What can poverty researchers in the UK learn from the South and vice versa?

[Sorry the comments button was switched off on Tuesday’s post on the Economist food report. That’s now been sorted so if you were a frustrated commenter, feel free to unburden yourself……]

The best ideas often come from bringing groups of thinkers together from disciplines that normally have nothing to do with each other. The Santa Fe Institute is perhaps the best-known example of this. Sadly, disciplinary siloes are alive and well in much of academia, with some notable exceptions such as the Oxford Martin School. IDS and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation are trying to run an exercise along these lines, cross fertilizing between work on poverty and exclusion in the UK and in developing countries. Oxfam set up its UK Poverty Programme in 1996 precisely to explore these kinds of synergies.

A seminar in November (report here) discussed the degrees of overlap between poverty-related thinking in ‘North’ and ‘South’, and found it to be expanding rapidly (migration, food prices, financial crashes, climate change, gender justice etc etc), yet another demonstration that the distinction between North and South is becoming increasingly artificial, and a block to creative thinking. It produced this useful table on what areas of cross-learning look most promising (sorry some of the borders of the table have gone missing – no idea why). [h/t Kate Wareing]

UK-DC crossovers, IDS-JRFany additions?

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3 Responses to “What can poverty researchers in the UK learn from the South and vice versa?”
  1. Cynan

    Well social protection / safety nets / cash transfers is perhaps a key area already demonstrating the convergence? Lots of room to grow though in the international arena.

  2. Jonathan Glennie

    I really agree with this point Duncan. We Brits tend to like to tell other countries how to manage their affairs but there are far too few examples of us going to other countries, including poor countries, to learn from them… Jonathan

  3. foursqare

    I recently re-read AS Byatt’s The Children’s Book and was struck by the parallels between the early 1900s and the conversations we’re having today. I’m also thinking all this stuff through at the moment and getting a well-researched literary glimpse into a previous era where some of the same ideas were circulating was a moment of literary serendipity. The story of British poverty and attempts to ‘solve’ it are part of the texture of her wonderful novel. I think we have the same sense of irreversible social change now — climate, China’s increasing world power, a new feeling of resistance to globalised capitalist excesses. I just hope that this time we doesn’t end up with a war.

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