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Critical Hope Lecture 2019 - Dr. Farhana Sultana

Promoting Change in a Challenging World’. This campus-wide event brings in speakers who straddle the world of activism and scholarship and it is hoped that the lecture will serve as a motivational tool for all those seeking to promote social justice causes in Canada and around the world – students, faculty, and community members - as well as a stimulus for sober, critical and self-critical reflection.

Title of the Lecture: 

Decolonizing Development and the Pursuit of Social Justice


What would decolonizing development look like? What are the goals? Who is responsible for doing this? Where will it happen? What about structural and institutional powers? How can social justice be pursued? These are difficult but pressing questions. These questions are among many other questions that require critical engagements with development in theory and practice as well as self-reflexivity among scholars and practitioners interested in the developing world. Addressing these questions also necessitates critical engagement with different bodies of scholarship, methodologies and epistemologies, as well as cultivating solidarities with marginalized peoples and institutions. Ultimately it requires that we collectively ask and answer difficult questions while also envisioning equitable and emancipatory transformations and addressing possibilities and pitfalls along the way. In this talk, I explore such concerns and discuss my own experiences and praxis. I believe it is possible to balance a life of critical thinking with action in the pursuit of decolonizing development and promoting global social justice in a challenging world.

About the speaker:

The speaker for the lecture is Dr. Farhana Sultana. An internationally-recognized interdisciplinary scholar, Dr. Sultana is interested in nature-society relationships, critical development studies, feminist theories, climate change, water governance, social justice, human rights, citizenship, and South Asia. Since 2008, Dr. Sultana has taught as an Associate Professor in the Department of Geography at the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs of Syracuse University. Before becoming an academic, Dr. Sultana was a Programme Officer at the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) for a $26M large environment-development program in Bangladesh, between 1998-2001. She states that her work is informed not only by her background and training in the natural sciences, social sciences, and policy experience but also from her experience of having lived and worked on three continents. Her positionality of being a post-colonial subject and scholar, and having a lifelong commitment to critical praxis and social justice also strongly informs her work. We look forward to seeing you at the lecture!