Over the past decade, there has been a significant increase in the number of collaborative projects between South Korea and various countries in Africa, especially in the area of development cooperation. Both South Korean and African partners have stressed the perceived "win-win" nature of these new collaborative relations. Both sides have emphasized that the interactions are not merely focused on one-sided economic interests, such as raw material trade and investment, but rather that these interactions appear to represent a model for a more holistic relationship which also includes exchanges in the fields of culture and education. On the one hand the possibility of exporting its own development experiences is understood as an opportunity for South Korea to reposition itself as a player within the international community. On the other hand, the African partners have equally welcomed such new forms of cooperation as evidenced by the various “Looking East”-Policies that have been adopted in a significant number of countries across the African continent in recent years. Within this context, South Korea represents a particularly interesting development partner for these countries due to its recent development history that led to exceptionally fast economic growth and compressed modernization in the second part of the twentieth century. Moreover, the shared experiences of a colonial past as well as the acute socio economic deprivation may also be opening new avenues for cooperation between South Korea and (some) of its African partners.
Within this context, the research project seeks to analyze emerging discourses and corresponding processes of negotiation in relation to concepts and practices of development in South Korea and two of its focus countries in Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya. This research investigates how emerging developmental concepts and goals and the resulting social (and national identity) dynamics are being formed in the context of development cooperation. Special focus lies on corresponding processes in the areas of culture and education.
This project will contribute to the on-going debate surrounding various concepts and models for development as well as their implementation in the form of policies and programs. Through its interdisciplinary approach (political science and cultural studies) and comparative research design spanning two continents, the project will provide new methodological and theoretical insights into the transnational process of negotiating development.