Presentation Details

The Second International Conference on New Directions in the Humanities

Claiming Development Studies for the Humanities: Development as Freedom

Prof. Joseph Tharamangalam.

"Development Studies" has traditionally belonged to the "dismal" science of Economics which saw development mainly in terms of GDP growth. However, in recent years there has been an increasing emphasis on the human face of development. Drawing on the pioneering efforts of the economist Mahboob ul Haq, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has redefined both the measurement and the goal of development and has, since 1990, brought out annual reports on "Human Development". Scholars such as the Nobel economist Amratya Sen have argued and demonstrated with case studies that many poor countries can and have achieved basic security and well-being for their people with low GDP and without waiting for the trickling down effects of GDP growth. Indeed, in a well known recent book Sen has advanced the idea of development as freedom that enhances both capabilities and choices for people. He has also argued, as have theorists of "social/human capital" that Human Development also has an instrumental value in triggering GDP growth. This paper will draw on these approaches to the study of development to argue that the discipline of Development Studies must now have an important "Humanities" dimension. It will also draw on the author’s previous work on one of the best known instances of relatively high human development with low GDP growth, Kerala in south India ("the Kerala Model of Development") to make this case.


Prof. Joseph Tharamangalam  (Canada)
Department of Sociology and Anthropology
Mount St. Vincent University

  • Development Studies
  • GDP Growth
  • Humanities

(60 min. Workshop, English)