This argues that the disruptions and shifts in development contexts of the 21st century are substantial enough to require a reimagining of disciplinary referents, signifiers, and orientations while supporting activities that (re)insert deeply contextual and practical knowledge to reframe the discourse and the practice of development.

Key Messages

COVID-19 has significantly disrupted development "norms" It has created space for a more critical dialogue on the unsuitability of current development approaches to coping with such uncertainty. While a commitment to rethinking our development models have emerged, Dr Varughese reminds us that eurocentrism continues to dominate development structures globally.

As he writes, "Tied to expert knowledge and rooted in the political economy of aid flows, everyday issues around security, governance, livelihoods, and economic growth have been framed and interpreted through Western worldviews based on industrial development as well as science and technology-led development, even when development practice is now purportedly locally-led, participatory, and inclusive."

Reinserting practical and locally-led knowledge are an important recognition that knowledge exists beyond Eurocentric models of development and opposes a norm that prioritises the interests of donor-led development:

"The ebb and flow of discourse, design, delivery of development has mostly reflected the preferences and interests of those who fund development."

This paper also argues that a reconnection to context is important to the reimagining agenda. COVID-19 has reminded us that investing in local methods and capacity to deal with disruptions is important, as is a recognition of a cycle of rebuilding. In addition to focussing on localisation and local knowledge and an appropriate appraisal of context, the diagram below illustrates how the reimagining agenda might fit together.