Doing Biopolitics Differently? Radical Potential in the Post-2015 MDG and SDG Debates

Carl Death, Clive Gabay Gabay

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The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have been critiqued as an ambitious project which sought to produce entrepreneurial neo-liberal subjects. From this perspective, the opportunities and dangers of the post-2015 debates acquire a more urgent importance than the cynical dismissal of the MDGs as ‘minimum development goals’. This article identifies two potentially radical shifts in development discourse offered by the proposals for global Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): first, that they might be genuinely global and hence destabilise long-standing divisions between ‘developed’ and ‘developing’ societies; and second, that they might challenge existing growth paths of resource-intensive development. Two scenarios are offered through which these potential shifts are manifesting: first, a status-quo and growth-orientated outcome to the post-2015 agenda, and second, a more radical revisioning of development as a transformative project of global sustainability. However, even such an apparently attractive prospect as the latter has potential dangers, whether or not it is possible, which this article highlights. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations over the post-2015 SDGs, therefore, the process can tell us something about the opportunities and limits of processes of reform. The stakes could not be higher: whether a renewed and reshaped development project can drive future developmental governmentalities in radically new directions.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)597-612
Number of pages15
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


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