EASA2012: Uncertainty and disquiet

Nanterre University, France, 10/07/2012 – 13/07/2012

(W114)

The anthropology of "emerging donors" and the uncertainty of developmental futures (EN+FR)

Location V313
Date and Start Time 13 Jul, 2012 at 11:30

Convenors

Patty Gray (Maynooth University) email
Ela Drazkiewicz (NUI Maynooth) email
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Short Abstract

We invite papers exploring how anthropology can unpack the phenomenon of "emerging donors", attending to the ways this undermines certainties about the norms of international development assistance and cooperation, such as who belongs in categories of donor and recipient, and how aid may be given.

Long Abstract

The twentieth-century development paradigm conveyed great certainty about both the modernizing potential of developmental schemes and the intended targets of such schemes, even as it was deployed to address global uncertainties such as poverty and hunger. What has lingered into the twenty-first century is a conviction that particular geographical locations and populations are in need of development, while particular other geographical locations and populations are destined to deliver aid. Yet the defining moment of global development at the start of this century is the phenomenon of "emerging donors", countries whose governments have begun to actively pursue programmes of international development assistance and cooperation, sometimes in defiance of global norms about who may give and how such giving should proceed. In this context, the dominance of the "global North" is seemingly challenged by "south-south cooperation", while some eastern donors have been accused of providing "authoritarian aid" that "undermines democracy". It is partly because development studies has for so long tended to look from the perspective of the ("Western") donor and from deep within assumptions of the manifest dominance of "Western" notions of global capitalism that these "emerging donors" appear to be a novelty; but there is a much more complex and rich story to tell, one that anthropologists are particularly well-suited to tackle. We invite papers that explore the changing global configuration of donors and recipients at any level, and particularly those that unpack the discourses of development in order to get to a critical anthropology of the practices underneath.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Busan encounters

Authors: Rosalind Eyben (Sussex University)  email
Laura Collins (University of Cambridge)  email
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Short Abstract

An ethnographic analysis of the Busan High Level Forum on development aid explores the much debated question of whether Busan is ushering in a new era of development co-operation, one in which the BRICs will play a major role in shaping international aid relations.

Long Abstract

Many observers believe that the Busan HLF will usher in a new era of development co-operation, one which the BRICs will play a major role in shaping. A wide range of opinions on what the BRICs will bring to that are already being voiced. How do actors think they will do so and what assumptions and experiences do these actors draw upon in stating their opinions? What of the BRICs themselves: how do they see themselves and each other within the context of aid relations? What are the differences between them?

The methodology of 'situation analysis' that the study will adopt derives from the premise that both researcher and researched are aware they are actors engaged in a contradictory and conflictive historical processes and that the event in which they are participating is a potential pivotal moment (Kapferer 2006). From this perspective, we will analyse the actors, discourses and spaces of conversation and negotiations. HLF4 will have about 2000 participants, making it ethnographically challenging, providing an opportunity to analyse how such an international multi-stakeholder process may 'mask abuses of power and more structural enduring inequity' (Edmunds and Wollenberg 2001: 232). What can Busan tell us about aid relationships?

Brazilian imaginaries of Africa and South-South Cooperation

Authors: Alex Shankland (Institute of Development Studies)  email
Katia Taela (University of Sussex)  email
Jennifer Constantine (Institute of Development Studies)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper discusses the “social imaginaries” of Africa present in Brazilian South-South Cooperation in the fields of agriculture, social protection and HIV/AIDS in Mozambique, arguing that Brazil’s relationship with the African continent is marked by a radical uncertainty between identity and otherness.

Long Abstract

Brazil has a long and complex history of engagement with Africa. A relationship whose origins lie in Portuguese colonialism and the slave trade had by the second half of the 20th century become a cultural and diplomatic love-affair, in which Brazil's purported "racial democracy" and ability to overcome its colonial past made it a natural ally for newly-independent African states. The first decade of the 21st century saw a massive expansion of the Brazilian presence on the continent, both diplomatic and commercial. This has been matched by an increase in the scale and ambition of Brazil's "South-South Cooperation" programme, which now includes agreements with 30 African countries. As ever more Brazilians - diplomats, doctors, crop scientists, civil society activists or mining engineers - arrive in Africa, they find themselves caught between complex local realities and the "social imaginaries" that imbue Brazilian popular and official discourses about the continent. These imaginaries are rooted in the contradictions of historical and contemporary Brazilian cultural and racial politics. In the specific field of South-South Cooperation, they are juxtaposed with "technical" understandings that construct all recipients of "development" as essentially identical. We explore the tensions of this juxtaposition through studies of Brazilian development cooperation engagements in three fields: agriculture, social protection and HIV/AIDS. In each field, we examine official discourses and those of Brazilian development practitioners in Mozambique. We argue that these discourses, and Brazilian cooperation practices in Africa more widely, are marked by a radical uncertainty between identity and otherness.

Representing Qatar: aid and development of an emerging donor

Author: Inken Wiese (University of Konstanz)  email
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Short Abstract

Previously involved in multilateral giving only (via multilateral Arab funds and the World Bank), Qatar has recently founded several organizations to bilaterally engage in development cooperation. The paper takes a close look at the innovative instruments used to interact with the partners.

Long Abstract

Several Arab Gulf states have been active as donors in development for many decades, little however is known about practices of Arab aid because the existing literature has been focusing on donors interests and the size of budgets disbursed. With regard to Qatar, however, the category fits particularly well as the state and its leadership have only recently embarked on a journey to establish Qatar as bilateral donor in development cooperation.

The paper highlights several newly founded Qatari organizations in order to analyze discourses and practices of development prevalent in Qatar. It takes a non-normative and explorative approach: Instead of judging Qatar's activities by pre-existing definitions and theories of development, the paper wants to derive the understanding of development in Qatar from talk and actions by Qatari officials as well Qatari and expatriate experts working for Qatari organizations. Interviews with them plus participant observation of their activities both in Qatar and in recipient countries form the basis for this paper. Both have been conducted in 2010 and 2011.

One particularly interesting issue to be discussed is the need to justify international development activities domestically to Qatari citizens by including them into development endeavors. Another issue to be raised in the paper is representation of Qatari aid by mainly non-Qatari experts and their realm of influence on the projects and general strategies of development followed by Qatar. A third issue is the role that Islamic traditions of giving play in shaping the Qatari discourse on aid and development.

"The electricity demand of Nepal's interconnected power system": India and the Arun-3 hydropower project

Author: Matthäus Rest (Ludwig Maximilian University)  email
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Short Abstract

The Nepalese Arun-3 hydropower project was recently resumed by the Indian state-owned SJVN. As the project was initially developed by the World Bank in the 1990s and later cancelled, it is a telling example of the fundamental shifts in transnational infrastructure development.

Long Abstract

In 2008, the Nepalese government signed a memorandum of understanding with the Indian state-owned SJVN Ltd. on the construction of the Arun-3 hydropower project. They agreed on a Build-Own-Operate-Transfer structure allocating 80 per cent of the energy generated to the foreign investor for 30 years. Subsequently, the most controversial development project in the history of Nepal was resumed. Initially, construction had started in 1990, when the dam was to be financed mainly through a World Bank loan. But after an alliance of activists started a campaign against the project and filed a complaint to the Inspection Panel of the World Bank (the only one to date that proved successful), the international financial institution decided to withdraw from the project in 1995.

SJVN is the first Central Public Sector Undertaking to bag a dam project outside India on open competition basis. Currently, the corporation is surveying several dam sites in Bhutan, while other Indian companies have started developing projects in Nepal as well and Chinese investors show interest in Nepal's strategic water resources, too. And while people in the Arun valley predominantly welcome the renewed interest in the dam, a substantial number of activists, hydropower experts, policy advisors and intellectuals in Kathmandu are anxious about the growing Indian influence and fear a gigantic sell-out of Nepal's energy options.

On that basis, my paper will investigate the fundamental shifts in transnational infrastructure development from a "Western" donor agency-driven state-centred model to a new private-public-partnership regime involving a whole set of "emerging" actors.

Building the ideal aid system: fulfilling the dream of the better future (Polish examples)

Author: Ela Drazkiewicz (NUI Maynooth)  email
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Short Abstract

Since the revitalisation of Polish Aid the System has been considered as the main element conditioning the development pursuit. The paper will examine, how bureaucratic technologies aim not only to govern practice, but also to orchestrate visions of the future and the fantasies of success.

Long Abstract

The creation of the policy-based Official Development Aid (ODA) system is one of the requirements for all those who want to be accepted to the exclusive clubs of the EU and OECD/DAC donors. As I argue in this paper, the need to form the ODA system which will comply with the regulations of these powerful institutions for donors such as Poland is envisaged as the ultimate way to transgress from being dubbed as 'emergent' donor and be recognised as an 'established donor'. Effectively, the formulation of the system is perceived as proof of the mature, expert and modern status of Polish aid. Indeed, the creation of the perfect aid system, has been one of the key goals on the Polish development activists' agenda. Since the revitalisation of Polish aid after the country's accession to the EU, the System has been considered as the main element conditioning the success or failure of their development pursuit. In its ideal (yet-to-be-achieved) form, the System is envisioned as a potential solution to all development problems.

In this paper my aim is to consider, why, given that there is such dissatisfaction with the ways policies work, there is still so much hope invested in the creation of new, supposedly better policies. The question remains as to what this stubborn obsession with policy expresses.Why is faith in it as a driving force of development maintained nonetheless? The question remains as to what this stubborn obsession with policy expresses. As I will argue, the power of policy lies in the seductive promise of an ordered and systematised world. While strongly bureaucratic in its nature, policy becomes an aesthetic tool, expressive of development activists' hopes and dreams for an organised and ordered reality, a fantasy of a harmonious system which will eventually orientate good practice, leading to positive global change and the eradication of poverty. As I will demonstrate, even though developmental policy is a bureaucratic technology in itself, its aim is not only to govern practice and people, but also to orchestrate visions of the future and the fantasies of success.

Russia as a re-emerging donor: toward a phenomenology of development donorship

Author: Patty Gray (Maynooth University)  email
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Short Abstract

Using the example of Russia, this paper investigates the ways development donorship - "emerging" or "traditional" - is constituted, highlighting a lack of historical awareness that the constitution of both nation-states and development donorship begun in the 20th century remains an ongoing process.

Long Abstract

Rather than thinking in literal terms of some development donors as "emerging" in their development activities as against others who are established in their donorship, this paper argues that what is emerging is rather the awareness among a certain unified cohort of donors (e.g. members of the Development Assistance Committee or DAC) that they are not alone in their development donorship. This paper shifts the emphasis to investigate the process by which development donorship itself - whether "emerging" or "traditional" - is constituted, arguing that the most relevant ethnographic moment is not the 21st century flash of perception that the established global field of donorship is changing; rather, it is the lack of historical awareness that the constitution of both nation-states and development donorship begun in the 20th century is ongoing, and that the implicit endgame is that every nation-state should become a (certain kind of) donor in order to complete the process of its own development. A phenomenology of development donorship points to the ways that people (at a variety of levels and roles) experience feeling that they are part of an apparatus that provides (rather than receives) development assistance. This paper begins to unpack this practically and ethnographically by comparing Russia's recent moves to make its development donorship explicit and systematic against a similar historic moment for the USA. This is particularly appropriate since USAID has been one of several agents (including UK DFID, UNDP, and the World Bank) instrumental in actively cultivating Russia as a development donor.

This workshop is closed to new paper proposals.