EASA, 2010: EASA2010: Crisis and imagination

Maynooth, 24/08/2010 – 27/08/2010

(W083)

Imagining crisis through international intervention

Location John Hume Lecture Theatre 6
Date and Start Time 25 Aug, 2010 at 11:30

Convenors

Nina Gren (Lund University) email
Mara Benadusi (University of Catania, Department of Political and Social Sciences) email
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Long Abstract

In an increasingly interconnected world, the so-called international community tend to respond to crises in diverse parts of the glob. Those interventions are of different kinds; humanitarian, military or state-building and may be carried out by a collective of states, of international organizations or international NGOs. Interventions often show proof of imagination as the international community tries to understand, repair or change a society in crisis. Such imaginative interventions may for instance aim to save democratic values, to teach people about human rights or gender equality, to bring peace, stability or justice. However, those interventions may also bring unwanted or unforeseen outcomes or even change that counteracts the goals of the same interventions. A UN-project about human rights may for instance be understood as threat to local UN staff's employment and thus ironically create fear and silence at a worksite.

This workshop intends to discuss and investigate such imaginative interventions and their responses. How do those who intervene and those who are intervened upon understand them? What different discourses about crises and change emerge with interventions? What new or old boundaries between 'us and them', between 'insiders and outsiders' come out of interventions by the international community? Taking examples from diverse societies and types of interventions we intend to provide a more critical understanding of the imaginative work of the international intervention.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Educating Gaza's children: a remedy to the crisis?

Author: Nina Gren (Lund University)  email
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Long Abstract

Gaza has experienced international interventions for about 60 years. Most people are for instance educated in UN-run schools. Internationally as well as locally, Gaza is continuously imagined as a society in deep crisis. The remedy of that crisis is however imagined differently by diverse actors. To most Gazans, Israeli and international policies should be altered, most importantly by eliminating the boycott of the Strip. To the international community, part of a solution seems to be that Palestinian youth change.

This paper builds on fieldwork in schools in Gaza in 2009, less than a year after the Israeli war. It discusses the imagined boundaries between Palestinians and 'other people' that became apparent in two programs directed to Gaza's pupils; one that introduced a subject of human rights and one that forbade physical punishment in schools. The paper analyzes the local responses of teachers and parents in relations to UN policies.

Civil society in Bosnia Herzegovina: between imagination and practices

Author: Federica Tarabusi (University of Bologna)  email
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Long Abstract

In the last decade the concept of civil society has increasingly assumed a crucial role within the development programs in fostering democratization and transition of the countries. In Bosnia Herzegovina, for example, the international effort addressed to "build" civil society has been connected to the attempt to solve Dayton's underlying ambiguities, transcend the separation of the country into distinct ethnic territories or replace the State in its political responsibilities. Focusing on the case of Bosnia, this paper would like, on the one hand, reflect on how civil society has been narrated and "imagined" by different actors of international community. On the other hand, the ethnographic insight of a development educational project will be useful to deconstruct a romantic view of civil society as well as to show it as the space of separatism, fragmentation and conflict.

Performing community design after disaster: humanitarian floats in post-tsunami Sri Lanka

Author: Mara Benadusi (University of Catania, Department of Political and Social Sciences)  email
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Long Abstract

Community-oriented tools and technologies have become a strategic focus within humanitarian interventions after catastrophe, when thinking about how supporting residential groups in their efforts of learning to survive. The paper examines how imagining and performing community was a critical task in post-tsunami Sri Lanka, while promoting inside and outside perspectives of what the "community" is about. Instead of developing what is expected, a common sense of purpose and a collaborative desire to share work-related knowledge and experience, participants manipulated, distorted and reconfigured meanings and identities, both on local and global scale, in order to strategically adapt themselves to the post-disaster practices of social engineering. In this sense, far from presenting the catastrophe as a tabula rasa in which people's ability to make meaning is threatened or destroyed, the case I am about to introduce is an example of the kind of highly politicized and projective undertaking that follows a disaster. The paper shows how the catastrophe is not only suffered but also staged and acted out.

Webs of security and waves of destruction

Author: Carolina Holgersson Ivarsson (School of Global Studies)  email
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Long Abstract

In the wake of the tsunami disaster in the Indian Ocean in 2004 the international community demonstrated a tremendous will to 'build back better' and imagined affected populations to eventually come out of the crises as stronger and safer. This contribution deals with how intervention visions have played out locally in a tsunami-affected village in south Sri Lanka. The massive aid and reconstruction efforts have had significant impact upon the community in various ways, not least in terms of social organisation/stratification and shifts of status and power within and between different people and groups. Displacement, intervention priorities and selection of beneficiaries and collaborators have instigated a local process of negotiation that impinge on established roles, relations and social and religious conduct in ways that challenge global imaginings of reconstruction and security.

Acquiring 'social resilience' through global and local organizations in the face of flooding in Northern Ghana

Author: Mette Fog Olwig (University of Copenhagen)  email
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Long Abstract

What is the role of global and local organizations in strengthening the social resilience of local communities facing climate related crisis? Focusing on severe flooding in northern Ghana in 2007 that became world news, research is carried out at three scales to illuminate this question. At the global level among donors, economic fair trade networks, international development and humanitarian relief organizations; at the regional level among national, regional and local GOs and NGOs; and at the local level in communities where the populations were affected by the flooding. By looking at all three sites, it becomes possible to not only use social resilience as an analytical concept, but also examine it, and related concepts, as objects of study in and of themselves - i.e. how is social resilience defined and operationalized globally and locally, and what are the consequences thereof?

Child trafficking: a 'heavy word' in Guinea-Bissau

Author: Jónína Einarsdóttir (University of Iceland)  email
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Long Abstract

Despite international legal framework and conventions identification of trafficking of children is not always straightforward. Scholars have highlighted that the definition of child trafficking in The UN Trafficking Protocol gives an ample space for interpretations. Many times statistics on trafficked children are unavailable and at times contradictory. It is problematic that the statistics are often produced and used for raising of funds and for advocacy; the higher the numbers the higher the income will be. While some tend to include almost all cases of children who work at a young age others restrict the definition to include only victims of sexual exploitation. The aim of the paper is to examine how the international trafficking discourses and anti-trafficking activities can criminalize populations resulting in antagonism between child protection organizations and parents whose children they aim to safe. The paper is based on fieldwork in Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and Gambia in 2009.

Role of the NGO in the development of Sugalis: a case study from a South Indian settlement

Author: Eswarappa Kasi (National Institute of Rural Development & Panchayati Raj)  email
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Long Abstract

Role of NGOs in the development process of countries like India is very crucial, especially in the 21st Century. They have a greater role to play in the lives and livelihoods of the tribal and backward communities of India today. The present paper is an outcome of field work among Sugalis settlement in the Adadakulapalle as part of PhD work. Sugali is a dominant tribe (economically, socially, politically and numerically in Andhra Pradesh), inhabited in Anantapur District of South India. An attempt has been made in the paper to see the role of, Social Education Development Society (SEDS), an NGO in the development of a Sugali settlement. It is also attempted to understand how the information and support from the agency helped the community to become self-reliant. The drawbacks of the developmental interventions of the agency or civil society are also examined in the paper.

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This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.