Claiming and controlling need: who owns development and philanthropy?

Catherine Trundle (Victoria University of Wellignton )
Nayanika Mathur (University of Cambridge)
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Short abstract:

This panel explores development and philanthropy as processes that create relations between objects, persons, institutions and knowledges in particular contexts of 'aid' and 'need.' What new insights can we gain by studying these relations through the lenses of ownership and appropriation?

Long abstract:

Development and philanthropy are complex processes that engender diverse relationships between 'donors' and 'recipients.' Such relationships involve often messy flows of objects, expertise, subjectivities and categories of 'need.' This panel will explore these flows and chart how actors within charity and development projects attempt to own and appropriate objects, entitlement, and the authority to cut or control such flows. Four broad questions will be posed. Firstly, who owns the material objects of charity and development and how do contests for ownership play out? Of interest are how recipients enter into complex relationships of ownership with the state and international bodies and how development and charity categories such as gender or 'suffering' are creatively re-appropriated by recipients in order to lay claims to owning resources. Secondly, how are aid and charity objects transformed through development and charity flows? Often the meanings and uses of objects are transformed as they move from donors to recipients, while at other times objects are 'misappropriated' though 'corruption' flows. Thirdly, we ask what subjectivities donors expect recipients to exemplify in order to 'own' need. Often recipients must also display subjective transformation through the use and appropriation of charity/aid support, by embodying such notions as 'empowerment' or 'incorporation' into economic/market spheres. Finally we ask how anthropological research has been appropriated into development and charity programmes in both colonial and post-colonial settings, and furthermore, how such research has been used by groups to claim entitlement to, or deny the need for, charity and development.

Accepted Papers: