Competing Concepts of Development and the Role of Area Studies: Comparison of Latin America and Asia | Dr. Matt Ferchen

On December 10, 2019, Mr. Matt Ferchen, Researcher from the Tsinghua-Carnegie Center for Global Policy, presented the doctoral students at the Institute of International and Area Studies (IIAS) of Tsinghua University with the lecture of “Competing Concepts of Development and the Role of Area Studies: Comparison of Latin America and Asia”.

First of all, Dr. Ferchen examined the meaning of development from the perspective of political economy and pointed out that early development focused on the accumulation of wealth and believed that the accumulation of capital increased in quantity is a manifestation of development. Later, the research on development gradually deepened and began to explore comprehensive development issues and the relationship between development and different countries and political systems. As far as developing countries are concerned, ensuring development requires the country’s reasonable allocation of domestic resources, so as to realize the accumulation of various material and human capital in the country to promote development. It also depends on the country’s status and performance in the international economic order. Many developing countries are often in a fragile and unequal position in international economic relations, so the development of these countries requires specific analysis of specific issues. Dr. Ferchen stated that just paying attention to the quantity of development cannot be the only criterion. It is also necessary to consider the qualitative understanding of development. Only comprehensive research on development is a detailed study.

Then, he turned to Latin America and Asia and mentioned the different performance of development in these two regions. The development of Asia, specially East Asia, is a planned development, with a strong planning nature under the guidance of the state as a large machine. In Latin America, the role of the state has been diminished, and it mainly relies on the development of capital accumulation brought about by the original market role under the capitalist system, which is a more market-centric path. Through the study of the two regions, we can discover the different appearances of development, but also richer development connotations. Dr. Ferchen also emphasized to doctoral students that only by mastering the history of the studied area and doing comparative research can we better understand the practical significance of academic theories.

At the end of the lecture, the doctoral students present also had a lively exchange with Dr. Ferchen and put forward their personal understanding of the actual development of Latin America and Southeast Asia, as well as the practical significance of China’s development model, the differences between Chinese and Western development and other issues.

By Yuan Mengqi