Uncovering Contradictions Between Human Desires, Behaviour: 2019 David Morrison Lecture

October 10, 2019

Visiting Professor Dr. Ilan Kapoor delivers “thought-provoking” talk for annual International Development lecture

Group Photo: The 12th annual David Morrison Lecture in International Development delivered on Thursday by Dr. Ilan Kapoor, a Critical Development Studies professor at York University

Development studies is rife with contradictions and its humans’ unconscious desires that give birth to them.

That was the central takeaway from the 12th annual David Morrison Lecture in International Development delivered on Thursday by Dr. Ilan Kapoor, a Critical Development Studies professor at York University.

“There’s the desire to be rational and scientific and yet, on the other hand, the action is irrational, such as picking on immigrants,” noted Prof. Kapoor, whose lecture was titled Capitalism As Envy-Machine.

“There all these moments of contradiction. Psychoanalysis is a way of uncovering those moments.”

Prof. Kapoor is widely respected as one of the first to link psychoanalysis and postcolonial analysis to the field of development studies.

Among those attending the lecture at Market Hall in downtown Peterborough was International Development student Nikolai Afonin who described Prof. Kapoor’s work as “intellectually brave.”

“The important thing isn’t whether he’s right or wrong in the details or his perspective. Rather it’s urging us to think, from a creative angle, on the problems that we are failing to solve.”

A number of globally recognized scholars have lectured at Trent on particular international development-related topics and challenges following an endowment provided by Dr. David Morrison, the founding chair of Trent’s Comparative Development Studies program in 1976. Professor Morrison’s endowment aimed to fund a focal point for the discussion of timely issues from a critical interdisciplinary perspective.

“We talked about what we might do and considered various possibilities but decided something that would bring in top-notch people was the thing to do and it has worked out very well,” said Dr. Morrison, who attended the lecture with his wife, Dr. Alena Heitlinger, who twice served as chair of the Sociology department.

“There is a bit of a town-gown divide and this is one of those events that serves to bridge that,” noted International Development Studies chair Dr. Paul Shaffer.

“Many of these (lecture) issues are not simply academic issues. They have real world implications. They are real world problems and they matter. It’s thought-provoking stuff. You don’t have to agree with it but it makes you think.”