needs of the majority of smallholder sharing the stewardship of a freshwater irrigation system, farmers. while they resist the purchase of an irrigation permit from Some smallholder farms organized resistance based on the state and thus face the danger of evictions. The resistance principles of food sovereignty against the expanding corri- against state authorities enables autonomous and communal dor. A key actor in the struggle against SAGCOT and large- management of water as a commons in a sustainable way. scale land grabbing is the National Network of Small-scale This place-based dimension of autonomy and challenging Farmers Groups (Mtandaowa Vikundivya Wakulima Tanza- state authority can be interpreted as Post-Development alter- nia, MVIWATA). MVIWATA is part of La Via Campesina, natives in practice (Escobar 2018: 174). and advocates for smallholder farmers in the spirit of Mtetezi Agroecological practices can create autonomy and self- wa Mkulima ni Mkulima Mwenyewe, which translates to the sufficiency for many smallholder farmers. For example, defender of a farmer is the farmer. According to Martin- smallholder farmers of the villages of Mbinga Mhalule and iello and Nyamsenda (2018: 7), the NGO boasts 400,000 Ikongosi in the Southern Highlands have adopted agroeco- members who are organized in relatively autonomous grass- logical practices to ‘work with nature,’ and create a certain roots chapters and in a national-level structure. MVIWATA self-sufficiency in food for more autonomy and improved mobilize resistance against large-scale land acquisitions and livelihoods through selling surplus vegetables (Schiavoni land grabbing by supporting grassroots movements and com- et al. 2018: 10). A central aspect of the smallholders practic- missioning studies on land grabbing throughout Tanzania ing agroecology is the low financial cost (Mdee et al. 2019; (Martiniello and Nyamsenda 2018: 19). Schiavoni et al. 2018). This is in contrast to the SAGCOT In addition, MVIWATA supports solidarity among small- approach, which relies on a capital-intensive technology holder farmers through various  training and promoting package of pesticides, fertilizers, hybrid seeds, and other the democratic control of the food production process for agricultural inputs supplied by multinational agribusiness transforming the food system. The workshops and training corporations. The technology package is ill-suited for the organized by MVIWATA for smallholders include agroecol- needs of smallholder farmers and for many of them eco- ogy and climate justice. For example, in the Songea Rural nomically not feasible (Schiavoni et al. 2018: 6), and risks District, MVIWATA has partnered with smallholder farmers creating or deepening dependencies (Mbunda 2016: 276). to build their own cassava processing plant as an alterna- The cultivation of localized knowledges is another criti- tive to the dependency on maize cultivation (Schiavoni et al. cal aspect of a transformative Post-Development alternative, 2018: 9). Therefore, the activities of MVIWATA are not which is reflected in the horizontal sharing of agroecologi- limited to resistance against SAGCOT and land grabbing, cal practices. For example, smallholder farmers from the but the organization also supports solidarity, autonomy, and Luguru ethnic group share knowledge on agroecologi- grassroots organizing. cal practices mostly via demonstration plots, and its low financial cost enables a weaving together of existing local knowledges and agroecological practices (Mdee et al. 2019). Furthermore, Schiavoni et al. (2018) identify ‘horizontal learning exchanges’ as an essential characteristic of small- Mbunda (2016) argues that the SAGCOT initiative marks the holder farmers across generations, for example, building up state’s alliance with international investors for large-scale farming the soil to move away from fertilizer dependency, which while lacking support and losing trust in the peasantry (288). often takes place on collectively managed demonstration https:// www. mviwa ta. or. tz/ about- us-2/ plots (11). These localized, grassroots, and intergenerational https:// www. mviwa ta. or. tz/ mviwa ta- na- la- via- campe sina- lvc- seaf- practices are central for semi-autonomy from the state and waend esha- mafun zo- ya- kilimo- cha- kiiko lojia- na- haki- ya- mazin gira- kwa- wazal ishaji- wadogo/ 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1227 multinational agribusiness corporations, and thus can be was based on the idea of human beings possessing infinite seen as a Post-Development alternative (see Escobar 1995). needs for material goods, acting as rational maximisers of However, smallholder farmers are diverse in their politi- utility pursuing this goal. However, this assumption of homo cal (re)actions to land-based investments, and their trans- oeconomicus acting according to this logic is ‘untenable formative practices can be at times more survival-oriented. when confronted with what we know about ancient soci- The (re)actions to land deals from smallholders cover a spec- eties and cultures and even with what we can still see in trum that ranges from struggles of resistance to demanding some parts of the world’, says Esteva (1985: 17). After real- inclusion as contract farmers (Borras and Franco 2013). izing that the project of ‘development’ failed to deliver the This relates to the tension of agrarian class differentiation good life that was promised, people on the margins resisted (Bernstein 2014), which is observed among smallholder the ‘economic invasion of their lives’ by ‘disengaging from farmers in SAGCOT outgrower schemes (Sulle 2017). the economic logic’ and creating ‘new commons’ through Similarly, the internal tension within MVIWATA can be ‘strengthening forms of interaction embedded in social fab- differentiated between a ‘political’ and ‘project’ orientation ric and by breaking the economic principle of the exchange approach, while the former advocates for food sovereignty of equivalents’ (19). Esteva (1985) asserts that in these alter- and the latter carry out donor-funded projects (Martiniello natives to ‘development’ ‘common men’ (20) and women and Nyamsenda 2018). The internal contradictions of organ- would manage to re-embed the economic sphere within izations such as MVIWATA and the spectrum of responses social relations (14), engaging in practices of reciprocity by smallholders to SAGCOT investments illustrate a central and solidarity. Esteva’s claims have been disputed by crit- challenge of the food sovereignty movement in Tanzania. ics, accusing Post-Development of romanticizing poverty In this section, we have shown various examples of Tan- (Corbridge 1998) and mistakenly identifying practices aris- zanian smallholder farmers advancing food sovereignty ing out of practical necessity as resistance to Western mod- and practicing agroecology to resist ‘development’ through els. ‘When those excluded unite in groups and forge ties of struggles for autonomy, grassroots organizing, and cultivat- solidarity’, Schuurman argues, ‘this must be seen not as an ing localized and ancestral knowledges. The agroecological embryonic form of a new society, but rather as a survival practices and food sovereignty along the SAGCOT corridor strategy’ (Schuurman 1993: 28). can improve smallholder farmers’ livelihoods and sustain- Against the backdrop of this debate on whether or not ably work with nature (Mdee et al. 2019; Schiavoni et al. practices arising out of practical necessity or survival needs 2018). We argue that despite contradictions and the absence can be considered as resistance to Western models (Schuur- of direct references to Post-Development, these practices man 1993), we are investigating practices in three differ - transform socioecological relationships in the spirit of the ent marginalised communities. We are asking: Can we find pluriverse. alternative economic practices of reciprocity and solidarity here or do people on the margins conform to the model of ‘economic man’, the utility-maximizing individual? We will Marginalised communities in Tehran: further explore what these practices (if they exist) look like, Post‑Development as resistance to what extent they are limited to a specific social group, and against the logic of economic man whether they should be interpreted as survival strategies or forms of a new society, how we can differentiate between the The second case study investigates several informal settle- two and to what extent they are related to cultural traditions. ments in Tehran, focusing on the economic realm. The theo- The study is based on data collected during field research retical grounding is provided by Esteva (1985), who points from January to May 2020 in Tehran. The research meth- out that the post-war project of ‘development’ continued the ods included participant observation and interviews that are ‘violent transformation’ of societies (first performed in and backed up by a literature review. We gained access to the then exported from Europe), in which ‘the economic sphere’ communities through family ties (one of the authors origi- is excised from society and culture as an autonomous sphere nally comes from the Azeri community in Nasimshahr) and and installed ‘at the centre of politics and ethics’ (14), sub- intermediaries who have worked with the Afghan and the jecting them to the imperative of maximizing production and drug addict community in district 19 for several years, build- productivity and disvaluing allegedly unproductive activities ing up relations of trust. Data was also provided by com- (15). This new project no longer relied on domination by munity members themselves on the basis of (oral) informed Europeans and was compatible with anti-colonialism. On the individual level, it implied the transformation of humans into economic beings as a ‘precondition for the emergence of economic society’ predicated on the assumption of chronic scarcity (15). A new society geared to endless accumulation 1 3 1228 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 consent. Translators were not necessary. The interviewees history: social relations and marriages take place usually were not taking part in the research design. There were no within those originating in a particular village. We inter- conflicts or challenges during the research process, apart viewed members of the Azeri community who have their from one intermediary being called upon to ‘first take care roots in the village of Hassan Kandy Rood. Their social of his own people’ (Iranians) before worrying about Afghan web is extremely dense, so that one community member immigrants. Research results will be presented informally could outline the precise family structure and situation of and orally to community members. all 136 households. In this community, most earn a living as construction workers or shop keepers. Voluntary work at Marginalisation and exclusion in Tehran construction sites of relatives is frequent. On a larger scale, communal voluntary work has also been used for the con- In the past decades, Tehran, the capital and largest city of struction of a mosque for the community. The subsequent Iran, has seen a massive influx of rural migrants. This can enlargement of the mosque has been financed by donations be understood as a result of social transformation processes of the community. The women regularly provide cleaning, as described by Esteva (1985), which we discussed in the and the men provide cooking services and take care of main- theory section above: the advent, spread and intensification tenance and repairs. Religious sites are seen as commons of capitalist practices and the imperative of competition and to which everyone contributes and which everyone benefits ever increasing productivity have led to a destruction of tra- from. In the case of serious illnesses whose costs cannot ditional rural livelihoods and the attempt to find new ones be covered by the families themselves, the community col- in the modern, urban sectors of the economy. However, the lects donations in support. In case of economic hardship or promises of ‘development’ did not materialize for the major- need, interest-free loans are available from other members of ity of migrants. In Tehran, marginalised communities are the community. However, all solidarity practices take place characterised by insecure employment or unemployment; within the limits not only of the Azeri community but even lack of access (or extremely difficult access) to social secu- more specifically between those with roots in the village of rity, public facilities, hospitals, and universities; low literacy, Hassan Kandy Rood in the Northwest of Iran. Practices of or few years of schooling; and insufficient transport infra- solidarity towards non-members of this community usually structure. Our geographical focus was Tehran and its suburbs do not take place, the primary focus of moral obligations and we chose three different marginalised communities with seems to be one’s own village (even if they do not live there different and increasing degrees of marginalisation: anymore). The one exception is the Islamic Ashurah mourn- ing ceremony, where food is provided for everyone regard- (1) an Azeri community in Nasimshahr, Hassan Kandy less of origin or religion. Rood. (2) an Afghan community in district 19, Kooreh Pas Solidarity practices within the Afghan community Khune. of district 19 (3) a drug addict community in district 19, Seyyed Shapour (behind the stadium of Shahid Kazemi). The Afghans from the Hazara community originally come from central Afghanistan and speak a Persian dialect (Haz- We found a number of economic practices which deviated aragi). Those we interviewed were mostly born in Iran since from the model of the utility maximizing individual (‘eco- their families have migrated 60 or 70 years ago from the nomic human being’/homo oeconomicus) and may constitute Afghan provinces of Daykundi and Bamyan. Discrimi- elements of an economy of solidarity. nated against or even persecuted as Shi ‘ites, they migrated to Iran but continue to be confronted with discrimination. Solidarity networks in the Azeri community Only since 2017, their children are allowed to attend public of Nasimshahr schools and as non-citizens, they face numerous obstacles. In particular they are not allowed to buy property. In con- The residents of Nasimshahr usually work in Tehran and trast, the majority of the Azeri community from Nasim- under the conditions of deficient public transport. They shahr introduced above, own their houses, however small were among those hit hardest by the price hike of petrol in and remote from job opportunities it may be. Members November 2019, which led to massive riots. The Azeri or of the Hazara community, on the other hand, are living in Azerbaijani, mostly Shia Muslims, are the second largest houses belonging to a semi-active brick kiln, where most ethnic group in Iran (between 10 and 15 million people) and of the men are partially employed. Their right to housing is their language is closely related to Turkish. The Azeri living linked to their precarious employment and thus endangered in Nasimshahr have migrated from villages in the Northwest by the imminent shutdown of the kiln in the near future for of Iran and their social structure still mirrors this migration 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1229 ecological reasons. Many also work as traders in the bazaar money and drugs are shared if they are available, and mutual of Kholazeer. help and compassion are mentioned as characteristic for the We find similar practices of reciprocity and solidarity in social relations in the community. However, this changes in this community as in the Azeri community, for example in circumstances where drugs are not available. Then people cases of illness, voluntary work to repair houses of relatives resort to less benign practices, such as stealing or robbery, or in the construction of a Husseinye (a room for prayer to get access to drugs. which is considered less sacred than a mosque). After two community members contracted tuberculosis, an impres- Can we find alternative economic practices sive amount of 30 million Toman (approx. $1700) had been of reciprocity and solidarity among people collected for their treatment (while 1.5 million Toman or on the margins in Tehran? $84 is considered a good salary). Child care is periodically (usually in the summer when women work as agricultural Just as proponents of Post-Development such as Esteva labourers in other areas of Tehran) provided by neighbour- (1985) claim, we do find economic practices of reciprocity ing families, and so is help for illiterates by more educated and solidarity among the marginalised communities in Teh- community members, also concerning practical matters like ran, constituting what he has described as ‘new commons’, finding the way or talking to a doctor. Again, the religious a sense of community, cooperation and collective owner- site serves as commons of the community. Here, too, we can ship and responsibility (mostly related to religious sites). find a closely knit social web among the people, containing However, this finding has to be qualified in several respects. many practices not compatible with the idea of homo oeco- First, the economic practices of reciprocity and solidarity nomicus. However, again, practices of solidarity are usu- (e.g., non-market finance, such as interest-free loans or ally confined to one’s own local community. This may also donations) aim at limited redistribution of material goods be the result of the discrimination they face as Afghans in but not at equality; sometimes they are part of patron–client Iran. One informant from a different community explicitly relationships and reproduce hierarchies in status regarding criticised our intermediary for also supporting a school for material affluence or education. Second, the practices of Afghan children, reminding him that he should first help reciprocity and solidarity are usually limited to one’s own ‘his own people’. village, ethnic and/or religious group and are compatible with a lack of solidarity towards members of other groups. Practices of reciprocity and solidarity among drug Among the first two groups, these practices are seen as in addicts of Seyyed Shapour line with cultural traditions. Third, among the drug-users, who are outcasts from their own families and ethnic and reli- The third community is not based on ethnic origin, but gious groups, practices of reciprocity and solidarity extend on the common habit of drug addiction and partly also on to all members of the social group beyond ethnic and reli- the common activity of drug dealing. The drug addicts of gious borders. Fourth, in this social group, which is the most Seyyed Shapour live in sheds (‘Alonak’) which they have marginalised one, the practices of reciprocity and solidar- built themselves. These are located behind the stadium of ity go deeper than in other groups, amounting at times to a Shahid Kazemi, in the vicinity of a garbage dump. The exist- joint/common economy (e.g., non-market transactions such ence of the individuals in this group is strongly characterised as sharing or alternative property such as common funds). by social exclusion from their families (see also Tohidi et al. However, it must be said, that this is highly conditional on 2018). While the houses in Nasimshar are formalized today access to drugs for the respective community members and and those of the Afghan community are semi-informal (brick their solidarity is, therefore, much more fragile than in the houses with electricity and gas but not running water), the other cases. settlements of Seyyed Shapour are entirely informal. The As for the concept of ‘development’ prevalent among hangout at the back of the stadium has no electricity, and the community members, there is often a low level of lit- people use candles and fire to illuminate it. Shelters have no eracy and education and no conscious or explicit concept gas or water, and there is only one water pipe about 150 m to be found. However, there were certainly ideas of what away. People living here have usually been cast out from ‘improvement’ or a ‘good life’ could look like. As a rule, their communities due to drug addiction (mostly ‘Shishe’: the marginalised we spoke to were seeking to find suitable crystal meth). On some days, food is provided through chari- employment and income, to provide education for their ties. Almost no one possesses an identity card. The rate of children, and to be able to afford insurance and retirement. literacy and the occurrence of high school degrees is higher Therefore, their desires did not seem to diverge significantly than in the other two communities. People earn money by from a mainstream model of ‘development’. selling drugs, collecting and selling waste, and stealing. Practices of reciprocity and solidarity are common: food, 1 3 1230 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1970s forcing Haiti to reduce tariffs on American imports, in (Un‑)tying the knot of colonialism particular highly subsidized US rice, and not least, tied aid in Haiti: solidarity as strategy for survival programmes and neoliberal foreign investment projects, such and alternatives to interventionist as the Caracol industrial park. Haitian voices in the Interim and modernist models of ‘development’ Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC) tasked with coordinat- as progress and growth ing reconstruction efforts after the 2010 earthquake were systematically side-lined. The narrative that has been con- In the third case study, we look at two forms of Haitian peas- structed around Haiti is that of a helpless disaster-stricken ant organisations as possible living ‘alternatives’ and forms country in utter need of external intervention to be ‘lifted’ of resistance to the interventions of ‘development’: First, out of poverty and misery and achieve progress and mod- rural community groups, gwoupman peyizan, and second, ernization (Maurer and Pollmeier 2020). national peasant networks. Following Escobar’s call to look At the same time, the long tradition of collective organi- for ‘alternative practices in the resistance [of] grassroots sation, social action, solidarity and resistance that appears groups,’ (Escobar 1995: 222) the organising of marginalised in a variety of forms both in the countryside (Bell 2013; peasant communities, their resistance to capitalist ‘develop- Smith 2001) as well as in urban areas such as the capital ment’ logics and their alternative conceptions of the ‘econ- Port-au-Prince (Schuller 2012) continues to exist. The spirit omy (solidarity and reciprocity instead of homo oeconomi- of mawonaj, as important emancipatory force of the Hai- cus and the world market), of politics (direct democracy tian Revolution, and seen as the historical root of Haitian instead of centralized authorities) and of knowledge (tradi- communal action, continues to provide the basis for collec- tional knowledge systems instead of modern science)’ (Ziai tive organisation. While local peasant groups do not refer 2007: 5) seem an especially apt entry point for exploration. explicitly to a theory of Post-Development, it is striking that Haitian history boasts one of the, if not the, most ground- they also do not use the term ‘development’ other than to breaking revolutions in global history: Haitians succeeded refer to the work of foreign INGOs and their project-led in overthrowing slavery, making Haiti the world’s first inde - interventions. We, therefore, argue that a practice of Post- pendent Black republic. The slave uprising of 1791 resulted Development in Haiti, even if it may not be named as such, in the Haitian Revolution and finally the declaration of the can be understood as resistance towards domination and vio- Repiblik Ayiti in 1804. In the years preceding the revolt, lence exerted in the name of progress (Nandy 1992). The groups of slaves, marroons, had repeatedly fled plantations following observations were made on several visits to Haiti to found autonomous settlements and social communities in between 2012 and 2017. One of the authors was able to the mountains to evade exploitation, organise resistance and spend time living in one of the communities and participat- claim liberty. This practice of mawonaj (marronage) is seen ing in various forms of gathering and community organising. as having laid the ‘groundwork for an uprising that united In an effort to give back, she engaged in prolonged consul- slaves across plantations and in doing so enabled them to tational exchanges with an INGO actor, which, as a result, smash the system from within’ (Dubois 2005: 55). Despite adapted their mode of intervening in the community from the Haitian Revolution remaining conspicuously absent from a project-based to a solidarity-led engagement (Schöneberg European history books, it is, in the words of Aimé Césaire, 2021b). In the following, we outline peasant organizing as a symbol for ‘where the knot of colonialism was first tied, possible forms of prefigurative politics in a Post-Develop- and where it was first untied’ (Césaire 1981: 24). Since then, mental sense that practice alternatives to interventionist and Haiti has experienced long periods of occupation, (US tol- modernist models of ‘development’ as progress and growth. erated) dictatorship and prolonged intervention by a wide array of ‘development’ actors, international organisations Peasant solidarity as strategy for survival and international NGOs. The country’s economy was crip- pled by the imposition of French reparation claims for the Haitian gwoupman peyizan, literally translated as small loss of its most prosperous colony right after independence, peasant groups, are rooted in a long tradition of solidarity but also by agricultural policies imposed by the US in the and social organising and are plentiful across the country. Groups range from small collectives in remote rural villages, to highly structured organisations covering whole communi- ‘Peasant’ is mostly considered a derogatory term. According to ties, some of which uphold close relations to international Bryceson the term ‘peasant’ has been ‘largely associated with a way non-governmental organisations (INGOs) (Schöneberg of life and frame of mind counter to ‘modernization’ (Bryceson 2000: 1). Nevertheless, Haitian small farmers, tipeyizan, consciously and 2016). Some Haitian peasant organisations practice alter- politically self-identify as such. As Bell points out, it ‘accurately natives that are considered non-hegemonic. These appear in describes a socioeconomic position in an intact feudal society in a the spheres of (1) the economy, through credit and seed bank way that the descriptor ‘farmer’, which names only a profession, does systems independent from the state, (2) the social, through not’. (Bell 2013: 11). 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1231 an understanding of society and community shaped by reci- be reaching beyond assumptions made by global capital- procity, interrelatedness and mutual interdependence, (3) ism. However, in practice, it has become clear that while politics, through networks and committees based on radical the enacted solidarities are strong on the local level, they are democratic decision-making, and (4) knowledge, through too weak to prompt transformative change on a larger scale. story-telling, song and the practice of traditional medicinal knowledges. While these practices of solidarity and com- moning are survival strategies, in a Post-Developmental Discussion: alternatives to ‘development’ sense they are also acts of political resistance, grounded in in practice? a strong understanding of community and solidarity that is in opposition to the individualistic and self-centred doctrine We have claimed above that ‘alternatives to development’ of modernist progress. inevitably have many faces, just like the term ‘development’ At the same time, national movements, such as the Mouv- is always ambiguous and more than once has been identified man Peyizan Papaye (MPP), one of the largest associations as a container term, an empty signifier devoid of any mean- with its network spanning nationally and internationally, ing and vulnerable to becoming co-opted for and filled with seek to build national and transnational alliances. In their dominant, euro-hegemonic political discourses and agendas. own words, MPP seeks to ‘gather all the poor peasants […] The discussion concerned with food sovereignty and in all corners of Haiti in a major national movement to build practiced agroecology in the Southern Highlands illustrates a good life for all […] and for everyone to be free to think, a concrete Post-Development alternative in Tanzania, which act and speak.’ According to MPP founder Chavannes Jean- challenges the hegemonic ‘development’ paradigm. As a Baptiste, MPP activities include reforestation, disseminating development project, the SAGCOT corridor demonstrates practices of sustainable agriculture, connecting and network- the expansion of corporate agriculture in its neo-liberal ing with peasants around the country on soil conservation, variant that deepens capitalism and coloniality. In contrast, food sovereignty and the fight for land rights, while simul- the food sovereignty movement and practiced agroecology taneously organising marches and participating in protests by Tanzanian smallholders offer an alternative and non- globally, joining with other peasant organizations inside the hegemonic transformation of socioecological relationships, country and internationally defending the poor all over the while at times also catering for survival-oriented strategies. world. The transformative practices are characterized by grass- However, while it is easy to romanticize the functioning roots organizing and hybridization of localized and ances- of these structures that are to some extent self-reliant on the tral knowledges with agroecological practices that embody very local level, it also needs to be acknowledged that strug- some key aspects of what Escobar (1995: 215f) defines as gles oftentimes only serve to secure a, rather precarious, Post-Development practices. status quo and often fail at prompting profound processes The cases of marginalized communities in Tehran point of transformative change (Schöneberg 2016). In this sense, out how, even in the absence of social movements, alterna- the critique of ‘development’ defined as an ideology of the tives to the standard economic practices of capitalism can be West promising prosperity, as proposed by Rahnema (1997) found, practices based on reciprocity and solidarity which and others, is ambiguous. While peasant groupings certainly do not correspond to the homo oeconomicus. Just like Esteva contest structures of global capitalism that exclude them (1992) claims, we find ‘new commons’ at the margins that from participating successfully in global markets, their main, transcend the Western model and the attempts to replicate and in fact very justified concern, is to make ends meet— it. However, the ‘alternatives to development’ are usually something that collective organising on the local level just confined to one’s community, which is defined by origin, about serves to achieve, but nothing more. religion or drug use. This begs the question, whether these Thinking of Post-Development as a pluriverse with many alternatives merely constitute survival strategies or sow the faces, Haitian peasant organisations contribute to the mul- seeds for transforming societal relations. titude of resistance struggles in the realm of food and food The story from Haiti highlights peasant organising as a production. Gwoupman peyizan radically contest the state means for survival and the practice of alternatives in the through setting up semi-autonomous communities that are spheres of the economy, politics and community. This form practicing alternatives. In their struggles for food sover- of organising is traditionally rooted in resistance struggles eignty they enact resistance to a global, exploitative system to colonialism and coloniality, and repeatedly referenced that extracts labour and resources. To a certain extent this through oral traditions, such as song and proverbs. Similarly is transformative and non-hegemonic as structures seem to to the examples from Tanzania, Haitian peasant struggles highlight the alternatives practiced on a grassroots level, but also show their demands for participation in ‘development’ and transformative, hybrid engagements between tradition Own translation: https:// www. mppha iti. org/ Objek tif- nou- yo. html 1 3 1232 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 and ‘development’ as a discourse of modernity (Escobar grassroots alternatives that are interwoven by a solidarity for 1995: 219). survival needs and a political solidarity towards alternatives, The Iranian case differs from the Tanzanian and Haitian both in societal as well as economic spheres. Across all three case, because there is no organised civil society resistance alternatives, the shared stewardship of the commons and and/or NGO action. The commonality across the three exam- communal relations play a significant role. These alternative ples is that the communities exist beyond the realms and embodied social relations are rooted in all three examples in institutions of the state. The practices of reciprocity and soli- the rejection of an economic logic perpetuating capitalism darity in all three Teheran communities can be interpreted through ‘development’ and, to varying degrees, in more- as survival strategies insofar as mutual help is much more than-capitalist spaces, ‘operating within, outside and along- necessary to ensure reproduction for the marginalised com- side capitalism in a more nuanced view’ (Naylor 2022). munities. However, in contrast to what Schuurman (1993) As the cases from Tanzania and Haiti outline in particu- and Corbridge (1998) seem to imply, this finding does not lar, the production of food, access to seeds and marketization contradict the arguments from a Post-Development perspec- of produce is ultimately political. For that reason, peasant tive. Economic practices may be motivated by more than a struggles seem an especially apt entry point for the wider single purpose. Strategies which effectively promote collec- discussion on non-hegemonic alternatives. As Lang asserts, tive survival can simultaneously be motivated by solidarity ‘food is both a symptom and a symbol of how we organize with members of one’s own ‘imagined community’ (Ander- ourselves and our societies. It is both a vignette and a micro- son 1987)—no matter whether this community is based on cosm of wider social realities’ (1999: 218). In the struggle shared nationality, religion, addiction or humanity. Esteva for food sovereignty and food democracy the most funda- argued that practices beyond a narrow self-interest of ‘eco- mental questions as to how societies are structured seem nomic man’ or person had become ‘the very condition for to culminate. Food is ‘at the centre of all societies and its survival’ for people on the margins (1992: 17). Yet the ‘new dynamics reflect pressures by different actors (producers, commons’ and ‘alternatives to development’ can also arise consumers, politicians, investors, traders, and others)’ (Wald from necessity—why should a survival strategy not be the 2015: 109). embryonic form of a new society? The alternatives sketched in the cases above and many About 25 years ago, Escobar (1995) proclaimed that truly other Post-Development writings are by no means com- just alternatives can only come from the grassroots, or the prehensive, nor unambiguous. In fact, these, among many local, the communities. This may be right to some extent, other examples of alternatives ‘hardly denote a monolithic, yet realising that grassroots alternatives do not exist in a homogenous group of subjects empty of friction’ (Akbulut vacuum, but in a system of globalised, neoliberal capitalism et al. 2022, this Special Feature). Nevertheless, they illus- makes it hard to imagine how these alternatives can claim trate the need and the options for alternatives to destabi- their just and legitimate spaces. Matthews (2018) reminds us lize the hegemonic model, that is to say in opposition to that there are no spaces where no power exists. Any kind of ‘currently dominant processes of development, including imagination of alternatives to development must resist fram- its structural roots in modernity, capitalism, state domina- ing these possible alternatives as a pure and untainted way of tion, patriarchy’ (Demaria and Kothari 2022: 140). What life. In this context, it has to be acknowledged that some of they have in common is that their practicing of solidarity the alternative actors such as MVIWATA are in fact funded for survival and working for alternatives is not an either/ by progressive parts of the development apparatus and the or question. What they underline is the need for a move- opposition between ‘alternative development’ and ‘alterna- ment of (intellectual) work and practice combining post- and tives to development’ is not as clear-cut as some make it out decolonial critiques of a neocolonial capitalist world system, to be—so maybe progressive politics could bridge the divide and its asymmetric power divides, similarly and simulta- (Ziai 2015). It seems that truly transformative alternatives neously on local, regional, national and global levels. This to the many faces of ‘development’ need to be thought and transformative practice must take place in the global North practiced both on the levels of local and transnational soli- and South likewise. As Gustavo Esteva has poignantly for- darity networks at the same time. mulated: ‘There is no one alternative to one bad system. The three case studies from Tanzania, Iran, and Haiti Therefore, we ally to fight this system and at the same time converge on the Post-Development theme of localized and create our own, different worlds in opposition to it. In addi- tion, these worlds—they are different but connected, united but distinct. […]. One no, and many yeses’ (emphasis added, as quoted in Kingsnorth 2004: 44). For example, the debate initiated by the Emancipatory Rural Poli- tics Initiative on rural authoritarian populism demonstrates the highly Acknowledgements We want to acknowledge the major contribu- problematic aspects of authoritarian local and grassroots movement tions of all people in Tanzania, Iran and Haiti, who have so generously (see Scoones et al. 2017). 1 3 Sustainability Science (2022) 17:1223–1234 1233 shared time, thoughts and struggles with us. In addittion, we grate- Demaria F and Kothari A (2022) The Post-Development agenda. Paths fully acknowledge the support of Mehrdad Tohidi, Reyhane Saremi to a pluriverse of convivial futures. In: Adloff F and Caillé A and Hamidavar Zamani in conducting the empirical research in Iran. (eds) Convivial futures. Views from a Post-Growth Tomorrow. Last, but not least we thank the anonymous reviewers for their critical transcript and constructive comments. Dubois L (2005) Avengers of the new world. Harvard University Press Escobar A (1995) Encountering development. The making and unmak- ing of the third world. Princeton University Press, Princeton Funding Open Access funding enabled and organized by Escobar A (2012) Encountering development. The making and unmak- Projekt DEAL. This research was supported by Deutsche ing of the third world, 2nd edn. Princeton University Press, Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG). Princeton Escobar A (2015) Degrowth, postdevelopment, and transitions: a pre- Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attri- liminary conversation. 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Sustainability ScienceSpringer Journals

Published: Jul 1, 2022

Keywords: Post-Development; Alternatives; Solidarity; Commons; Transformation

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