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South-South cooperation and the re-politicization of development in health

de Moraes Achcar, Helena (2022) South-South cooperation and the re-politicization of development in health. World Development, 149. ISSN 0305-750X

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Identification Number: 10.1016/j.worlddev.2021.105679


Brazil's South-South cooperation (SSC) has been accused of using a depoliticizing language of similarity and horizontality that hid structural asymmetries between very divergent realities. Focusing on a SSC project in health between Brazil and Mozambique, the Mozambican Pharmaceutical Ltd. (SMM), this article seeks to understand whether SSC can in fact re-politicize development. Drawing on a poststructuralist approach to discourse, I see re-politicization as challenging views of development in line with foreign aid (privatization in this context) and the enactment of initiatives in line with SSC principles (state-ownership). I explore the political negotiations and conflict around the implementation of the SMM and argue that while initially the language of horizontality masked structural differences between Brazil and Mozambique, it was later mobilized to challenge Mozambique's desire to privatize the SMM. A compromise between stakeholders allowed the SMM to be majority state-owned, in what I say represented some degree of structural transformation. My analysis shows that development principles are neither universal (a criticism long addressed at foreign aid) nor do they have a single effect. The implementation of SSC projects that aim to effect structural transformation on highly divergent contexts will be subject to contestation, negotiation and accommodation by stakeholders, and the strategic employment of principles. The article suggests that SSC would require a more frequent engagement between partners so that SSC norms become naturalized. More broadly, it echoes part of the SSC literature that calls for a focus on development encounters, political dynamics and local constructions of reality rather than generic policy statements or principles.

Item Type: Article
Official URL:
Additional Information: © 2021 Elsevier Ltd
Divisions: LSE Health
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
R Medicine > RA Public aspects of medicine
J Political Science > JL Political institutions (America except United States)
Date Deposited: 20 Sep 2021 09:45
Last Modified: 19 Jul 2024 20:24

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