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Ripe for reckoning? White saviourism in international development

Time (GMT +01) 17:30 19:00
Image credit:Colston statue Bristol 2020. Ian Luck / Shutterstock.com
This event has finished, watch or listen to the playback below.


Running order

00:00 Sara Pantuliano (ODI) – Introduction

07:06 Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou (ODI) – Opening remarks and observations

13:56 Themrise Khan – what inspired her work and what she and co-authors understand by white saviourism: how it applies to her book and the international sector

22:51 Robtel Neajai Pailey (LSE) – how her concept of the white gaze compares to Themrise’s concept of white saviourism

31:37 Themrise Khan – do white saviours with good intentions get a pass, and what would a more radical approach look like?

37:31 Themrise Khan – are there continuities within the international development space of colonial ideas?

39:37 Robtel Neajai Pailey – following up on Themrise’s points: colonialism is still very prevalent in many areas of life

43:47 All participants – Q&A session

59:57 Kathryn Nwajiyaku-Dahou, Themrise Khan, and Robtel Neajai Pailey – Closing remarks

About the event

What are the enduring legacies of colonialism and how do they contribute to the persistence of white saviourism in international development today?

This ODI Public Dialogue will bring a high-profile in-person conversation to our London office with co-editor Themrise Khan to mark the release of a new book: White Saviorism in International Development: Theories, Practices and Lived Experiences. Join us to unpack the intimate and ongoing relationship between international development and coloniality, and ideas of whiteness and race as raised in the book.

As a project and set of ideas, with its own norms and practices, international development remains under intense scrutiny. Global geo-political realignments, coupled with a reckoning around race and racism since the murder of George Floyd in 2020, have brought to the fore a renewed need to grapple with the persistence of inequality and white saviourism in the sector. What would it take to finally do away with it altogether?

Joined by some of the UK's most thoughtful voices on decolonisation and racial justice, ODI will bring to light different perspectives on how white saviourism manifests and what alternatives could structure the international development space instead.

This event will also facilitate a closed-door space for in-person audience members to engage in dialogue with invited speakers, aiming to tease out whether and how it might be possible to re-imagine international cooperation based on alternative ideas, practices and principles.


  • ODI Panel _ Allyship to action _11_Sara P Convening - Copy

    Sara Pantuliano

    Chief Executive, ODI

  • Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou.jpg

    Kathryn Nwajiaku-Dahou

    Director of Politcs and Governance, ODI

  • Robtel headshot (002)

    Robtel Neajai Pailey

    Assistant Professor, Department of Social Policy, London School of Economics & Political Science, UK

  • Themrise Khan High Res

    Themrise Khan

    Co-editor and independent development professional, Pakistan