Back to the Future? Charting Features of the Not-So-New Convergence in Aidland
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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During the last decade, the liberal paradigm, hegemonic in development assistance from the 1980 and well into the 2000s, has seen a fracturing. Rather than an impasse or outright conflict between ‘aid with Chinese characteristics’ and that of traditional donors, we might now be witnessing an evolving convergence. Through a concise review of China’s aid –its modalities, motives, substance, underlying conceptions of development, and morals – I extrapolate the following key features across the Chinese approach: Collateralization of development finance; neo-mercantilism; a preference for aid to tangibles; a deep-seated ‘growthmentality’; and a non-moralizing politics. I then take these features as referents for charting possible convergence in a case study of recent shifts in the development assistance of Norway – a hitherto ardent advocate for liberalist thinking and practices in aidland. In ways of thinking and acting, there seem to be some clear commonalities emerging. Convergence around said referents may owe much to the fact that these are not so novel – they exhume much of that which is associated with the modernization paradigm, which traditional donors now seem to re-discover as both feasible and desirable templates for aid.