Development in Spirit

A book launch and conversation with Dr Seb Rumsby.

A book launch and conversation with Dr Seb Rumsby, author of Development in Spirit, also featuring Maya Nguyen & Emma Tomalin.

9th October 2023 | Barnard’s Inn Hall, London

The effects of development and nation-building projects are always felt unevenly, especially by marginalised communities. But these communities do not lack agency in this process. How do they participate in, negotiate, or resist state-led development? And what role do everyday religious and spiritual practices play therein?

In his important new book, ‘Development in Spirit’, Seb Rumsby offers a highly original perspective on how the Hmong communities in the Vietnamese highlands have responded to development initiatives. Centring the everyday political, economic, and religious practices of local residents, Rumsby shows that Christianisation has opened a route to ‘unplanned development’ that put the Hmong on a trajectory both of formal integration into the economy and resistance to state authority and religious persecution.

Seb is joined by two panelists: Maya Nguyen, Lecturer in International Relations at SOAS University of London, whose research explores the role of children and youth in the Southeast Asian military conflicts in the second half of 20th century; and Emma Tomalin, Professor of Religion and Public Life at the University of Leeds, whose recent projects have engaged with the role of faith actors in humanitarian action, peacebuilding and health.

This event is the twenty-eighth in the ISRF’s series of Book Launches.