Accepted paper:

The enchanted HIV/AIDS response in Pakistan


Ayaz Qureshi (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

Bringing together the seeming diverse worlds of HIV bureaucrats and enchanting hijrae in Pakistan, this paper challenges the hubris of impersonal bureaucratic rationality and neoliberal efficiency, touted as global best practices in development.

Paper long abstract:

Pakistan's HIV/AIDS response was significantly reoriented under the World Bank financed Enhanced HIV and AIDS Control Programme by reshuffling top officials in the government's AIDS bureaucracy, replacing them with experts from outside the government, filling key positions with 'market-based' donor funded employees, hiring a management consultancy firm to teach the government principles of business management, public-private partnership with NGOs, and shelving the government's bureaucratic rule and procedures in the name of achieving greater 'efficiency' for delivering targets. Under the new flexible work culture of this 'hybrid' bureaucracy, the international donor money turned government employees into entrepreneurs of the self, turning their offices into derae, like in the hijra world (South Asian transgenders), and them into guru and chalae. As opposed to the 'disenchanted' bureaucracy of the state and the development sector, or the neoliberal 'efficiency' pushed by the World Bank, relations of patron-clientism and affect were central to the day-to-day life and work at the AIDS Control Programme where I conducted fifteen months of ethnographic fieldwork in 2010-11. Nevertheless, the spell of donor money did not last very long. As the grand performance of the Enhance Programme approached an untimely end, the entrepreneurial abilities of these HIV/AIDS officials were tested. With the World Bank's withdrawal, the enterprise of enhanced HIV response started to crumble as if the Bank was a daad-guru (grandfather-guru) whose demise had left these fictive kin in disarray.

panel P29
Rituals of development: the magic of a modernising project