August 31, 2010
Researching Religions and Development: A UK Project for Comparative Research on Religion, Politics and Governance
In her August 31 lecture, Carole Rakodi outlined the findings from a five-year collaborative research project funded by the UK Department for International Development (DIFD), which is now reaching its conclusion. The research program was launched to help fill knowledge gaps on the links between religion and development, and was designed to fully engage partners in four countries where the UK supports important development programs: Pakistan, India, Nigeria, and Tanzania. The multidisciplinary research program has produced a wide range of working papers and policy briefs, and a series of books will be completed.
The project examined a number of interactions of religion and development, including: the relationship between religion, politics and governance; participation by religious organizations in policy consultation processes; and the engagement with religion of women's organizations campaigning for progressive legal change.
In addition to describing the broad findings of the program, Rakodi discussed the conceptual and methodological issues encountered over the course of the project. These included the challenges of undertaking such an interdisciplinary, international comparative study without an existing conceptual framework. She also spoke of the gap between social science methodology and the expectations of practical use within the policy world, and described the project's research as "policy relevant" but not immediately "policy operational," highlighting some of the tensions that can arise as a result of varying expectations. She concluded that the field is heavily under researched, with a large remaining agenda of significant issues and challenges to be explored.
Additional information about the Religions and Development Program can be found at http://www.rad.bham.ac.uk/index.php?section=1
Carole Rakodi's Powerpoint presentation is accessible here
Carole Rakodi was a Professor in the International Development Department, School of Government and Society, University of Birmingham, England from 2002 to 2010 and is now Emeritus Professor. She has undertaken consultancy work for multilateral and bilateral agencies (including DFID and the World Bank) in a number of countries, including Zambia, Tanzania, and South Africa. Her research interests are primarily in urbanization and urban policy, including land, housing, livelihoods and urban management, mainly in Africa, and especially Zambia and Zimbabwe. She has published widely in her field. From 2005 - 2011, she was Director of the DFID-funded research program on Religions and Development, coordinating a team of over a hundred researchers in the University of Birmingham, three other universities in the UK, and partner institutions in India, Pakistan, Nigeria and Tanzania.