RC09 Newsletter 2020: Call for content!

cabecera rc09 special issue

For this Special Issue we invite you to write a brief (about 300-500 words) pandemic ‘diary’:

  • How did your teaching, research and life change during these turbulent times?
  • What are your thoughts about the prospects of online teaching and home office?
  • What are your reflections on the functioning of society and its institutions in your countries during the pandemic?

Share your short pandemic diaries with us, so that we can collect them in this Special Issue and bring closer the situation of academics across the globe.

Also, we invite you to send us information about your new publications, grants, awards, past and upcoming conferences, seminars and workshops.

We are also eager to publish your book reviews and interviews with scholars from the field of social transformations and sociology of development.

The deadline to send your content is Monday, June 15, 2020, to rc09editors@gmail.com.

We look forward to your contributions!

Ilona Wysmulek and
Almendra Orbegoso
on behalf of the RC09 Editorial Team

You may follow us on the RC09 Twitter and Facebook

Covid-19 and Africa

Written by Ulrike Schuerkens.

Let’s say: I’m not a doctor, but a university professor who is also interested in the socio-anthropology of health. I have been observing for weeks the development of COVID-19 around the world and particularly in Africa where the ManaGlobal project that I coordinate is taking place.

What I have noticed are border closures in the South and North which have prevented a certain number of contaminations triggered by travelers, especially in the countries of the South. Rapid political reactions in Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana and Morocco (where the ManaGlobal project is taking place), which I believe have largely prevented the spread of the disease. The treatments adopted, influenced by the proposals of the university professor and director of the Institut Hospitalo-Universitaire Méditerranée Infection in Marseille, Didier Raoult, have helped to keep the number of deaths relatively low compared to the many deaths in Western countries. Senegal and also Morocco have adopted the protocol suggested by this controversial doctor in France where his treatment is only allowed for serious cases in hospitals. These serious cases show in the West certain common characteristics: advanced age beyond 65 years or even more, co-morbidities such as obesity, diabetes, cardiovascular problems etc.

However, the populations in the four countries where the ManaGlobal project is taking place are characterized by their youth and thus often healthier – despite poverty – than the serious cases in the West with high morbidity rates. The research found that children and adolescents are affected by relatively few cases of COVID 19 or – in case of contamination – they develop benign forms. Can it be concluded that the pandemic will instead have severe effects and high mortality rates in Western countries with different consumption patterns from those in the South and organisms exposed to very different food? The health effects of the pandemic in the South should certainly not be underestimated but the exposure to other pandemics such as malaria appears to protect African populations. Moreover, it seems to me that the limited rate of COVID-19 cases in China – although they are certainly underestimated for political reasons – gives a small glimmer of hope for the health consequences in the South, at least in Africa. The good choices made by doctors in several African countries in the face of the pandemic are compounded by the fact that the drugs proposed by Professor D. Raoult can be administered without the side effects expected in severely affected elderly patients in the West. Moreover, these are the medicines available in Africa (Sanofi Maroc) and known to the populations.

There remain the socio-economic consequences in countries characterized by populations often working in precarious and informal conditions. International and regional solidarity is beginning to be activated in the face of this situation, which exposes populations to famine and subsequently to hunger revolts that will not be long in coming if governments do not react. Confinement has not been applied in Cameroon but in Morocco; in Senegal, a curfew reigns at night in the face of populations who work during the day to meet their immediate needs. Wearing masks has been demanded in Cameroon, Morocco and Senegal and is being suggested in Ghana.

In conclusion, I would say that there is hope in the face of the health consequences of the pandemic in the countries of the South, at least in Africa. The socio-economic consequences are likely to be enormous in the face of countries of the North whose economies are at a standstill and whose importance for the socio-economic systems of African countries is well known.

ISA Forum in Brazil POSTPONED until Feb 2021

ISA Executive Committee decided to postpone the IV ISA Forum of Sociology until February 23-27, 2021. Registration deadline for presenters has been extended to December 15, 2020.

Message from the ISA President Prof. Sari Hanafi:

We cannot stress enough that you are all in our thoughts in this extraordinary period – across so many domains of crisis. Please stay safe and care for your families and friends so that we all make it through in good health and strong of spirit.

Sari Hanafi
President, International Sociological Association
Professor of Sociology, American University of Beirut



RC09 Newsletter: NEW ISSUE is out!

The NEW RC09 Newsletter issue N° 02-2019/2020 is freshly published!

We sincerely thank everyone who contributed to this issue!

“This Newsletter testifies for the large variety of interests of the members of the RC on Social Transformations and the Sociology of Development.
You can find new publications on health care access and global health; inequality and social differentiation in Africa; ethnicity and social movements; management in Africa and the Arab world; digital transformations and big data; democratization; and austerity.
Moreover, information is given on the Global Center of Spatial Methods for Urban Sustainability in Berlin, Germany. A new project Transformative Education for Climate Action is described as well as some short information is included on two PhD projects at the University of Rennes 2, France.
After the session update of the Brazil Forum, a description of a mini conference on “Decolonizing Development: Theories, Methods and Research” in Amsterdam in July 2020 is made.
At the end of the Newsletter, you can find an overview of Sam Cohn’s new website and twitter account on development issues.”
From Remarks of the RC09 Co-Chairs: Ulrike Schuerkens and Habibul Khondker

Call for Papers: International Workshop in Tbilisi

There is an open call for paper proposal to the international workshop “Institutional Transformations of Economy and Polity in Post-Communist States, 1990-2020 – Taking Stock, Looking Ahead“, which will be held in 15-19 June 2020 in Tbilisi State University, Georgia.

The workshop is co-organized by the Goethe University Frankfurt, Germany and Tbilisi State University, Georgia. It is funded by the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD), which covers travel and accommodation costs for all invited participants. 

Deadline for submission of abstracts (500 words):  15 March 2020. 

The workshop “Institutional Transformations of Economy and Polity in Post-Communist States, 1990-2020: Taking Stock, Looking Ahead” puts a particular emphasis on experiences and challenges in the South Caucasus, yet of course also Russia, Ukraine and other former Soviet states are to be discussed. The workshop is set to discuss both theoretical and empirical studies on the following topics:

• The institutional evolution of the varieties and types of post-communist economies and polities, involving their interdependent relationship.
• The marketization of post-communist economies, involving the role of rules, norms and values as well as social structures in the evolution of firms, industries, and markets.
• The democratization of post-communist polities, involving populist and authoritarian tendencies as well as the interplay of formal and informal governance mechanisms.

To explore these issues, the workshop draws on an interdisciplinary perspective on institutional analyses from all fields of the social sciences and beyond, involving sociology, political science, economics, business, history, anthropology, and geography, among others.

You can find more information about the workshop here.

A new RC09 challenge has begun!

This space is the opinion column for RC09 scholars and enthusiasts that have something to say about what is going on these days, analyzing our diverse societies through the development and social transformations lens.

Information technologies are growing faster as days go by and the RC09 Editorial Team is looking forward to building channels to make the best of it, motivating scholars to share their points of view in social media. This will contribute to having more sights from sociology on Twitter, Facebook and the web page of RC09, reaching more people around the globe.

We need you to make this column come true.  Fill this link to participate.

Let’s co-create this together!



Almendra, Ilona and Devparna.


Follow us on Twitter: https://twitter.com/RC09_ISA

Like us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rc09isa

Newsletter 2019-2: Send us your content!

The deadline is December 2!

RC09 Newsletter is a platform to publicize your research and training efforts, to share what you are doing and what you have done with the global community of scholars around the world.

Please send us:

– abstracts of your new publications;

– note about your new research grant or award;

– information about past and upcoming conferences that you (co)organize;

– your academic posters and infographics.


Looking forward to your contributions!

RC09 Social transformations and Sociology of development

Open call: the ATM Rennes 2020 event on Growth, Development and Inequalities

The Association Tiers-Monde (ATM) organizes the ATM Rennes 2020 event: the XXXVIth Day of Development of the Association Tiers-Monde “Growth, development and inequalities: An Increasingly Unequal Development?”, which will be held in the University Rennes 2 on 27-29 May, 2020.

Organizers propose seven diverse Workshops with various sub-themes, on:

A. International inequalities and growing differentiation of trajectories in Developing countries
B. Inequalities and internal divergences
C. Definitions, measures and dimensions of the inequalities
E. Inequalities and national economic policy
F. Inequalities and sustainable development policies
G. Inequalities, multilateral frameworks for aids and decentralized cooperation

The call for contributions – max. two page abstracts which may deal with theoretical, empirical or methodological aspects and can be written in French, English or Spanish – is open till October 6, 2019.

You may download the full list of the workshops, their sub-themes and application procedure here.

Immanuel Wallerstein: A Personal Tribute by Habibul Haque Khondker

IMG_6617I first saw (but did not dare to talk) Immanuel Wallerstein at the World Sociology Congress in New Delhi in 1986. That’s like more than three decades ago. I was sitting in a hotel lobby with my PhD supervisor John Markoff, who wrote a review of Wallerstein’s The Modern World System (vol 1). Markoff pointed Wallerstein to me. I have known Wallerstein’s name by reputation and read some of his works in the late 1970s while doing my Master at Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada where my thesis supervisor Don Whyte was a follower of Immanuel Wallerstein and Andre Gunder Frank. Wallerstein’s The Modern World System Vol 1. was published in 1974. Carleton, like many other Universities in North America in the late 70s, was dominated by the Dependency paradigm of Andre Gunder Frank, Samir Amin, Furtado, Cardoso and others. In my Master’s thesis I used aspects of the World System Theories. In the mid-1970s, Wallerstein was teaching at McGill after his tour of duty in West Africa and a teaching stint at Columbia University. Immanuel Wallerstein was not an arm-chair sociologist. He liked to be in the thick of things. During the days of students’ unrest in the late 1960s he was at Columbia University as a junior faculty member supporting the students’ activism. After earning his PhD from Columbia University in 1959, Wallerstein went to Africa to understand the impact of colonialism in Africa. His research output was a book on Ghana and Ivory Coast. Starting as an Africanist and having familiarized himself with deep historical research in the vein of his intellectual guru, Fernand Braudel, Wallerstein developed the world systems framework by building on the Dependency framework and recharging it with a critical reading of Marx. Wallerstein was bold in his observations. While Soviet Union was an avowed socialist state, he refused to accept the possibility of a socialist system within the entrenched world capitalist system. In his world-centric framework, dominated by the logic of capitalism, the existence of other systems was not possible. His prognosis was not short-term, he argued that since capitalism is a historical system, it will decline in the long term, as all historical systems met their demise. But when? He was not sure. And what would replace capitalist system, here too he was not sure that it would be socialism, one possibility is a system yet to be named.

In his world system framework, rather than looking at the nation states, he analyzed the world system as made up of three distinct zones: the core (the developed North), the semi-periphery (in-between, transitional countries) and the periphery, the Global South. The functioning of the world system sometimes creates opportunities for the countries to change their position. Countries once core, for example, Portugal in the 16th century, became semi-periphery, and semi-peripheral countries too can become core in course of time. This flexibility in the world system analysis was deemed more empirically valid. Yet, his analysis was deeply political economic with little space for culture for which he was criticized. Wallerstein brought historical sociology at the center stage earning the respect of professional historians for his scholarly historical analyses. He added a new dimension to the study of social change, rescuing it from ahistorical model building. He established a distinction between Marxism, a political dogma and Marxist scholarship as a critical intellectual weapon. He chose the latter and became its vociferous spokesperson.

I had a conversation with him at the Montreal World Sociology Congress in 1998. Earlier I corresponded with him from time to time. When I asked for his permission to translate some of his popular writings in Bengali, he gave me a hug saying “sure, you have my permission”. To my question, what a young sociologist must do, he said: “read widely and learn languages”. Wallerstein’s magnum opus The Modern World System (in four volumes) has literally thousands of references and footnotes in all major European languages! During my sabbatical leave at Cornell University, in 2002 I also included Binghamton University where he headed the Fernand Braudel Center where I was given an office. I would drive to Binghamton once a week from Cornell to meet him and attend the weekly seminar. His historical knowledge was astounding. I mentioned to him that I wrote a paper in 1987 titled: The World According to Wallerstein, he immediately asked for a copy. I contacted National University of Singapore’s Sociology, my home base at that time, to mail a copy to him. In fact, he sent me several of his papers (published and unpublished) when I was writing that paper in Singapore, which was published as a Working Paper. Wallerstein’s contributions were not limited to historical sociology, he wrote important papers on global politics and international relations. His fortnightly commentaries were incisive and reflected his deep understanding of the global processes. In one of my conversations on the Middle East politics in late 2002, I asked him if Saddam Hussein steps down, will the US invade Iraq? To which, he replied: “Even if Saddam commits suicide on live TV, the US would still invade”. Barely a couple of months later, using the pretext of “weapons of mass destruction” the US forces marched into Iraq as bombs rained in illuminating the sky of Baghdad.

I met him again in Durban at the World Sociology Congress in 2006 where he teamed up in a panel with Samir Amin and Giovanni Arrighi where I asked the panel, almost in exasperation, what should be the position of an unrepentant Marxist scholar in a neo-liberal world where socialism is disappearing or, at best, moribund. The gist of their answer is not to give up hope in the struggle of the working people.

My last meeting with Wallerstein was in Yokohama, Japan in 2014 at the World Sociology Congress, where we chatted for a while and posed for a photograph (snapped by a Japanese sociologist). Wallerstein was once the President of the International Sociological Association where he started a trend of writing a Presidential letter to fellow sociologists. His work on the rise, spread, and possible demise of the capitalist world systems will remain an inspiration to the scholars in historical social sciences. Wallerstein was conscious of the limitations of the “really existing” social sciences living in splendid isolation. He proposed an uni-disciplinary approach that he called historical social science. Had there been a Nobel prize in sociology, he would have been a laureate. A scholar extraordinaire, a public intellectual, and a humane person, Wallerstein will be sorely missed by his colleagues, friends, and students. He was the teacher of an entire generation, a paradigm-builder and an optimist.

Immanuel Wallerstein passed away 28 days shy of his 89th birthday on August 31, 2019. As a global public intellectual, he started writing his commentaries in 1998 and wanted to continue until it reaches the 500th issue, which was published on July 1 2019. In that issue, he wrote: “No one lives forever.” Wallerstein titled the last issue: “This is the end; this is the beginning”. For those whose sociological imaginations were rekindled by his contribution must carry on the torch of knowledge for the emancipation of humanity.