Accepted paper:

The Politics of Inclusion in Science, Technology and Innovation for Regional Development in Colombia

Author:

Elisa Arond (Clark University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper examines the case of a new regional ST&I Fund in Colombia, exploring the conditions under which decentralization of ST&I enables inclusion of new, grassroots actors in ST&I, and what meanings, visions and expectations of ST&I and development unfold in these subnational contexts.

Paper long abstract:

This paper explores the conditions under which decentralization of science, technology and innovation (ST&I) enables inclusion of new, grassroots actors in ST&I, and what meanings, visions and expectations of ST&I unfold in these subnational contexts. Some geographers have pointed to state rescaling, in particular decentralization, as a strategy of the neoliberalized(ing) state to enhance conditions for capital accumulation. Others suggest that decentralization could also open up spaces for democratic inclusion, calling for empirical studies of such practices. STS scholars emphasize the expansion of privatization and competitiveness as shaping directions of ST&I, but have not examined rescaling of ST&I policy as a neoliberal strategy. In 2011, the Colombian government committed 10% of all royalties from mining, oil and gas to a partially decentralized fund for building ST&I capabilities towards regional development, involving subnational actors (including elected governors) in deciding which projects are funded. This turn in Colombian ST&I policy is controversial, with some calling this new institutional arrangement too "political", also highlighting that regional actors lack the necessary capacities to formulate projects. Read another way, the Fund may also "open up" participation in ST&I to new regional actors, including grassroots groups, at least under some conditions. This paper draws on national-level interviews and regional case studies to explore micro-politics and political economic conditions that shape the types of projects selected and actors engaged. Secondly, the paper explores how differently located actors think about ST&I, particularly in relation to development - i.e. what meanings, expectations, and imaginaries of ST&I arise with the Fund.

panel T071
Innovation: Discourses, politics, societies, and blind spots